The winners for Asia’s premier prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, has been determined today by The Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) which celebrates the legacy of the third Philippine president whom the award is named after. This year, five individuals from Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that the late president did is formally named.
South Korea, Myanmar, India, Thailand and of course, the Philippines – these are the five countries in which the 2019 awardees reside.
From South Korea, Kim Jong-ki, a businessman who founded the Foundation for Preventing Youth Violence (FPYV), the first organized effort in the country to recognize school violence as a serious social issue affecting students, families, schools, and society as a whole.
The board recognizes him for “his quiet courage in transforming private grief into a mission to protect Korea’s youth from the scourge of bullying and violence, his unstinting dedication to the goal of instilling among the young the values of self-esteem, tolerance, and mutual respect, and his effectively mobilizing all sectors of the country in a nationwide drive that has transformed both policy and behaviors towards building a gentler, non-violent society.”
From Myanmar, Ko Swe Win is given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership. He is one of the country’s most reputable journalists as he faced tremendous challenges such as torture, assault, and prison in the name of unveiling the truth (no matter how ugly) behind the country’s politics and social institutions.
He is recognized for “his undaunted commitment to practice independent, ethical, and socially engaged journalism in Myanmar; his incorruptible sense of justice and unflinching pursuit of the truth in crucial but under-reported issues; and his resolute insistence that it is in the quality and force of media’s truth-telling that we can convincingly protect human rights in the world.”
From India, Ravish Kumar is another journalist who believes in upholding the professional values of sober, balanced, and fact-based reporting, especially in times like these where “fake news” is widely promulgated, and sensationalism as well as “tabloidization” is heavily celebrated by other publications.
He is recognized for “his unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity, and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy.”
From Thailand, Angkhana Neelapaijit is a human rights advocate who founded Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF), a group of advocates who have done important work in raising public awareness for the human rights situation in the country, and pushing government institutions to act on human rights cases, provide legal assistance to victims, and train women on human rights and the peace process.
She is recognized for “her unwavering courage in seeking justice for her husband and many other victims of violence and conflict in southern Thailand; her systematic, unflagging work to reform a flawed and unfair legal system, and the shining proof she is that the humblest ordinary person can achieve national impact in deterring human rights abuses.”
Lastly, but certainly not the least – from the Philippines, Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab. Ryan Cayabyab is one of the country’s biggest influencers on creating and celebrating its rich musical culture and honing the youth’s passion and talent in music. A composer, arranger, music director, conductor, and performer, Cayabyab pays it forward by also training the next generation of musicians and equipping them with all that he knows from his years in the industry.
He is recognized for “his compositions and performances that have defined and inspired Filipino popular music across generations; his indomitable, undeterred confidence to selflessly seek, mentor, and promote young Filipino musical genius for the global stage; and his showing us all that music can indeed instill pride and joy, and unify people across the many barriers that divide them.”
“The Magsaysay awardees of 2019,” says RMAF President Carmencita Abella, “all reflect courage undaunted, in their commitment to build solutions to vital and complex issues in their societies. Theirs is a moral courage that is unfazed d by repressive systems, or social divisions, or institutional resistance, or deep cultural prejudice, or even by the burdens of building the capacities of others. Embracing the challenges of their respective advocacies, these leaders take bold, creative, and empowering actions that engage others to do likewise. Perhaps the most powerful impact of their leadership can be seen in the heightened moral courage they have inspired among the many whose lives they have touched.”
She adds, “Their approaches are all deeply anchored on a respect for human dignity, and a faith in the power of collective endeavor. We draw much hope from the 2019 Magsaysay awardees, and have much to celebrate about their accomplishments and greatness of spirit.”
The five 2019 Magsaysay awardees join the community of 330 other Magsaysay laureates who have received Asia’s highest honor and premier prize to date. This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during formal Presentation Ceremonies to be held on Monday, 9 September 2019 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The public is cordially invited to attend these Ceremonies.