After months of searching for Filipino migrants who had made an outstanding difference in making a positive impact in the community, The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU), a leader in global payment services, announced the top 25 Filipino migrants who are living proof that Filipino migrants are indeed our modern day heroes.
Western Union had deemed it important to recognize heroic efforts of Filipino migrants, to affirm their invaluable contribution to their families, communities and the country. These migrants did not just send money back home; they had also given pride to the Filipino community with their successful missions.
The “Heroes for Better” campaign celebrates the lives of migrant Filipinos, their work and their personal advocacies because they were the ones who were courageous enough to run after their dreams and to take it further by fulfilling other people’s dreams,” shares Patricia Riingen, Senior Vice President, South East Asia & Oceania, Western Union. “The campaign does not just recognize and tell their stories, it also provides them a platform to inspire others to pay it forward.”
The 25 heroes are Eddie Vega, Nestor Puno, Nilo Beltran, Adelaida Saito, Edmond Corpuz, Nanette Carillo, RJ Garcia, Agnes Granada, Mauro Oreta, Vangie Jorquia, Consorcia De Leon-Scholtz, Jay Jaboneta Vincent Benares, Edna Dorado, Mary Jane Al Mahdi, Hengie Taton, Mario Balboa, Alexis Belonio, Benette Cueto, Julieta Solas, Armand and Bing Serrano, Judith Gonzales, Nilda Cochrane, Cecilia Cech, and Asma Vilmonte.
“I guess it holds true for all of us heroes that it started with an issue that had affected us and it simply compelled us to take action. It’s not that we wanted to change the world, we just wanted to help in our own way,” says Nestor Puno.
“This recognition given to us by Western Union only inspires us to continue and even extend the reach of our advocacies, involve more people, and hopefully influence other migrants to start their own missions too,” adds Nilo Beltran.
Western Union will award USD25,000 to support the advocacy of the highest-voted hero. People can vote for their favorite hero by logging on to www.wuheroesforbetter.org. Voting closes on September 28, 2015 at 11:50pm.
WESTERN UNION 25 HEROES FOR BETTER
EDDIE VEGA (USA)
An IT professional based in the US who runs barefoot to create awareness about and let everybody know that there are over 300 million children worldwide who are without shoes or adequate footwear because they cannot afford them. He is also the ambassador for Soles4Souls, a charity organization collecting new and gently worn shoes from shoe companies and individuals for donation to the world’s underprivileged children.
NESTOR PUNO (JAPAN)
A missionary who teaches in a small school in Japan called ELCC. ELCC is a school for Filipino and Filipino-Japanese children who cannot enter regular schools due to their status of stay. Assists women in the Filipino Migrant Center and Nagoya Youth Center. He put up a day school for Japanese-Filipino children residing in red-light districts. His school provides children with an environment that is more conducive
to progressive learning. Nestor is also an active leader and spokesperson for earthquake disaster preparedness in his community.
NILO BELTRAN (PHILIPPINES)
Founder of the Skills Caravan, a non-profit organization which provides free technical skills workshops to jail inmates, out of school youth and unemployed members of underpriveleged communities in the Philippines. After years of working as an engineer abroad (Saipan), Nilo decided to come back to the Philippines to help his countrymen in his own humble way by sharing his expertise in engineering.
ADELAIDA SAITO (JAPAN)
Established the “Ishinomaki Haway-Kamay”, an organization that organizes fund-raising events to help people in Japan and in other parts of the world who are experiencing emotional/social/economic devastation made by natural calamities.
EDMOND CORPUZ (PHILIPPINES)
Photographer, teacher and art director. He founded the “Black Pencil” Advocacy project which helped bring school supplies to 1,200 school children in rural areas.
NANETTE CARILLO (NEW ZEALAND)
Initiated setting up the Pinoy Street Children and Orphan’s Trust or SCOT, a charitable nonprofit organization based in Auckland. Part of the Trust’s project is to provide scholarship and conduct feeding programmes to street children in various places in Bulacan, Batangas, Caloocan City and Antipolo City. Another initiative of the Trust is to help abandoned Filipino street children be legally adopted by Kiwi (colloquial term for New Zealanders) families.
RJ GARCIA (PHILIPPINES)
Founder of The Appledrive Project, a campaign to educate indigent kids in both rural and urban areas in the Philippines to advocate a healthier lifestyle by eating apples, instead of candies or chocolates.
AGNES GRANADA (NEW ZEALAND)
Co-founded Migrant Action Trust. Migrant Action Trust runs services by migrants for migrants. They provide support for funding applications and acquittals, accounts and day-to-day issues. Currently, she’s a member of Earth Action Trust. The vision of Earth Action Trust is zero waste and zero unemployment by the year 2040 through the operation of resource recovery initiatives and waste elimination education programmes
MAURO ORETA (NEW ZEALAND)
Created an online group called “AKLnzPINOYS”. It was intended to be an online forum to enable interaction between Filipinos both already in NZ and those still planning to come to NZ. The group was a vehicle for migrants to share their experiences on job seeking, house hunting, settlement and visa processing. The membership of the group has grown to around 2800 members as of this writing.
VANGIE JORQUIA (SWEDEN)
She is the founder of Addicon Organization helping schools in the Philippines. She mounts her own fund raising events to support her school medical mission. She made this promise to help other kids as long as her son survies AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation).
CONSORCIA DE LEON-SCHOLTZ (BELGIUM)
Founder and President of World Mission for Peace and Development (WMPD)1, a non-profit organization established in 2000. She initiated the “Annual Filipino Open Forum or Pulong-Pulong sa Kaunlaran” since 1997-2012, with the participation and cooperation of Philippine Embassy representatives as panel speakers. This gathering served as a bridge for the Philippine government to reach out to overseas Filipinos. It also serves as an information campaign drive, educating Filipinas of their rights as foreign spouses.
JAY JABONETA (PHILIPPINES)
His advocacy “Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids” has raised money to buy bright new yellow boats for kids in Layag Layag, Zamboanga who had to swim to get to school everyday.
VINCENT BENARES (HONG KONG)
Radio broadcaster who started Pinoy Tayo Sanman. Its goal is to protect, inform and entertain the hundreds of thousand of Filipinos in Hong Kong. He has also already helped initiate positive changes to the lives of Filipinos in Hong Kong by rallying for the offering of consulate services on Sundays, as well as the implementation of financial literacy programs and environmental campaigns.
Factory worker who established her own agency to service the same factory she served. She helped and hired so many Filipinos primarily the jobless and those who need an employer to regularize their stay in the country.
MARY JANE AL-MAHDI (UAE)
She is the CEO of Geoscience, a leading testing laboratory in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She is also one of the founders of the UAE-based Filipino Digerati Association (FDA). Through holding computer courses and livelihood programs, the FDA hopes to give better job opportunities to Filipinos living in the UAE. As of 2013, the Association has produced around 12,000 graduates.
HENGIE TATON (KUWAIT)
He does different charitable activities that cater to the needs of Filipinos in the Middle East. Through his active involvement in organizations such as the Pinoy Ambulance Nurses in Kuwait (PANIK) and the Pinoy Nurses Association – Kuwait (PNA-K), he has helped many distressed Filipino workers recover from their grim experiences.
MARIO BALBOA (KSA)
Organized Philippine Council of Engineers and Architects – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (PCEA‐KSA). It is a Non‐profit Umbrella Organization of different engineering and architecture Accredited Professional Organizations (APO) under PRC, duly recognized by the Philippine Embassy and officially affiliated to the Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE). Its main objective is to promote and showcase to the highest standard‐ the skills, talents, credentials and qualifications of Filipino engineers and architects for global recognition and competitiveness.
ALEXIS BELONIO (PHILIPPINES)
He created a low-cost cooking stove (rice husk stove) designed to help poor people have access to hot meals. Priced at ony Php25 (USD0.56), Belonio’s stove would be able to save a family of rice farmers Php6,750 ($150) per year in fuel expenses. He also added that a ton of rice husk contains energy equal to 415 liters of petroleum (or 378 liters of kerosene). Belonio’s stove lessens toxic fumes and smoke that affect the environment, and reduces greenhouse gases. The burnt remnants of the rice husks can later be used as soil fertilizers or in making small blocks of coal substitute.
BENETTE CUETO (QATAR)
She’s one of the founding members of the Oriental Mindoro Association Qatar (OMAQ) – an organization created primarily to assist distressed Filipinos in Qatar. She also started granting scholarships to a few deserving students from her hometown in Oriental Mindoro.
ARMAND & BING SERRANO (USA)
A talented Filipino animator who has worked for some of the biggest companies in the world of animation for more than two decades. Together with his wife, they set up a foundation called ICON to provide humanitarian aid and conduct international conferences to upgrade the skills and knowledge of future animators and artists.
JUDITH GONZALES (CANADA)
A former caregiver in Canada but now is highly respected in the community, the Philippine Embassy in Canada and the Canadian Government sue to her contribution in assisting not only the caregivers but also the new Filipino migrants who are not that fortunate.
NILDA COCHRANE (NEW ZEALAND)
She opened an orphanage in Sorsogon called Oasis Christian Children’s Home, caring for 23 orphans for their education and well-being.
CECILIA OROLA CZECH (AUSTRIA)
President of Babaylan-Austria. It conducts projects for the benefits of Filipino women. She also helps street children, impoverished families and students in the Philippines.
ASMA VILMONTE (KSA)
Founded the OFW Council of Leaders in collaboration with the Filipino Community Leaders in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with the purpose of helping distressed Filipino workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in terms of their health, security, safety, finances and moral upliftment.
JULIETA SOLAS (Dubai, UAE)
Only a few have the ability to inspire, nurture, and transform the lives of others. One of them is Julieta Solas, a Filipina nurse striving to make a difference in the world, one person at a time. Julieta has made it her mission to provide people care and nourishment through her work as a nurse and as a community leader for St. Mary’s Filipino Community in Dubai. More than promoting physical wellness by lending a hand in medical missions, she also endeavors to initiate spiritual growth and help relieve her fellow Filipino migrants from loneliness and stress in their work environment by organizing community recollections. More than 20 years since she formed St. Mary’s Filipino Community, Julieta hopes to encourage more people to share their time and skills for the betterment of communities, especially Filipinos, all over the world.