Aug 062013


From top left clockwise: Menchu De Luna Sanchez, Judge Nina Elgo and Dindi Gallardo Mills

This year’s TOFA-NY, the third in a row, is proud to announce the New York Tri-State’s outstanding Filipino Americans, led by a nurse who saved infants in critical condition when Hurricane Sandy caused a power outage, a former actress who is suing for racial discrimination, and a judge who is the first FilAm to serve in Connecticut.

The Outstanding Filipino Americans in the New York Tri-State is an annual search for role models in the region with a population of more than 300,000 FilAms. The awards program coincides with the celebration of Filipino American History Month in October.

Menchu De Luna Sanchez, the NYU Langone nurse who sprang into action to save at least 20 babies in ICU units when the hospital lost power during Hurricane Sandy, was nominated for the Health Care category.

Actress Dindi Gallardo Mills, who brought charges of racial discrimination against her employer — a powerful writer in Hollywood – is a finalist for the category Courage of Conviction. Judge Nina Elgo won a nomination for the category Public Service & Politics for being Connecticut’s first Filipino and first Asian judge.

They were among the 39 individuals who comprise this year’s crop of TOFA-NY nominees. The winners will be selected based on Facebook votes (Likes) collected. Last day for voting is September 30, 2013. They will be awarded on October 26 in simple ceremonies at Carnegie Hall.
The nominees are:

• Ching Valdes Aran
• Matthew Libatique
• Sibyl Raymundo-Santiago

• Sheila Marcelo
• Michael Nierva
• Jaena Valles

• Fe Martinez
• Maya Rowencak
• Ramon Villongco

• Jen Furer
• Dindi Gallardo
• Harlan Ragay

• Marietta Geraldino
• Joel Natividad
• Christine Pomeranz

• Jose Llana
• Bobby Lopez
• Christine Sienicki

• Zaldy Goco
• Guenevere Rodriguez
• Stanley Ruiz

• Jeepney
• Pig and Khao
• Aris Tuazon of Ugly Kitchen

• Noilyn Abesamis-Mendoza
• Flor Nebres
• Menchu Sanchez

• Irma Bajar
• Noel Bordador
• Brian Jose

• Katherine Creag
• Howard Chua-Eoan
• Frances Rivera

• Judge Nina Elgo
• Atty. Rio Guerrero
• Chris Traumer

• Esperanza Garcia
• Philippine Community of Southern New Jersey—Youth Group
• Jason Purino

Heritage Awards will be conferred on four individuals and organizations who are seen as pillars of the community for their consistent community engagement through their talent, skills and professional acumen. This year’s honorees are fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, Latin Salsa singer Joe Bataan, the Foundation for Filipino Artists, which is staging the Noli Me Tangere opera, and the pro bono lawyers group Filipino American Legal and Education Defense Fund.

As in the previous years, Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. will deliver the opening remarks, while businesswoman and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis will pay tribute to the unwavering Filipino spirit in her inspirational message. They will be joined this year by Judge Lorna Schofield of the Southern District of New York who will speak about her historic confirmation as the first Filipino American federal judge in US history. WNBC’s Katherine Creag will emcee.

“Filipinos are capable of achieving great things,” said Consul General de Leon Jr. in lauding the 2012 honorees for “making Filipino American history.”

Mayor Bloomberg said the city of New York is proud to “honor the many men and women of Filipino descent who remain committed to making our great city even better.” Last year’s winners are here.

This year’s TOFA-NY is produced by founder Elton Lugay and Sally Nunez, a former nurse who is president and CEO of her own company, RN Express Staffing Registry LLC. Sally, who is also a senior associate with the World Financial Group, said giving recognition to outstanding Filipino Americans is something she considers “fulfilling” and “priceless.”

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