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APCU names 2022 Filipino ‘Laureates’

Pinoy Exposé publisher among the 10 awardees; Special Tribute to be given to the late Amb. Chito Sta. Romana

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THE Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU), has announced the 10 outstanding and prominent Filipinos who have been selected as this year’s “Laureates” for their contributions in deepening the relationship and understanding between the Philippines and China.

In a statement, the APCU said those selected passed the APCU committee’s 3-stages selection and judging process and have been found to have qualified to be the recipients of the 2022 ‘Award for Promoting Philippines- China Understanding’ (APPCU).

The APPCU pays special tribute to Filipinos who have made efforts through time to strengthen friendly ties and promote mutual understanding between the Philippines and China using their respective advocacies and expertise in the various fields and disciplines of Mass Media and Public Service; Trade and Commerce; Arts, Culture and the Sciences.

It would be the second time for the APPCU to be handed out to a select group of Filipinos for their efforts to foster deeper friendship and closer relationship between China and the Philippines after its first and successful launch last August 6, 2021 (see Pinoy Exposé, August 2, 2021).

The selection process for this year’s awards covering personalities in both the Philippines’ public and private sectors was begun in the first quarter of 2022 as the APCU board endeavored to streamline its search for well-deserving individuals for recognition of their efforts and contributions in fostering and promoting understanding, appreciation, and the reinforcement of amity between the Philippines and China. Their works’ prestige, nature, and extent are essentially the basis for identifying their respective award category.

The APCU board is headed by Presidential Adviser Secretary Raul Lambino as Chairman and Mr. Jeffrey T. Ng as President.

Prof. Anna Malindog Uy, a member of the Selection Committee, said interest and awareness among Filipinos for the APPCU has started to grow, with 30 names entered for this year’s award compared to the 25 names entered last year.

The APPCU has three categories: Hall of Fame, Outstanding Contributions and, Major Contributions.

The Hall of Fame category, which acknowledges the prestige and stature of the individual, also puts emphasis on the immense effort of work the individual has done over time, as may be evidenced by the extent of reach, impact, and reception of the works they have accomplished by communities and societies.

The Outstanding Contributions category recognizes individuals of lesser prominence but has nonetheless made notable contributions to promoting and strengthening Philippines-China bilateral relations, friendship, cooperation, and understanding.

The Major Contributions category recognizes the works of individuals that have a growing reach and impact on the lives of specific groups or communities of people at the grassroots level. Four Filipino journalists are among the 10 Laureates for this year’s APPCU.

The special ceremony is to be attended by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines HE Huang Xilian on June 10, 2022 at the Dusit Hotel, Makati City, while former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, APCU Chairman Emeritus, is also expected to attend the event.

The 10 Laureates for 2022

Selected for this year’s ‘Hall of Fame’ are former Philippine President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Republic of China, Ambassador Francisco Benedicto.

Last year, the first to be elevated to the Hall of Fame are former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and former Ambassador Francis Chua.

The awardees for the APPCU Outstanding Contributions are: Wilson Lee Flores, Honorary Chairman of Anvil Business Club, Board Member and Chairman of FFCCCII Public Information & Media Committee, Philippine Star columnist and media forum moderator;

Manila Standard Columnist and Contributor of China Daily Global Edition, and Global Times, Rodrigo “Rod” P. Kapunan; Manila Times Columnist and book author, Mauro Gia Samonte; and,

Princess Jacel H. Kiram of the Sultanate of Sulu who is also the President of the Philsilat Sports Association, and the Co-Founder & President of the International Center for Peace, Reconciliation and Development (ICPRD).

Paul M. Gutierrez, Pinoy Exposé Publisher, is among those to be recognized for this paper’s unqualified support to foster better understanding between the Philippines and China

The awardees for the Major Contributions category are; Paul M. Gutierrez, immediate Past President of the National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) who is also a columnist and reporter for the Philippine Journalists, Inc. (PJI), publisher of ‘People’s Journal,’ People’s Journal Tonight. Gutierrez is also the Owner/Publisher of Pinoy Exposé;

Prof. Cavin Franco Pamintuan, Philippine Director of Confucius Institute at Angeles University Foundation; Prof. Celso Cainglet, Senior Lecturer at the University of the Philippines Visayas Campus; and,  April Marie C. Dayap, former Davao City Councilor who currently heads the Davao City Investment and Promotion Center (DCIPC).

All awardees will receive a trophy, a recognition plaque, and a certificate. On the other hand, prize money will be given to each awardee for the Outstanding Contributions and Major Contributions categories.

Special Award for Sta. Romana

In recognition of his immense contributions to fostering a closer and deeper relationship between the Philippines and China, the APCU also decided to create a special award, the ‘Gawad Sultan Paduka Pahala’ for the late Philippine Ambassador to China, Jose Santiago ‘Chito’ Sta. Romana.

Sta. Romana, without a doubt, was only among the handful of Filipinos who has intimate knowledge about the culture and history of China, having been left “stranded” in the Chinese mainland when martial law was declared in the Philippines in 1972.

The late Philippine Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Jose Santiago ‘Chito’ Sta. Romana (from his FB page).

Diplomatic observers agree that it was Sta. Romana’s appointment as Philippine ambassador to China in late 2016 as one of Pres. Duterte’s best strategic decisions.

Sta. Romana was appointed at a time when the posting in China is considered as the most tasking and difficult job for a diplomat as the two country’s relationship was at its lowest ebb due to the “anti-China” policy pursued by the Aquino government in subservience to the “contain China” policy of US Imperialism.

But less than a year after Sta. Romana took over as Philippine ambassador, both Pres. Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping complimented each other with state visits by the two heads of state; Pres. Xi Jinping visited the Philippines in November 2018, the first visit by a Chinese president since 2005 while Pres. Duterte was in China on a 5-day state visit in August 2019.

During his visit, Pres. Xi described the two country’s relationship as similar to “a rainbow after the rain,” referring to the stormy period under the unlamented regime of Pres. Nonoy Aquino.

Sta. Romana’s efforts were all not in vain, with China not only the first country to respond to the Philippines’ vaccine needs during the worst moments of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 but also, now the country’s biggest trading partner in terms of Philippine exports.

China is also fully supportive of the Duterte administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ centerpiece infrastructure program that includes “gifting” the Philippines with two new bridges across the Pasig River to help decongest traffic in Metro Manila. The ‘Pantaleon Bridge now connects the cities of Mandaluyong and Makati while the ‘Binondo-Intramuros Bridge’ now connects the historic districts of Binondo and Intramuros in Manila.

Sta. Romana, 74, died on April 18, 2022, in Anhui Province, China.

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