PETA, PH’s Lilia de Lima among 2017 Ramon Magsaysay awardees

Jee Y. Geronimo
PETA, PH’s Lilia de Lima among 2017 Ramon Magsaysay awardees

Alecs Ongcal

To also receive Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize are Yoshiaki Ishizawa (Japan), Abdon Nababan (Indonesia), Gethsie Shanmugam (Sri Lanka), Tony Tay (Singapore)

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Lilia de Lima and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) are among the awardees of the prestigious 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

The 59th batch of awardees was announced Thursday, July 27, by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF).

De Lima, PEZA’s first director general, served the government agency for 21 years, until her retirement in 2016.

“Under Lilia de Lima’s leadership, PEZA enabled the rise of the Philippines as one of the region’s top investment destinations…. During her term, PEZA’s accomplishments have been nothing short of spectacular,” the RMAF said.

De Lima was recognized by the foundation for her “unstinting sustained leadership in building a credible and efficient PEZA, proving that the honest, competent, and dedicated work of public servants can, indeed, redound to real economic benefits to millions of Filipinos.”

Theater group PETA, according to the RMAF, has grown beyond its early traditions as a theater company, and is now an “integrated, people-based cultural collective engaged not only in performance but also in training, curriculum development, national and international network building, and mobilizing communities using a participatory approach that is rooted in local culture and responsive to real issues in the larger society.”

The foundation said it selected PETA for its “bold, collective contributions in shaping theater arts as a force for social change.”

De Lima and theater group PETA are the only awardees from the Philippines.

ASIAN LEADERS TALK. RMAF president Carmencita Abella introduces the 2nd episode of Asian Leaders Talk.

The rest of the 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees are:

Yoshiaki Ishizawa (Japan) is a Japanese scholar who devoted 50 years of his life to help assure that Angkor Wat survives and remains a living monument for Cambodians. He is recognized for “his inspiring leadership in empowering Cambodians to be proud stewards of their heritage.”

Abdon Nababan (Indonesia) is acknowledged as the single most important person in Indonesia’s indigenous people movement. He is recognized for “his brave self-sacrificing advocacy to give voice and face to his country’s IP communities.”

Gethsie Shanmugam (Sri Lanka) trained hundreds of psychosocial practitioners and thousands of teachers, building the capacity of Sri Lanka’s psychosocial sector. She is recognized for “her compassion and courage in working under extreme conditions to rebuild war-scarred lives.”

Tony Tay (Singapore) organized “Willing Hearts,” a fully volunteer-based, non-profit organization that operates 365 days a year, distributing hot, packed meals daily to the needy. He is recognized for “his quiet, abiding dedication to a simple act of kindness – sharing food with others.”


BATCH 59. Former Senator Jun Magsaysay waits for the announcement of the 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees. The award is named after his father, former President Ramon Magsaysay.

The awarding ceremony for the 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Awards will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on August 31, the birth anniversary of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay.

Created in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is given to persons who address issues of human development in Asia “with courage and creativity, and in doing so have made contributions that have transformed their societies for the better.” –

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.