PHII celebrates 29th anniversary honoring 13 exemplary professionals

In celebration of Filipino American History Month, PHII recognizes role models in the fields of medicine, nursing, law and education. Photo by Romy Lara
Photo shows gesture of appreciation for keynote speaker, California State Assemblyman Phillip Chen (55th District), from PHII Senior Executive Advisor Ludy A. Ongkeko, Ph.D., and executive advisor MonchitoMandap. Photo by Romy Lara

“The Philippine Heritage Institute International,” said keynote speaker, Assemblyman Phillip Chen, “has grown to become one of the most prominent organizations in the Asian community, and for over 20 years, it has done great work sharing the Filipino American culture and bringing diverse communities together.”


PHII was nine years old, an established non-profit entity focused on the advancement of Filipino Americans through youth development programs and the promotion of Filipino culture, when then President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary came to Los Angeles in January 1998. They created the White House Millennium Council in August 1997, and were traveling across the country to promote its objectives with the theme: ‘Honor the Past, Imagine the Future.” Their agenda: 21 Ways to Commemorate the Millennium.

The late Naomi Palma-Armada and five other Filipinos were among those invited, along with ‘government dignitaries, Hollywood moguls, celebrities and the mainstream media.’ She selected the Millennium Recognition Awards and reported back to former Senator Hillary Clinton about the first White House Millennium Tribute to the ‘Twenty Outstanding Filipino American Nurses,’ held on October 1999, at LA’s Bonaventure Hotel. (President Jose E. De Jesus was one of the first nurse awardees.)

Naomi chose the nurses “for their hands-on above and beyond compassionate service, volunteerism and their sheer numbers in the Healthcare workplace.”

In 2007, another outgrowth of the Millennium Council was created – the President’s Award: ‘Profiles in Service, Pillars of Community,’ to honor “exemplary community leaders,” according to executive director Anna Lourdes Armada-Chickey, M.D., “whose accomplishments have made them role models, not only to the Filipino American community but mainstream America as well.”

Awardees were selected not only for their academic excellence and professional achievements, but also for their volunteerism.


*Mimi Afable, BSN, RN, is a Clinical Nurse IV, 7 SCCT Medical Intensive Care Unit, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she’s in front line management. She obtained her degree from the University of Maryland in 1981. Her first job was as staff nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at the George Washington University Hospital Center. Her escort was Victoria Iglesias; plaque presenter, Adolfo Famas; and youth witness presenting statuette, Monette Navarro.

(The youth witness of each awardee symbolizes passing on the tradition of civic spirit, responsibility and volunteerism from one generation to the next.)

*Cora Cadavona, BSN, RN, PHN, graduated with honors from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1981. Her first nursing job was at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Los Angeles, in the Oncology Dept. She started the Mommy and Me program at the Chino Community Hospital and has been a home health and hospice consultant for more than 25 years.  Her escort and youth witness was Brent Cadavona; presenter, Amelia Carpio, RN.

*Lerma Estudillo, BSN, RN, is a graduate of the UE Ramon Magsaysay Memorial College of Nursing, starting her career in Healthcare in Richmond, VA in 1982, and later in the Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina. She’s CEO of the Onoria Health Care Provider, Inc., Cinta Hospice Care, Inc. and Aloria Hospice Care. Her escorts and youth witnesses were sons Allan and Patrick Estudillo, both nurses; presenter, Amelia Carpio, RN.

*Roselyn Jones, BSN, RN, is staff nurse/relief charge nurse in a Telemetry Unit at the Phoenix Veterans Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz. An alumna of the University of the City of Manila, she placed ‘top 4’ when she took the licensure examination in the Philippines. She began her nursing career at the Navajo Indian Reservation in 1978. Her escort was Paul Jones; presenters, Vicky De Leon and Susana De Guzman; and youth witnesses, Candice DePippo and Clay Jones.

*Jessie Jurado, BSN, RN, is a nurse supervisor at the Anaheim and Cabrillo Community-based Outpatient Clinic, VA Long Beach Healthcare System. A nurse since 1991, she obtained her Associate degree in Nursing from Cypress College, and BSN from the University of Phoenix, both with honors and scholarships. She’s an Executive Board member of the Philippine Nurses Association. Her escort was Joey Jurado; presenter, Lillibeth Cruz, and youth witness, Cecilia Jurado Beltran.

*Marie Florentina Lucina-Navarro, MSN, RN, is a Clinical Nurse III, 5 SCCT Trauma/Transplant Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She graduated from Saint Louis University, Baguio City in 1987, and started her nursing career at the Philippine Heart Center as a Cardiovascular Thoracic Operating Room nurse. She’s an active parent volunteer of the Moreno Valley Troop 210 Boy Scouts of America. Her escort and youth witness was Rene Navarro; presenter, Josie De Jesus.

*Danilo Tejada, BSN, RN, retired as a Registered Nurse II from LA County Sheriff’s Dept., Medical Services Bureau; and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept. as a Jail/Correctional Nurse for over 25 years. He graduated from St. Anne’s School of Nursing in 1978. He’s currently the president of the Association of Mangatarem Overseas Residents of Southern California. His escort: Nora M. Tejada; presenter, Cheody Fortunato; youth witnesses, Sheila M. Tejada and Daniel M. Tejada.

*May Victoria Torallba, BSN, RN, started in the Neonatal ICU of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles, and later worked in the ambulatory Unit of Kaiser Permanente Pasadena Medical Offices. She was Module RN Lead in different units. After 42 years, she retired; but after only ten months, she came back as volunteer at the Kaiser’s Medical Offices in Pasadena. Her escort was Kristen M. Torralba; presenter, LeniBigornia; and youth witness, Nathali Nicolas-Tavera, RN.

*Josephine Ulgado, BSN, RN, is an alumna of the University of Santo Tomas. Her specialty is Emergency and Critical Care Nursing. She has a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from La Verne University. For the past 24 years she has worked as a quality healthcare consultant at Aetna Health. A cancer survivor, her life-long dream is to be a ‘modern-day Florence Nightingale.’ Her escort was Rick Mayhew; presenter, Freya Nishimura; and youth witness, Ken Bustamente.

*Julie Salva Cruz Villalon, BSN, RN, is a Senior Team Lead RN/Charge Nurse in the Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. She graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in 1975, came to the United States in 1977, and worked as a Registered Nurse in ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ where she got her license. Her escort was Art Villalon; presenter, Lillibeth Cruz; and youth witnesses, Andre and Vincent Villalon.


*Edmund Anciano, Esq., graduated with honors from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA, majoring in International Relations, minor in Communications and Concentration in Latin American Studies. He worked for the Asian Pacific American Law Center in Los Angeles, a public interest law firm dedicated to immigrant rights and civil rights, before opening his practice in 1998. His escort was Joy Anciano; presenters, Zachary and Ethan Anciano; youth witnesses, Armin Reyes, Phillip Kirihara and Joe Watts.

*Meynardo ‘Peddy’ J. Ascio, Doctor of Dental Medicine, graduated from Far Eastern University in 1968, practicing his profession until he left for the United States in 1978, when he veered toward a different path – educating physicians and other medication-prescribing professionals on new developments in the advancing pharmaceutical industry – as Bayer Pharmaceutical Representative where he worked for 22 years. His escort was Linda AlineaAscio; presenter, Josie De Jesus; and youth witness, Magdalen Ascio Bloomer.

*Ray De Leon, Ph.D., Professor of Kinesiology in the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services; also Director of the School of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science,  California State University, Los Angeles. He has been awarded grants worth over $4.2 million, supporting 89 Cal State LA students in research projects. His escort was Dr. Christine Navarro De Leon; presenters, Vicky De Leon and Sonny De Leon; and youth witness, David De Leon.