Dubai: One of the highlights of the Bayanihan Festival is the Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFWs’) Bayani 2017 Award. This prestigious title, ‘Bayani’, means a ‘hero’ who is admired for being courageous and an outstanding achiever.
The awards were bestowed on five overseas Filipinos for their great accomplishments and contributions to the community.
Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News: “The OFW Bayani award is given to the overseas Filipino who exemplifies the global migrant — mindful of his cultural heritage, aggressive about providing an international platform for Philippine skills and expertise, tolerant of other cultures and shows utmost hospitality to other peoples, incredibly ambitious about his/her vision to use his/her profession for the benefit of his countrymen, his nation and the rest of humanity. The awardee is the epitome of the 21st century global Filipino — forward looking and deeply rooted in the service of humanity.”
Consul-General Cortes, the chief judge for selecting the Bayani awardees, was guided by the following criteria: their community involvement/engagement at 70 per cent, and their awards/recognition received at 20 per cent and career success story at 10 per cent.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, the five heroes were humbled and honoured to receive this award. When asked about how they felt about this recognition, Rex Barraca said: “Elated, when I first heard about. Thankful to God and valued by the recognition. It is also a feeling of validation in the most humbling way. Being a Bayani awardee gave me the realisation that I have chosen the right path.”
Francis Errol Medina said: “It’s a form of validation in making a difference in changing lives of our fellow kababayan (compatriot). I also believe that I have found my purpose and my ministry to help our kababayan towards their financial freedom here in the GCC. I dream that Filipinos overseas will be expat entrepreneurs in the near future.”
Dennis Alejandria said: “I am humbled to have been chosen as one of the awardees of Bayani Award. It is both an honour and a great challenge to consistently do good things for family and community. I have been an OFW for 10 years, and am able to help my family especially in the education of my nephews and niece, along with being able to support my nephew continuously battling cancer for over five years. I am a happy and proud volunteer trainer and dean of Filipino Institute Ajman campus.”
Russelito Sanchez said: Honestly, I was not expecting this award, Considering the amount of successful Filipinos in the UAE. I am very honoured and privileged to receive this once-in-a-lifetime award.”
Noel Castillo said: “I’m so delighted and privileged for being recognised as one of the recipients of this prestigious award. I always go by my father’s advice since I was young, ‘Always work for the people and know your responsibility’.”
Dr Rex Venard Bacarra is a PhD, professor, head of Professional Development — General Education Philosophy of American College of Dubai. He has received several awards recognising his contributions in the field of education in the UAE, the Philippines, and other countries. One of the most notable accomplishments is: when he was invited by the most reputable MC Graw Hill Education in the UK to talk about Digital Learning. He is also one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf.
Francis Errol Medina is a chief executive officer, restaurant owner of Hap Chan (Dela Rosa Makati, SM Dasmarinas, SM Southmall and SM Bicutan Branch). He is also the current head of Strategic Marketing & Business Improvement of Hilti Middle East FZE Middle East, Turkey, Africa JAFZA, Dubai, UAE. He is highly known in the community for his financial literacy advocacy.
Noel Castillo is a senior mechanical engineer at Atkins, Dubai. He held various positions and has been consistently active in community development and engagements organised by the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Dennis Alejandria is a secretary to the CEO at INECO Limited, UAE. He is known in the Filipino community especially in Ajman as “Dencio” who takes strong leadership to provide a commendable training platform for kababayan in the Northern Emirates. His thrust is to help upgrade their knowledge and skills through various short course programmes offered by the Filipino Institute. Apart from that, he has also involved in providing community service through his ‘Pamaskong Handog Program’, which has already run for many years.
Russelito Sanchez is popularly known as a brand ambassador and beverage consultant with more than 18 years of experience in hospitality industry. He is a multi-international awardee in many competitions in Dubai and other parts of the world. He is known for his advocacy to help other people in the hotel industry achieve world-class status.