“The award was first established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government”
The Ramon Magsaysay Awards is Asia’s premier prize and highest honor.
Often referred to as Asia’s nobel prize, the Award, in over six decades, has been bestowed on 344 outstanding individuals and organizations whose selfless service has offered their societies, Asia, and the world successful solutions to some of the most intractable problems of human development.
The award was first established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government.
The Awardees, annually selected by the RMAF board of trustees, are presented with a certificate and a medallion with an embossed image of Ramon Magsaysay facing right in profile.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award was conceived to honor greatness of spirit shown in service to the peoples of Asia—regardless of race, gender, or religion.
According to its official page, from 1958 to 2008, the Award was given in six categories annually: Government Service, to recognize outstanding service in the public interest in any branch of government, including the executive, judicial, legislative, or military;
Public Service, to recognize outstanding service for the public good by a private citizen; Community Leadership, to recognize leadership of a community toward helping the disadvantaged have fuller opportunities and a better life;
Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts, to recognize effective writing, publishing, or photography or the use of radio, television, cinema, or the performing arts as a power for the public good;
Peace and International Understanding, to recognize contributions to the advancement of friendship, tolerance, peace, and solidarity as the foundations for sustainable development within and across countries; and Emergent Leadership, to recognize an individual, 40 years of age or younger, for outstanding work on issues of social change in his or her community, but whose leadership may not yet be broadly recognized outside of this community.
The category of Emergent Leadership was inaugurated in 2000 and is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.
However, since 2009, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is no longer being given in fixed Award categories, except for Emergent Leadership.
For 2022, the four Ramon Magsaysay laureates are:
First, Dr. Sotheara Chhim of Cambodia. Dr. Sotheara has been working in Mental Health since 1998. He was among the first generation of Cambodian psychiatrists to graduate after Cambodia’s Civil War and Khmer Rouge period.
He obtained his MD at the University of Health Science (Phnom Penh) and is a certified psychiatrist from the University of Health Science and Oslo University, Norway.
Dr. Sotheara’s research interests and areas of clinical expertise include post- traumatic stress disorder and cross-cultural psychiatry.
He is the recipient of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice’s Human Rights Award 2012 in recognition of his work and that of his TPO team to address the needs and rights of those suffering from poor mental health in Cambodia.
In 2013, he testified as an expert witness at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), also known as the ‘Khmer Rouge Tribunal.’
He testified on the psychological impact of the various traumatic experiences described by Khmer Rouge survivors he has observed in his work as a clinical psychiatrist and academic researcher.
Second, Tadashi Hattori of Japan. Over the past two decades, Japanese doctor Tadashi Hattori has become a friend to many visually-impaired patients in remote and disadvantaged areas of Vietnam, particularly those in Quang Ninh, Thai Nguyen, Bac Kan, Binh Phuoc and Ca Mau.
A Japanese ophthalmologist Dr. Hattori was named Wednesday one of the four recipients of the 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Awards for his humanitarian work that has helped many people in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries access eye treatment.
He was recognized for his “extraordinary generosity as a person and a professional” and “his skill and compassion in restoring the gift of sight to tens of thousands of people,” the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said.
According to the Foundation, Dr. Hattori showed that “one person can make a difference in helping kindness flourish in the world.”
Third, Bernadette Madrid of the Philippines. A pediatrician, Madrid has led the Philippine General Hospital’s Child Protection Unit (PGH-CPU), said to be the first emergency unit for abused children in the country, for over two decades.
“She has been at the forefront in providing medical, legal, and psychosocial care to children and women who are victims of abuse,” Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation Chairman Aurelio Montinola III said.
“We are honoring her for her admirable commitment in championing the rights of the most vulnerable and for her transformative work in integrating child protection into the health infrastructure in the Philippines,” Montinola III further said.
And, last but not the least, Gary Bencheghib of Indonesia, an anti-plastic pollution warrior. Bencheghib, 27, was given the award for his efforts to clean up Indonesia’s polluted waterways. Bencheghib and his brother have built kayaks made of plastic bottles and bamboo to pick up trash in the Citarum river, one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is presented in formal ceremonies in Manila, Philippines on August 31st, the birth anniversary of the much-esteemed Philippine President whose ideals inspired the Award’s creation in 1957.
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