New York, November 1, 2012 - Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning theater organization Ma-Yi Theater Company, which originally produced Filipino and Filipino-American plays prior to shifting gears toward exploring more of the Asian-American experience via theatrical workshops and presentations, and Filipino-American set and costume designer Eduardo Sicangco ("Gentlemen Prefer Blondes") accepted "The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York" (TOFA-NY) Heritage Award (2012) and the TOFA-NY Arts and Culture Award (2012) respectively at TOFA-NY's awarding rites held at the Weill Hall, Carnegie Hall Saturday, October 27.
Jorge Ortoll, Ma-Yi Theater Company's executive director since the early '90s, received the award on behalf of his colleagues Ralph Peña, artistic director, and Suzette Porte, associate director.
"We believe it is not only a privilege to receive this award, but also, it is an obligation to strive harder to connect further with our communities, to platform the excellence of our Filipino citizens living in New York City, and to bring more audiences to our stages - for the experience of theater is unique. It is a communal sharing of a stage event with other people, a bonding with people of all ages, races, earning power, gender, and gender preference," Ortoll said in his acceptance speech.
"As we fast approach our 25th anniversary [in 2014], we vow to work harder to bring the arts to our communities, to have our voices heard through the stage, and to strengthen our ties with the vibrant Filipino-American communities, from which we have much to learn," Ortoll added.
In his acceptance speech, Sicangco thanked the TOFA-NY committee, made up of Filipino-American media practitioners Elton Lugay, Grace Hufano-Labaguis, Ronald Labaguis, Myrna de Guia Gutierrez, Rolan Gutierrez, and Cristina Dc Pastor, that took the time to research about his work on the Internet: "I have no idea how you found me - the power of the web I guess. [But] please allow me to say how wonderful it is to be honored for something that I absolutely love doing, which is designing for the stage and screen."
Now in its second year, TOFA-NY recognizes exemplary Filipino-Americans from different fields of practice in the New York Tri-State Area.
Besides Ma-Yi Theater Company, Association of Filipino-American Teachers of America, an organization for Filipino educators advocating for professional growth; Philippine American Chamber of Commerce, an organization promoting trade relations between the Philippines and the United States; Philippine Nurses Association of New York, an organization providing professional guidance to nursing professionals; and San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir of New York, a music ministry serving the communities of St. Lucy and the Filipino pastoral community of Our Lady of Pompeii also received the 2012 TOFA-NY Heritage Awards, the same recognition given to Tony winner Lea Salonga last year.
Along with Sicangco, Edwin Josue (business and entrepreneurship), Yves Nibungco (community service and advocacy), Agnes "Bing" Magtoto (education, research, and technology), Kirby Asunto (entertainment), Danelle Izza Dungca (fashion and style), Anthony and Liza Siopongco (food and restaurant), Jona Jane Tajonera (healthcare), Cecilio Asuncion (LGBT advocacy), Ryan Songalia (media and publishing), Mayor Guillermo Udarbe (public service and politics), and Advancement for Rural Kids, Inc. (youth and sports) were also handed out this year's TOFA-NY Awards.
Broadway's "Les Miserables" stars Adam Jacobs, who also recently appeared as Simba in Disney's "The Lion King," and Ali Ewoldt reunited on stage to perform before a predominantly Filipino-American audience at Carnegie Hall.
FOX TV hit "Glee" former guest star Charice, who was recently seen promoting her movie "Here Comes the Boom," a comedy film starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek, and former contestant in FOX TV's "The Voice" Cheesa Laureta also performed at the sold-out formal event, emceed by Jose Antonio Vargas and Bessie Badilla.
Photos by Troi Santos, Oliver Oliveros, and Robby Manubay
Adam Jacobs, Ali Ewoldt
Adam Jacobs, Ali Ewoldt
Cheesa Laureta, Charice
Jorge Ortoll, Loida Nicolas Lewis, Mario de Leon, Jr.
2012 TOFA-NY Awardees with Adam Jacobs, Ali Ewoldt, Jose Antonio Vargas, and Bessie Badilla
Erno John Hormillosa, Bessie Badilla
Adam Jacobs, Cheesa Laureta, Ali Ewoldt
Robby Manubay, Oliver Oliveros, Stevenson Van Derodar
Miguel Braganza, Gail Banawis, Luis Pedron
Elton Lugay, Christina DC Pastor, Myrna de Guia Gutierrez, Rolan Gutierrez