Balan, PWC, Sayas: PHL Presidential Awardees

Pilipino Workers Center officers (FB)
Best designer of National Humanities Medal (PNews file)

LOS ANGELES – Twenty-five outstanding overseas Filipinos and foreign-based organizations were conferred presidential awards by President Rodrigo Duterte in ceremonies held on Dec. 5, at Malacanang Palace, Manila.

Among them are Paul C. Balan (US), a coinage and medal designer based in Chicago, the first Filipino and first Asian whose designs have been selected for commemorative coins and congressional medals of the United States; C. Joe Sayas Jr., (US), foremost Filipino-American litigation lawyer based in Los Angeles, who has recovered more than $125 million dollars in compensation and settlements for thousands of individuals, workers and injured clients; and the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California (US), housed in LA’s Larry Itliong Village.

The awardees come from 12 countries and territories, and went through a 4-stage selection process involving multi-sectoral representation. This year’s awardees were selected from a total of 96 nominations received by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas from 28 countries through 37 Philippine Embassies and Consulates across Asia, North and South America, Africa, Europe and Australia.

The awardees were thoroughly screened by four different committees from the Philippine Foreign Service Posts, an inter-agency Technical Committee, a multi-sectoral Executive Committee, and finally by the Office of the President.

Lawyer C. Joe Sayas (FB)


Both Balan and Sayas are among 11 distinguished Filipinos who received the Pamana ng Pilipino Award, conferred on Filipinos overseas “who, in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession.”


Other Pamana ng Pilipino awardees are:

  • Edward M. Brotonel (US) — A special agent in the US Army Criminal Investigation Division, recognized for uncovering major theft and fraud in the US Army, Pentagon and during the post-911 Iraq reconstruction;
  • Nicolas M. Caraquel (US) — An immigration lawyer based in New York who broke out of poverty through his determination and hard work;
  • Elizabeth L. Engle (US) — A pioneering woman engineer in Alaska, who served in various leadership roles and managed major pipeline projects;
  • Maria Theresa A. Eviota (Switzerland) — A housekeeper based in Berne, Switzerland, who has served excellently in various foreign embassies and diplomatic residences;
  • Pedro A. Jose (US) — A scientist, physician and academician, known for his breakthrough research and practice on hypertension;
  • Teresita A. Marquez (Portugal) – A professor of music, renowned musician, composer and director who founded award-winning choir groups in Lisbon;
  • Jose Dennis C. Teodosio (Myanmar) – A multi-awarded writer for TV, cinema, advertising and the stage who supported Myanmar’s media transition;
  • Saturnino H. Tiamzon Jr. (Hongkong) – A versatile musician who brought pride, honor and service to the country with his exemplary achievements, leadership and civic engagements; and
  • Jhett D. Tolentino (US) – A Broadway producer based in New York, the first Filipino to garner both Tony and Grammy awards.



The Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California, based in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown, is one of seven recipients of the Banaag Award which is conferred on Filipino individuals or organizations that have significantly benefited or advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities. The PWC “serves as an integral part in the statewide and nationwide movement to uplift the dignity of caregivers, fights for labor protection, and advocates for fair wages and suitable working conditions of Filipino caregivers and domestic workers in Southern California.”

Other Banaag awardees are:

  • Corazon A. Francisco (Australia) – A medical doctor and community leader in Sydney, who assists Filipino doctors in Australia;
  • Agnes Katbeth O. Kreimer (Peru) – A Lima-based Filipina who serves as a Filipino community coordinator in the absence of a Philippine post in Peru, helping Filipino prisoners and human trafficking victims;
  • Dindo B. Malanyaon (Italy) – Founded the iPARAMEDICi association in Rome that provides first aid and emergency transport to sick and wounded overseas Filipinos;
  • Juliet Montano (Taiwan) – A Taipei-based medical doctor who provides accessible and affordable quality medical care services to overseas Filipinos and Filipino-Chinese in Taiwan;
  • Maria Cristina F. Sulaik (Sudan) – A hotel manager based in Khartoum, who assisted the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, in its repatriation of overseas Filipino workers; and
  • Wimler Foundation Hong Kong Ltd. (Hongkong) – A non-profit and charitable organization which promotes the development and empowerment of Filipino migrants in Hongkong and other ethnic communities.




Three Filipino organizations and two individuals were named Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino awardees for exceptional or significant contributions to the reconstruction, progress and development of the Philippines.

Other Lingkod awardees are:

  • Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America Inc. (US) – A non-profit organization of Filipino teachers in New York that fosters unity and collaboration among teachers towards the advancement of the teaching profession;
  • Salvacion G. Cimanez (Netherlands) – An educator based in The Hague, who established a foundation for deaf and blind children;
  • Filipino-American Law Enforcement Officers Association (US) – A San Francisco-based organization comprised of active and retired Filipino-American law enforcement personnel that foster fraternal relationships and cultural awareness among its members;
  • Friends Indeed U.S.A., Inc. (United States) – A non-profit organization in New York, that provided substantial support to calamity-stricken communities and Filipinos suffering from serious physical ailments; and
  • Hilda L. Gigioli (United States) – A Washington-based engineer, a Defense contractor and community leader who has mobilized support for the victims of calamities.




Two Filipino organizations were named as Kaanib ng Bayan Awardees for their 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.

The Kaanib ng Bayan awardees are:

  • Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Singapore) – An organization that advocates for the rights and welfare of migrant domestic workers, including Filipinos; and
  • Stichting LOOP (Netherlands) – An organization run by Dutch volunteers which supports organic and fair trade with farmer cooperatives, communities and small enterprises in the Philippines.




PNews readers were introduced to Paul, four years ago, in past Overview columns.

He’s a native of Paete, Laguna, a town known for its sculptors, painters, musicians and poets.  He resides in Chicago, and works as a ‘mailroom delivery associate,’ but he’s a painter and a sculptor during his off hours.

Paul has distinguished himself as the best designer of the new National Humanities Medal, minted in brass and finished in polished gold plate depicting Lady Liberty, which was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For the first time, July 27, 2014, President Barack Obama bestowed the newly-crafted medals on nine individuals and one organization for outstanding achievements in history, cultural studies, filmmaking, cultural commentary, and historic preservation. The Balan family was there to witness the annual White House ceremony: his wife Marra, and children Micailla (5), and Paolo (3).

One of the judges called the medal Paul designed as “an absolutely beautiful design that is well thought out, composed and stylish.”