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By Jamie Marie Elona
Kabayan Weekly is now a step closer to declaring who among nominated United Arab Emirates-based Filipinos will be hailed as Nurse of the Year and Kabayan of the Year following theconclusion of the final judging of nominees last Thursday, April 7.
Twenty-four Filipinos, nominated by their colleagues and friends, were invited by Kabayan Weekly not to just plainly justify why they deserve to be awarded of the titles, but to celebrate their lives well lived not just for their own benefit and of their loved ones, but for the goodness of many others who may be as far as strangers to them.
Graced with the presence of three judges – Deputy Consul General Giovanni Palec of the Philippine Consulate General office in Dubai and Northern Emirates; Wafa Qasimieh, senior adviser at the Islamic Affairs, and chairperson of Philippine Independence Day 2016 committee; Amy Miranda from Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital; and Kabayan of the Year 2015 Nelson Nico – nominees were asked different questions, all of which mainly asked them to make an elaboration of their involvement in the Filipino community, or in the sector they belong to, in effect made them deserving to be considered as exemplary.
Among the nominated nurses who were able to attend the activity are Baby Pepito, Ritchie Pagkaliwangan, Marites Alovera, Myra Teano, Victoria Domingo, Dante Sol, and Maria Mirasol Covarrubias. Other nominees are Amor Bendico, Chievan Untalan, Rogelio Buezon, May Erika Wong, and Abigail Prende. For the Kabayan of the Year, nominees who made it to the gathering are Nestor Tampus III, Socoro Magramo, Nino Decenorio, Bulozare Burlaza, Marc Muncal, Desiree Vlekken, Mercedes Macalalad, and Edwin Abacan. Other nominees are Patrick Fronda, Clemencia Montecillo, Michelle Guinto, and Shelwin Diego.
Before the event proper, nominees were asked to sit together as a group for them to get to know more about each other, and share among themselves their life stories over a sumptuous dinner prepared by Barrio Fiesta.
Many of the nominees were escorted by some of their family members.
At the event proper, nominees were all given five minutes to introduce themselves, and three minutes to answer a question from one of the judges.
Some of the questions asked were “How do you separate yourself from the rest?” “In real life, how can you be a real hero for OFWs as a nurse?” “Among your achievements, what do you think is your greatest achievement in life and how do you think can you extend your achievement to help or reach out to our . . . kababayans?” and “Supposed you will be chosen as Kabayan of the year . . . what are your . . . plans, projects that you are going to share to everybody to uplift the condition, the educational, and the lifestyle of Filipinos?”
One of the nominees was also asked: “. . . How can you influence . . . convince people also from poor families . . . to be successful in life?” Another was asked: “What is your greatest loss and achievement?” and a rather more personal question to one of the nominees who has raised his family as an OFW: “What are the ingredients for being great parents?”
Aside from these types of questions, the judges also asked some of the nominees to talk about the projects or activities that they were able to make for the Filipino community, or, involving Filipinos here in the UAE.
In their speeches, nominees expressed their gratitude towards their nominators, and to Kabayan Weekly for recognizing their efforts, and for giving them a chance to share stories of their lives to other Filipinos in the UAE.
One female nominee, who apparently was a survivor of a recent attack in Brussels, said being nominated for Kabayan of the Year was an “answered prayer” after she asked for a sign that would make her want to continue her advocacy after having a life-threatening experience.
In his opening remarks, Kabayan Weekly Publisher Atallah Muhammad Habib talked about reasons as to why a person is distinguished.
According to him, aside from having a “positive reputation” and being “successful by default,” a person is distinguished for being “a good role model” for a community he/she represents—in this case, the Filipino community.
There are other reasons why a person is distinguished, he added. But the most important factor for him is to be distinguished for being an “inspiration to others.”
For his part, Palec acknowledged the efforts of Kabayan Weekly to recognized exemplary Filipino workers in the country.
“In behalf of my panel members, it has been a pleasure knowing all the nominees and candidates for Kabayan of the Year and Nurse of the Year, and it’s always been admirable to know the achievements as well as the involvement of all of you.
“ . . . We would like to thank Kabayan Weekly for honoring you, and the rest of the Filipinos . . . because this inspires our kababayans to do better in their own fields, and contribute a lot more so they can uplift Filipinos working here in the UAE and in the Middle East,” Palec said.
He also reminded all the nominees that should all consider themselves as winners for the contributions that they have made.
The results of the event, which is tagged as the “Final Judging Night,” forms part of the criteria identified for this annual search. Personality is 10 percent, Professional Achievement is 60 percent, and Community Involve-ment is 30 percent.