By Bong Forouzan
Presidential “Banaag” Awardee 2014
‘Danny’ Favor: Presidential “Banaag” Awardee 2014
On Friday, 5th December 2014 Councilor Danilo Martirez Favor of East Grinstead (United Kingdom), received the prestigious Banaag Award from the President of the Republic of the Philippines, his Excellency President Benigno Aquino III (Ninoy/PNoy), during the awarding ceremonies and celebratory dinner hosted by the President at the auspicious Rizal Hall of the Malacañang Palace.
The citation this year was a star-studded ceremony, as among the awardees were “stars” first in their own fields. Among them were, internationally acclaimed singer-actress Lea Salonga who also sang her song, “Tagumpay Nating Lahat,” during the event; UAE-based fashion designer Michael Cinco, who have designed clothes for Hollywood celebrities like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga; Jasmine Lee, the first Filipina and foreign-born citizen to be elected in the National Assembly of South Korea; Marianito O. Asperilla (USA), an infectious disease specialist who introduced the multi-country bioterrorism response group to deal with the threat of bioterrorism; Katherine R. Luzuriaga (USA), a pediatric immunologist, who was part of the team that cured an infant with HIV in the US; Baldomero M. Olivera (USA), a chemist and distinguished professor of Biology at the University of Utah, who made ground breaking research in cone nail toxins which is important for neuroscience; Alfredo R. Roces (Australia), a versatile artist, anthropologist, historian, essayist, and photographer based in Australia; Jonathan D. Irabagon (USA), an award-winning saxophonist who was named one of the New York City jazz icons; Lolita Valderrama Savage (USA), a painter whose artworks were internationally exhibited in the US, Europe, and Asia; Paolo Antonio S. Silva (USA), an ophthalmologist who made pioneering contributions in retina research in the US and helped establish the first telemedicine program for diabetic eye disease in the Philippines; and Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi (France), an internationally acclaimed painter and printmaker.
White House chef Cristeta Comerford, the first Asian and woman executive chef served/serving Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama; world renowned classical musician Cecile Licad; investigative journalist Sheila Coronel, currently dean of the Columbia University in New York; and multi-awarded “Let It Go” composer Robert Lopez ” who is also the first Filipino EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) recipient; were also among the awardees but unable to receive the recognition in person.
In his speech, before presenting the awards, President Aquino III indicated his hope that the awardees treat the citations “as invitations to continue your pursuit of excellence, and the way you bring pride and honour to our country.” He added, “let us continue doing our very best to fulfil our individual roles in nation building. We have changed the way the world sees us, and we must build on this; we must ride our current momentum and show the world that the excellence of the Filipino knows no bounds.” President Aquino also said that the awardees serve as inspirations to other overseas-based Filipinos because they “help to forge a sense of community on distant shores, and who display to the world the innate talents and drive of our people.”The Awards:
Institutionalized in 1991 through Executive Order 498 by former President Corazon C. Aquino, Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas (PAFIOO) is a biennial recognition to overseas Filipinos and other individuals or organizations who have exceptionally distinguished themselves in their work or profession, contribute to Philippine development initiatives, or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities and have thereby brought honour to the Filipino nation.
PAFIOO is a direct derivative from Proclamation No. 276 made by the former president (in the same year) declaring December of every year as Month of Overseas Filipinos as a tribute and encouragement for their participation in the development activities in the country. So thus, the traditional PAFIOO conferment ceremonies conducted in the month of December.There are four major PAFIOO category awards:
LINGKOD SA KAPWA PILIPINO (LINKAPIL) AWARD – to credit exceptional or significant contribution to reconstruction, progress and development in the Philippines.KAANIB NG BAYAN AWARD – to credit exceptional or significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress and development, or have significantly benefited a sector or community in the Philippines, or advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities.
BANAAG AWARD – to credit significant contribution to advance the cause or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities.
PAMANA NG PILIPINO AWARD – to credit those who, in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honour and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession.[A distinct category in the awards is also reserved for foreign individuals or organizations for their exceptional contribution to the Philippines and for advancing the cause of overseas Filipino communities.] Since inception, the awards have already been bestowed upon 367 Filipino individuals and organization overseas from 46 countries and territories.
This year, there were 157 nominees from 29 countries (through 40 Philippine Embassies and Consulates) that went through rigid selection process but only 33 came through the ‘sifting’. Favor was one of the 33 recipients under the BANAAG AWARD category.Favor’s credentials:
Philippine media coverage of the awards ceremonies, listed Danilo Favor as one (1) of the eight (8) Banaag Awardees credited for being the first Filipino town councillor in United Kingdom.
“Danny” (to his family, friends and colleagues) stood for local elections in East Grinstead (Ashplats Ward) in 2011 and won second highest votes for the Conservative Party. That alone is a big qualifying credit under his belt. He indeed brought honours to the Phil-Anglo community and the Filipino nation being the first full blooded Pilipino who entered British politics and won.
“Got no plan and it’s all beyond my imagination and dreams to be in politics (more so British politics) but one month before the national election in May 2011 a very persuasive lady district and county councillor approached me (many times) to join them by standing as Town Councillor in East Grinstead, West Sussex. The persuading pitch was that ‘am needed in the community and due to my track records as President of the Filipino-British Association of East Grinstead (FBAEG) from 2009-2011 and dedicated involvements in various community groups and organizations not only in East Grinstead but surrounding areas, made [me] more than qualified,’ Cllr Favor explained.
He continued, “I told the campaign team that I can always serve the community without being elected as Town Councillor. Finally, my wife, Maribel, said why not just sign the candidacy form, you will not win anyway. So I reluctantly did and unexpectedly won a great victory on 6th May 2011. That was the start of my political career. However, I humbly admit I am not a politician. I am merely a public servant and spokesperson of my constituents and the community I serve and represent.”
The Selection Committee endorsed Cllr Favor’s political achievement, considering “As the first Filipino Town Councillor in England, his unexpected victory was a destined-dream-come-true. It was a source of honour, encouragement, and inspiration not only for the Filipino communities in England but for the Philippines itself as well as his constituents. In this respect, he received special acknowledgements and recognitions from the Philippine Embassy in London and Filipino Community Groups and Organizations in England.”
So what else has Danny Favor done to merit a Presidential Banaag Award, other than being a Pinoy politician in UK?
The Selection Committee, organised by the Commission for Filipino Overseas (CFO) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – both designated organising bodies by Executive Order 498 to put together selection committees, procedures and requirements – noted the following additional credits that favoured Favor’s nomination:
As a politician, Cllr Favor is also elected Vice Chairman of the town's charities (Parish Halls and Chequer Mead Community Art Centre), member/trustee at Age UK East Grinstead & District and member to various other community committees. He has linked these charities and committees with different government agencies and non-government organizations and served as contact person of overseas Filipinos in UK for advice and guidance on such cases as illegal recruitment, domestic abuse, undocumented Filipinos; and with the support of the Philippine Embassy in London sorted out few cases of sudden illness and deaths of unfortunate fellowmen.
He is a Registered Nurse, an Ophthalmic Nurse Practitioner / Charge Nurse / Clinical Education Lead Nurse at the Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (QVH) in Grinstead. His colleagues, friends, and patients consider him as an excellent leader, kind, caring reliable, considerate, and hardworking professional who led projects that significantly contributed to the well-being of his fellow Filipinos and constituents. As a full time nurse he received a Service Improvement Award for establishing the first Nurse-Led-Post-Operative Cataract Clinic at QVH to improve the quality of patient service. The clinic provided professional growth and development opportunities for nurses, reduced patient's waiting time, freed doctors for more complex cases, and generated additional income for the Trust. He was an exemplary colleague and recently received the wholehearted nomination of his patients and their relatives for the Nursing Standard Patient's Choice Award at QVH.
Danny Favor and his family migrated to the United Kingdom in 2000. They lived in East Grinstead for more than eleven (11) years and Danny became active in numerous community organisations. He was three (3) years consecutive president of FBAEG consisting of more than 360 members. This is how he started his community services and voluntary works that paved the way to his political career and public-servant services. On his disclosure document for his election candidacy, he listed affiliations to 31 organisation (14 of which are charity orientated) where he exercises functions of public nature. He successfully organised various events that promoted wellness, sportsmanship, preservation and promotion of Filipino culture and traditions and unity among many communities. Danny & his team were responsible for organising the first successful Town Festival (Barrio Fiesta) in the Southeast of England in 2009.
As the founder, managing director, and chairman of the Filipino-British Nurses Extra Care East Grinstead Ltd. (ExtraCare) – a registered public, charitable and non-profit club composed of health care professionals, registered nurses, health care staff and volunteers – Mr Favor spearheaded free health screening check-ups and health education for community groups and local organisations wherein public and charitable services were also conducted designed to help improve awareness and access to health care; and with emphasis on social, cultural, educational, and sports activities.
When super typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Haiyan aka Yolanda hit the Philippines, Favor’s team organised and helped various fundraising events for the relief operations and school rebuilding projects in some of the badly hit areas. He and his team personally reached out and gave relief goods to several thousands of less fortunate families devastated by these typhoons. Recently, a public grade school building in Jaro 1 Leyte Philippines (destroyed by typhoon Haiyan) was completely rebuilt and now named East Grinstead Building after the kindness and generosity of the people of East Grinstead.
He and his team also successfully fundraised towards the redecoration and repair of one the churches in East Grinstead and is currently fundraising to help street children in the Philippines.Favor also supports Dementia Respite Club of Age UK East Grinstead & District, where he has organised several fundraising events/functions to support the club’s education program in raising awareness and understanding of dementia.
On October 2014 he was also one of the recipients of Mid Sussex District Council Community Service Awards. He and his ExtraCare Team was also nominee of the recent Sussex Sports (Workplace Health) Awards 2014. He was also a nominee to Bagong Bayani Awards 2013 of Bagong Bayani Foundation, Inc. Philippines.
In summary, the PAFIOO Selection Committee concluded that “the many pursuits of Mr. Danilo M. Favor have surpassed his calling as a registered nurse and extended unselfishly for the benefit and well-being of his constituents and countrymen both in England and in the Philippines, as well as, serve as a testimonial to the bayanihan spirit that is deeply ingrained in every Filipino soul... Cllr Favor was recognised by the President of the Republic of The Philippines for his historic achievement as the first officially elected Filipino politician in England, his outstanding contributions to the community, public and charity works and his commendable pro-activism for the improvement of health and well-being of his constituents as well as his beneficiaries in the Philippines.”Favor’ Commitment/s:
Danny is a Bicolano from Iriga who completed a general nursing (RN) degree in the Philippines and was formerly working at Makati Medical Centre. In 1983, he ventured to seek overseas employment and was fortunate to be recruited by King Khalid National Guard Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. After two years working hard and alone in Jeddah, a new inspiration came in the form of a beautiful Ilocana maiden from Candon (Ilocos Sur), Maribel “Mabel” Pascua, who commenced nursing duties at the same hospital. “That’s when and where our love story began,” enthused Danny. Three years romance got them both to commit into lifetime married status. On October 20 1986, Danny and Mabel tied-the-knot; and which they enhanced 20 years after in a well-attended renewal-of-vows ceremony and silver wedding anniversary held at Our Lady & St Peter Catholic Church in East Grinstead, where [he] also serve as one of the lay Ministers.
Earlier on, the young couple stayed working in Jeddah; thirteen (13) years for Danny and ten (10) for Mabel. “We both came from ordinary family status, so life was so tough when we were students and as a young couple. We are both eldest among large numbers of brothers and sisters [seven (7) for me and six (6) for her] so we needed to work hard abroad to be able to financially support both our families in their school needs and daily living expenses,” Danny recalls with a hint of nostalgia. Their hard work did pay-off as a number of family members and relatives owed them both their successful education.
The couple was also blessed with two (2) robust sons, Mark Daniel (Mark) and Dan Kristoffer (Kris). In 2000, Danny and his growing young family migrated to UK. “Our initial plan is only a two (2) years stay in the UK as I have an immigrant working visa in USA with family status. I passed all my nursing exams and requirements and was just waiting for my schedule to depart for the US,” said Danny. But after a year, the couple settled at work at QVH in East Grinstead, got a mortgage for a house and their boys advanced in school. “All of us were happy to live in UK so we decided to stay longer until we became British citizens and my two boys had graduated in University,” he added. The couple also completed specialist ophthalmology nurses studies at King's College (London). British life suited them well. Their American dream now became a holiday pleasure. The rest of their story is now a continuing history.
“We are both also proud that our sons are also inspired and passionate on voluntary public and charity works,” said Danny. Both, are Kingston University graduates. Mark, is a computer software engineer who is happy with his current job and has recently secured a mortgate for a 2 bedroom flat whilst actively involved with ExtraCare’s ongoing projects, helping conduct free health screening check-ups. Kris already completed sports analysis & coaching degree but is currently taking personal trainor post graduate studies whilst working at Sackville College. Kris is the Sport Coordinator for the ExtraCare Team and had joined several fundraising events ie British Heart Foundation and Research and for the repair of Church in East Grinstead. As winner of the recent Mr Bicolandia UK 2014, Kris donated the funds he raised from the pageant to his current charity project -- the construction of basketball court in Anayan-Sagrada Public Elementary School, for the school children and youth of the Baranggays in Pili, Camarines Sur, Philippines.
Finally, for Cllr Danny Favor, the PAFIOO Banaag Award 2014 is not his journey alone and would like to share this lifetime prestigious award to all the people behind all his achievements. “He humbly wanted to personally thank and pay tribute to the unified team efforts, the kind and generous support of everyone who have made this milestone a reality, most especially to Almighty God for his abundant love & blessings, his wife Maribel and their children for their 100% support, Mr Jess Mandaong for his nomination and believing in him, East Grinstead Town Council, Chequer Mead Community Art Centre, Extra Care Team, Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, various community groups and organizations, Philippine Embassy London headed by His Excellency Ambassador Enrique Manalo, ConGen Senen Mangalile, Consul Rommel Romato and others for backing up the nomination, people of East Grinstead, JLWWWC, his constituents, Bicol families, friends, relatives and colleagues. What a great and wonderful community spirit that were instrumental to make all these happened.”
Danny – who also celebrated his “…tieth” birthday last December 29 – is truly honoured receiving this once in a lifetime prestigious award, a truthfully motivational and inspirational experience, a kind of legacy that he and his family will forever value and treasure and hoping to continue for as long as he/they can, in his/their own little way.
“I am very much aware that there are many community members and leaders out there who are even more deserving to receive acknowledgement and prestigious award like this for tirelessly doing great works for our community and people. I hope this honour bestowed on me will give them more inspirations and encouragements to continue making real difference to our fellowmen here (abroad) and in the Philippines. Let's continue to reach out and touch the lives of those less fortunate members of our society. Every little help counts and can make life better. Together we are stronger; together we can achieve better and make a real difference. Once again, this once and a lifetime prestigious award is for us all. Mabuhay po tayong lahat at marami pong salamat,” concludes the grateful, beaming with pride Councillor, Danilo M. Favor.
To this, on behalf of the Phil-Anglo community, we say: Salamat and Mabuhay Cllr Danny for adding to the ‘pride of the Filipino people and nation.’ More power to you! ///ends-bongF