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The 6 Heroes of Hope in Asia, Ramon Magsaysay Awardees 2018

In the 60th year of an annual tradition, the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) announced that for 2018 six individuals from Cambodia, East Timor, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam will receive Asia’s premier prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

The 2018 Magsaysay Awardees are:


Youk Chhang, from Cambodia. He is being recognized for “his great, unstinting labor in preserving the memory of the Cambodian genocide, and his leadership and vision in transforming the memory of horror into a process of attaining and preserving justice in his nation and the world.”

Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz, from East Timor. She is being recognized for “her pure humanitarianism in uplifting Timor Leste’s poor, her valiant pursuit of social justice and peace, and her nurturing the development of autonomous, self-reliant, caring citizens, so vital in new, post-conflict nations in the world.”

Howard Dee, from the Philippines. He is being recognized for “his quietly heroic half-century of service to the Filipino people, his abiding dedication to the pursuit of social justice and peace in achieving dignity and progress for the poor, and his being, by his deeds, a true servant of his Faith and an exemplary citizen of his nation.”

Bharat Vatwani, from India. He is being recognized for “his tremendous courage and healing compassion in embracing India’s mentally-afflicted destitute, and his steadfast and magnanimous dedication to the work of restoring and affirming the human dignity of even the most ostracized in our midst.”

Vo Thi Hoang Yen, from Vietnam. She is being recognized for “her dauntless spirit and prodigious energy in rising above her condition; her creative, charismatic leadership in the sustained campaign to break down physical and mental barriers that have marginalized PWDs in Vietnam; and for being a shining, inspirational model for the young in her country and elsewhere in the world.”

Sonam Wangchuk, from India. He is being recognized for “his uniquely systematic, collaborative and community-driven reform of learning systems in remote northern India, thus improving the life opportunities of Ladakhi youth, and his constructive engagement of all sectors in local society to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress, thus setting an example for minority peoples in the world.”

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honor. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.

“The Magsaysay awardees of 2018,”says RMAF President Carmencita Abella, “are clearly Asia’s heroes of hope, moving their societies forward through their unequivocal pursuit of the larger good. In genuine solidarity with the disadvantaged and marginalized, each one has addressed real and complex issues with bold, and creative, and pragmatic action that has engaged others to do likewise. The results of their leadership are manifest in the changed lives of the many they have influenced.”

She adds, “All are unafraid to take on large causes. All have refused to give up, despite meager resources, daunting adversity and strong opposition. 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 2018 Magsaysay awardees, and much to celebrate about their accomplishments and greatness of spirit.”

The six 2018 Magsaysay awardees join the community of 324 other Magsaysay laureates who have received Asia’s highest honor 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 Friday, 31 August 2018 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, to which the public is cordially invited.

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