By Cristina DC Pastor
In celebration of Filipino American History Month, The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) presents this year’s accomplished individuals with varied talents, superb achievements, and who make service to the community a meaningful part of their lives.

White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford; pilot with missing limbs Jennifer Cox; California Assembly Member Rob Bonta; and ‘Miss Saigon’s “Engineer” Jon Jon Briones are among this year’s crop of awardees for TOFA, now on its seventh year.

Joining them are CBS New York anchor-reporter Hazel Sanchez, community organizer in the Nation’s Capital Bing Branigin; Silicon Valley techpreneur/consultant Christina Laskowski, celebrity designer Rocky Gathercole, executive director Jason Tengco of NaFFAA, fashion photographer Filbert Kung; gastroenterologist Dr. Noel Fajardo, an advocate for colon cancer awareness; female boxer and mixed martial artist Ana Julaton; luxury men’s clothing designer Amable Yalong; Knights of Rizal Regional Commander for the USA Francis Sison; and cancer survivor Sylvia Labial Buhian who founded a club that empowers women.

TOFA 2017 Awardees:

Arts & Culture
FILBERT DIEGO KUNG
Los Angeles, California

Business & Entrepreneurship
AMABLE TOLENTINO YALONG
Englewood, New Jersey

Community Service & Advocacy
BING CARDENAS BRANIGIN
Washington, District of Columbia

Courage of Conviction
JESSICA COX
Tucson, Arizona

Entertainment
JON JON BRIONES
Los Angeles, California

Fashion & Style
ROCKY GATHERCOLE
Los Angeles, California

Health Care
DR. NOEL FAJARDO
Las Vegas, Nevada

Media & Publishing
HAZEL SANCHEZ RAPCIEWICZ
Jersey City, New Jersey

Public Service & Politics
ASSEMBLYMEMBER ROB BONTA
Alameda, California

Research & Technology
CHRISTINA LASKOWSKI
Silicon Valley, California

Senior Welfare & Advocacy
FRANCIS DIAZ SISON
Jersey City, New Jersey

Sports
ANA JULATON
Las Vegas

Women Empowerment
SYLVIA LABIAL BUHIAN
Queens, New York

Youth
JASON BENJAMIN TENGCO
Washington, District of Columbia

And

Heritage Award
CRISTETA PASIA COMERFORD
Washington, District of Columbia

Founded by New York-based journalist Elton Lugay in December 2010, The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) Awards give recognition to organizations and individuals who have raised the profile of Filipino Americans. Serving on the TOFA board are TOFA New York co-founder Cristina DC Pastor, who is the founding editor of The FilAm and co-host at Makilala TV; property management professional Erno Hormillosa; concert promoter Vince Gesmundo; and Robert and Melissa Mendoza of Mountaintop Productions.

Notable TOFA awardees have included Tony winners Lea Salonga, Bobby Lopez and Jhett Tolentino; Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas; fashion designers Monique Lhuillier, Josie Natori, and Betina Ocampo; Mahwah, New Jersey Councilmember Jonathan Wong and New York City Commission on Human Rights Chair Carmelyn Malalis; transgender activist Geena Rocero; investigative journalist Sheila Coronel; and Ambassador Mario de Leon.
The 7th Annual TOFA Awards will be presented October 28 at the beautiful Carnegie Hall. Dr. Boy Abunda, “Asia’s King of Talk,” returns again this year to host the program. Consul General Theresa Dizon de Vega and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis have accepted the invitation to speak at this year’s event. Various community and youth organizations will also participate in the show.

TOFA showcases how Filipino Americans have enriched the cultural diversity that makes America one of the greatest nations in the world. Across fields, such as theater, fashion, cuisine, activism, politics, and health care, FilAms contribute to an ever-progressive society. In a way, TOFA has served to inspire Filipinos all over the world to be the best they can, while promoting the rich heritage of the Philippines, where all the honorees originated.

The 7th Annual TOFA Awards is presented by Wells Fargo in cooperation with INQUIRER.net, and Mountaintop Productions.

(C) 2017 The FilAm

Source: Part 1
Part 2: This year’s TOFA honorees: Profiles in excellence
Part 3: Radical, pioneering creatives in this year’s TOFA


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