09/01/2017, 17.15
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Magsaysay Awards, Asia’s Nobel Prize, in the social and cultural fields

This year’s laureates include a theatre association, deemed a “force for social change”, a Filipino official recognised for her work on behalf of millions of Filipinos, and others honoured for their action in favour of displaced people, the needy and indigenous communities.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation announced this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award for outstanding individuals and groups in Asia. The award is regarded as the continent’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

The 2017 prize went to Japan’s Yoshiaki Ishizawa, Abdon Nababan of Indonesia, Gethsie Shanmugam of Sri Lanka, Tony Tay of Singapore, Lilia de Lima and the Philippine Educational Theater Association of the Philippines (PETA). The latter was represented by its president, Cecilia Garrucho.

The ceremony was held yesterday in Manila. Filipino Vice President Leni Robredo presented the award to the laureates, who received a certificate, a medallion bearing the image of Magsaysay, and a cash prize.

Yoshiaki Ishizawa was rewarded for his work in Cambodia to protect Angkor Wat, the country's top cultural monument.

Abdon Nababan was recognised for “his brave, self-sacrificing advocacy to give voice and face to his country’s IP (indigenous) communities”, including the return in 2012 of 57 million hectares of forest land hitherto declared state land.

Gethsie  Shanmugam was chosen by the committee for “her compassion and courage in working under extreme conditions to rebuild [the] war-scarred lives” of displaced adults and children in northern and north-eastern Sri Lanka.

The Foundation recognised Tony Tay’s work through his ‘Willing Hearts’ NGO, which distributes 6,000 hot, packed meals daily to the needy, as well as optical and dental care “So people can better enjoy their food.”

Lilia De Lima was recognised for her "her unstinting, sustained leadership” in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which promotes and regulates foreign investments in the country’s economic zones. Under her stewardship, the agency has had a positive impact for millions of Filipinos as the number of registered enterprises climbed from 331 to 3,756.

Finally, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) received an award because of “its bold, collective contributions in shaping the theater arts as a force for social change”.

Overall, 318 people and organisations have ben honoured with this award since its inception.

The foundation was set up in 1957 in memory of the Philippines’ third president after World War Two, Ramon Magsaysay, who died that year in an plane accident.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”