By Marivir R. Montebon
The formula is one and the same: tender loving care for marriages and parenting to succeed. Before receiving their award as one of the Outstanding Parents of 2017, Knights of Rizal regional commander (USA) Francis Sison said TLC is the key to a lasting marriage and good parenting.
The 1st Outstanding Parents Awards and Gala was organized by the Filipino International Community of America (FICA) at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Newark, NJ on July 22, 2017 in celebration of the National Parents Day, a law enacted during the administration of Pres. William Clinton in 1994 as a way to strengthen families in America. It was hosted by FICA president Emiljun Rapada and this writer. Grammy awardee singer Dennis Sy and singer-actress Kirby Asunto entertained the guests with their songs.
Sison and his wife, Lady Evelyn were among the 16 awardees. They were also recently the only Filipino couple accorded the National Parents Award by the Family Federation for World Peace USA at the Madison Square Garden on July 15 in time for the “Peace Starts With Me” rally.
And in his acceptance speech in the 1st OPAG, Mr. Sison encouraged children to always show their love for their parents because “you would not know when their chairs would be empty.”
Ricardo and Magdalena Velasco were the oldest couple among the awardees who have been together for 57 years. Their daughter Joselyn said love was the only reason for their staying power of her parents. Joselyn is herself married to Rev. Yasuhiro Hori, a minister of the Unification Church, whom she has six children, all raised in the US.
Daniel and Maria-April Martin received the award with great pride and elation that evening as their son Raymond Alan simultaneously won his gold medal in the Paralympics in London. In 2012 and 2013, Raymond Alan harvested gold and silver medals too as a Paralympic athlete.
The OPAG is set to become a tradition as FICA president Rapada said his organization will make it an annual event to honor parents who have done extraordinary tasks of raising good and responsible children.
Rapada honored his own parents, retired government employees Conrado and Magdalena Rapada during the event. The Rapada couple has been married for 47 years and blessed with 7 children and 21 grandchildren. Of the entire set of awardees, Eduardo and Emilia Mollena have the most number of children, a great bunch of 13, and now they are enjoying 22 grandchildren as well.
Phil.Consul Arman Talbo and UPF president Ricardo de Sena formally handed the plaques and tokens to the parent awardees. Philippine Consul General Maria Theresa Dizon-de Vega said in her congratulatory message that it was only apt that “we honor and thank them this way…In appreciation of the selfless commitment and lifelong sacrifices of parents in nurturing their children.”
The 1st OPAG was sponsored by Family Federation for World Peace and Unity (USA), Universal Peace Federation USA, Western Union, GMA Pinoy TV, Babata New York and Jollibee.
Vice president for external affairs Elena Bahian closed the 1st OPAG acknowledging the guests and sponsors of the event. “We are grateful for the success of this event because of you. And next year will be better.”
Special guest Alan Saunders congratulated the awardees and the Filipino community for their strong family ties and inclusive culture. “It takes a village to raise a child. This is your strength and we in America are learning from you,” the educational adviser for UNESCO Center for Global Education noted. (Featured photo is Knights of Rizal regional commander Francis Dizon and Lady Evelyn. Photos by EJ Rapada and Marivir R. Montebon)