Filipina autism awareness advocate wins first-ever ASEAN Prize

Pia Ranada
Filipina autism awareness advocate wins first-ever ASEAN Prize
Erlinda Uy Koe's achievement has brought 'tremendous pride and great honor' to the Philippines, says Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – Erlinda Uy Koe, a Filipina who has devoted decades of her life to promoting awareness about autism, has won the first-ever Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Prize.

The award was presented to her on Tuesday, November 13, during the opening ceremony of the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Singapore. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long handed Koe the award, with President Rodrigo Duterte witnessing the event from the front row.

The ASEAN Prize is a tribute to an individual or group’s achievements and contributions towards a “rules-based, people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN Community.” Koe bested 49 others for the award, which came with a US$20,000 cash prize.

Koe, a former chairperson of the ASEAN Autism Network, has been widely recognized in the Philippines for her longtime advocacy to promote the welfare of persons with autism.

She was a 3-term president of the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) since 2004 and led some of its most impactful programs, such as “Angels Walk for Autism” and a program where the group taught over 2,500 barangay health and day care centers how to identify and help children with autism.

Malacañang said Koe’s victory brought “tremendous pride and great honor to the country.”

Duterte mentioned Koe in his intervention during the working dinner with ASEAN leaders that followed the opening ceremony. He said the Philippines is “honored” by the conferment of the prize upon Koe. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at