Press Release
August 8, 2022

Sponsorship Speech
Senate Resolution No. 77

Monday, August 8, 2022 Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines

Delivered by THE HONORABLE WIN GATCHALIAN, Senator of the 19th Congress:

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it is my distinct honor to sponsor Senate Resolution No. 77 to honor the 2021 awardees of The Outstanding Young Men or TOYM.

As I sponsor this measure, Mr. President, I cannot help but feel a sense of nostalgia and deep personal pride. More than a decade ago, this representation also received this prestigious recognition when I was still serving as the Mayor of Valenzuela City. And for someone who was recognized as one of the Outstanding Young Men in 2011, the journey comes full circle as I deliver this speech honoring last year's awardees.

It is worth noting that several of this august chamber's past and present members received this recognition for their outstanding service rendered to our kababayans. Among our colleagues who received this prestigious recognition are our Senate President Pro Tempore Senator Loren Legarda for Broadcast Journalism, Senator Risa Hontiveros for Peace Advocacy, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for Government and Public Service, Senator Chiz Escudero for Youth Leadership, and my seatmates Senator Sonny Angara for Government Service and Legislation and Senator JV Ejercito for Government and Public Service.

While this recognition is hailed as one of the most prestigious with a reputation for selectiveness on awardees, I believe that receiving this award during these trying times carries a deeper meaning and significance.

As we all know, we continue to recover from the most disruptive event of our lifetime: the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic posed unprecedented challenges and disruptions to our daily lives, it also opened up more opportunities for creativity and innovation to rebuild a more resilient, more robust, and a more inclusive society which leaves no Filipinos behind. For me, this is the essence of the theme from the 2021 search: Everyday Leaders Enabling Extraordinary Impact.

The 2021 TOYM Awardees show us the best of what the post-pandemic Philippines could be. Their stories reflect the Filipino spirit persevering amidst the challenges we face. For many of us, the pandemic was the darkest time we faced in our lifetime. At the same time, it brought out the best of what our fellow Filipinos could be, and the 2021 TOYM Awardees were among those who shined the brightest to serve as beacons of hope to our country.

At this juncture, Mr. President, let me recognize each of the 2021 TOYM Awardees. First, for the field of Social Entrepreneurship, we have coffee entrepreneur and nutrition entrepreneurship pioneer Ariestelo Asilo who co-organized the non-governmental organization Rise Against Hunger. In 2021, he won a grant for his coffee research, which uses Internet of Things technology to benefit 400 coffee farmers in Cavite and Davao. His company Varacco won as one of the 50 United Nations' Best Small Business: Good Food for All, a recognition given at the United Nations Foods Systems Summit 2021.

Up next, for the field of Agricultural Entrepreneurship, is Iloisa Romaraog-Diga, the mind behind the app Session Groceries, which connects local farmers and consumers to support local agribusiness, promote a sustainable lifestyle, and educate the local community on the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown food. Aside from connecting farmers to consumers, Session Groceries has also developed a farmers' academy, which allowed the sharing of knowledge and experiences to aid the farmers in meeting quality standards and ensure continued community support.

In the field of education, we have Eleazar Abraham Orobia or Abe, head facilitator of Art Workshops for Indigenous People Elementary teachers. Abe focused on artistic research during the pandemic to determine society's conduct towards art and culture in times of crisis. His installations consist of various images from physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel wearing full personal protective equipment as temporary shield in the fight against the pandemic to depictions of small farmers and fishermen, cultural communities suffering from this crisis. These are part of the exhibition titled "Images of Our Nation" at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Gallery.

In the field of Environment Marine Conservation, we have Anna Oposa, co-founder of Save Philippine Seas. In 2015, Anna founded the Sea and Earth Advocates or SEA Camp in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. To date, the SEA Camp has trained over 200 youth leaders in the Philippines and Southeast Asia to become leaders in conservation. She also cowrote a workbook entitled An Introduction to Climate Change for Filipino Youth. She helped operationalize the country's first shark and ray sanctuary in Cebu through empowerment and education programs. For the field of Education and Sociology, we have Jayeel Cornelio, Associate Professor and the Director of the Development Studies Program at the Ateneo de Manila University. He is a recipient of two national awards for his scholarship and extensive body of work on religion and social change. He has also been the editor of "Rethinking Filipino Millennials: Alternative Perspectives of a Misunderstood Generation" in 2020 and the lead editor of the "Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society" in 2021.For the field of Science and Technology, we have Maria Yzabell Angel Palma, inventor of the AirDisc Cooling Technologies, which is anticipated to play a pivotal role amid the climate crisis we find ourselves in. Maria Yzabell Angel's main goal is to make these technologies available to everyone.

In the field of Medicine and Cardiology, we have Dr. Jaime Alfonso Ahererra, whose research has been used to develop pathways for COVID-19 management at the Philippine General Hospital. He is also known for his work on ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), which is focused on the timely management of heart attacks and its correlation with adverse outcomes at the Philippine General Hospital.

Another awardee in the field of Education is Lou Sabrina Ongkiko, a Master Teacher I at the Culiat Elementary School in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. She led the planning and implementation of her school's learning continuity program for distance learning during the pandemic, and helped ensure its stability through the conduct of Facebook Messenger classes, strengthening learner mapping, and community support.

In the field of Digital Journalism, we have Jaemark Tordecilla, the head of digital media for GMA News and Public Affairs. As digital media chief of one of the country's top news organizations, he spearheaded the development of Cover Stories, an award-winning multimedia storytelling platform, as well as the network's Digital Video Laboratory, which has developed and launched a portfolio of original digital newscasts, documentary shows, and podcasts.

Lastly, for the field of Science and Medicine, we have Dr. Melvin Sanicas, an internationally recognized Filipino COVID-19 expert, for his tireless work in scientific communication, fighting misinformation and disinformation, advancing the field of vaccinology, and making significant contributions to global public health. A TED Educator, the lessons that Dr. Sanicas developed on tuberculosis, influenza, meningitis, and the coronavirus have been translated into over 24 different languages and viewed by millions.

Mr. President, this year's TOYM awardees, just like their predecessors, show us the best of what Filipinos can be. Sa paggawad natin sa kanila ng parangal, binibigyan din natin ng pagkilala ang mga natatanging katangian ng mga Pilipino, lalo na ang kanilang husay at tatag na nag-angat sa ating mga kababayan sa gitna ng krisis.

For these reasons, I call on our distinguished colleagues to support the adoption of this resolution. Thank you, Mr. President.

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