By : Tony A. San Juan, OCT.

Truly meeting the long-cherished desire of recognizing purposefully  the “remarkable achievements of  Filipino Canadians across Canada”,  the 1st Golden Balangay Awards was significantly  launched on March 18, 2017 at the Edward Village Hotel in North York, Toronto. Thus, the first nationwide  search for outstanding Filipinos in Canada  is now underway !
Under the auspices of iKubo Media and Awards Online Canadathe initiative will provide a vehicle  for the pangkalahatang masa  to choose and  honour  the high achievers and exemplary members of the ever- growing community  in respect of their  highly significant contributions and meaningful participation  into the life, work and well-being of the Filipino Canadian and mainstream communities.
Specifically, the Balangay Awards aim “to promote excellence, hard work, higher education, entrepreneurship, public service and community involvement.”  When asked why the name Balangay was chosen, Ronnie De La Gana, iKubo Media CEO and project co -founder  reasoned out that : ” we wanted a moniker that would symbolize our journey in chasing our collective dreams as well as one that would give us the sense of community.”
The  17 categories of the Balangay Awards  are  : Educational Excellence in Secondary and Post-secondary Education; Excellence in Arts & Culture, Sports & Fitness, Media, Music & Entertainment and Business; Excellence  for Community Service; Educator of the Year; Young Leader of the Year; Senior Achiever of the Year; Most Influential Community Organization; Young Entrepreneur of the Year; Entrepreneur of the Year; Executive of the Year; Manggagawang Pilipino of the Year; and Pinoy of the Year. The Project’s major sponsors and partners  are : Awards Online, Canadian Industry Event  Awards, Filipino  TV,  iKubo Media, Kubo Magazine, Philippine Chamber of Commerce -Toronto, Pinoy Radio and Proximity Wave.
Ably hosted by ABS-CBN -Toronto reporter Rachelle Cruz, the kickoff event  began with song-and-dance front acts of the all-kids Elements group. Philippine Deputy Consul General Bernadette Fernandez delivered an inspirational keynote address and 2014 RBC Top 25 Immigrant Alberto Rodil shared about the heart-rending challenges and struggles in his immigrant’s experience.  The Awards organizers Ronnie  & Claire Dela Gana and Jovito Favila appeared in the video presentation making a strong pitch for their special project including its  rationale and ramification as well as stressing the “use of online technology for awards nomination and judging…..a first for the Filipino community”.
Among the more than 150 people  in attendance were community leaders and noted personalities were: Manolo & Fe Arnaldo, Jun & Ning Calaguio, Patrick Dooc,  Seva Gama , Judith Gonzales, Belinda Herrera,  Susan Llanera, Pol Llorente, Rolly Mangante, Agnes Miranda, Danny Orbillo, Kim Christian Pacis, Jesse Panem, Elvie Polarco, Joseph & Lorelei Redoblado, Marisa Roque, Jocelyn A. San Juan, Monina Serrano, Marla Tanuan, and Atty. Tony Villarin & wife  Marissa ,
The Awardees  will be selected by a panel of judges employing a set of  criteria established by respectable members of the Awards Technical Advisory Committee  composed of :  Prof. Patrick Alcedo, Ysh Cabana, Josie De Leon, John Kok,  Louroz Mercader, Steve Pagao,  Dr. Francis Rementilla, Alberto Rodil, Michele Serrano, Trustee Garry Tanuan, Rose Tijam, and Kaylene Tolentino, In his written message to the official launch, Dr. Francis Rementilla expressed that : “he believed that the Awards will showcase the accomplishments of Filipino Canadians in their various fields …..and  that they be recognized for their invaluable efforts ….. to  inspire the younger generations to strive for the best”.
Nominations are now accepted and will close on August 12, 2017. The full list of nominees and judges will be announced on August 19, 2017. The Awards Night will be held on September 9, 2017(Saturday) at the BMO Institute for Learning. For more details about the awards and to nominate , visit: www.goldenbalangayawards,com or contact : Ronnie Dela Gana at 647-300-1970With the mantra “Libo-libong kwento ng paglalakbay , isang gabing pagdiriwang ng tagumpay” ,  aptly encapsulates the  novel celebration of  the 2017 Golden Balangay Awards. .( Tony A. San Juan).
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