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Events: Celebrating True Asian Excellence at the 61st Ramon Magsaysay Awards with Inspiring Individuals that Champion Truth, Justice and Peace

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — For 61 years, The Ramon Magsaysay Award has stood as a beacon that shone on exceptional individuals across Asia who have made remarkable contributions to society, and humanity as a whole, continuing on the legacy that the late President Ramon Magsaysay left behind. 355 awardees have been named since 1957, and on September 9, 2019, a new batch of laureates were presented in a grand ceremony at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). 

Families and colleagues of the awardees, former inductees, and even Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo were among those who witnessed the formal presentation of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award recipients. With “Courage Undaunted” as the core theme embodied by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, it recognized and celebrated 5 more individuals for their fearless pursuit of truth, justice, human rights, peace, and unity. 



KIM JONG-KI (South Korea)

Despite his success as a business man, Kim Jong-Ki quietly and courageously transformed his life into one of service after a devastating tragedy struck his family. After losing his son to suicide due to bullying and youth violence, he made the conscious decision to dedicate his life to making sure no child suffers the same way. Establishing the Foundation for Preventing Youth Violence (FPYV), the first organized effort in Korea to address this issue, Kim Jong-Ki and his team has done countless initiatives to mark the world with a gentler, and non-violent Korean society. 


KO SWE WIN (Myanmar) — Emergent Leadership Awardee

For years Myanmar has been one of the most challenging environments in Asia for journalists. Yet Ko Swe Win has consistently fought to change the system. His desire to unveil the truth goes beyond the boundaries and limitations established by institutions and powerful individuals, even resulting to his temporary imprisonment in 1998. Ko Swe Win continues to share stories and reports that puts emphasis on cold hard facts through Myanmar Now, an independent online news service focusing on long-form investigative reports, that relentlessly fights for justice, human rights and the unwavering truth. 



As the world’s largest democratic country, freedom of speech and truthful journalism has always been given prime importance in India, and television journalist Ravish Kumar is one of the most prominent personalities at the forefront of this movement. Throughout his years in the industry, he has stayed unyielding in his insistence that professional values of sober, balanced, and fact-based reporting be upheld in practice all over the world, but especially in India. His Prime Time program ranges from taking up difficult national issues concerning all of India, to real life and underreported problems of ordinary people – broadcasting valuable stores of information to a Hindi-speaking audience of more than 422M viewers everyday. 



Southern Thailand has struggled with religious and ethnic conflict for decades, resulting to thousands of deaths since then with ninety percent of them civilians, including the husband of Angkhana Neelapaijit. In her grief, she committed herself to advocating for human rights and peace in her community through Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF), a network of impassioned and unfaltering individuals dedicated to raising public awareness and putting pressure on government to take action on human rights cases. In 2015, she was appointed to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, and to this day continues to serve as a bridge to give detainees access to their families and lawyers, victims to get financial compensation, and address serious issues of forced child marriages, women trafficking, and the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. 



Through “Ryan” Cayabyab’s body of musical work, he has effectively empowered and amplified a culture blazing with a passionate love for music innate to the Filipino people. Through his music, he is virtually omnipresent in the Philippine music community with his compositions, arrangements, performances and more. To this day he continues to produce works in a diverse range of genres and media — choral and orchestral, musical theatre, opera and ballet, television programs, film scores, and commercial recordings of popular music, to name a few. Honored in 2018 as Philippine National Artist for Music, he is a moving force in major initiatives dedicated to music training and promoting Filipino music abroad, believing that an an expert and educator, it is his responsibility to share everything he knows to the next generation. 

To end, Vice President Leni Robredo shared an empowering speech on what it means to be Asian today longing for equality, empathy, truth and accountability from all sectors in society. She emphasized the role of the Ramon Magsaysay Award to the continent and the rest of the world as it continues to honor and celebrate true Asian excellence. She wrapped up her speech with an excerpt from President Ramon Magsaysay’s Inaugural Address back on December 30, 1953: “We have a glorious past, now we must build a future worthy of that past.”

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