Myanmar movie star, 4 others win Ramon Magsaysay Awards
MANILA, Philippines – A movie star from Myanmar, two Indians, a Filipina cultural researcher and a Laotian handicrafts promoter were named on Wednesday, July 29, as this year's winners of Asia's Magsaysay Awards.
This year's awardees include celebrated Myanmar movie actor and director Kyaw Thu, 55, who founded a charity in 2001 to provide funeral services for the poor of Yangon.
From there, his Free Funeral Services Society has branched out to a free clinic, a school and charity work for victims of war and natural disasters "irrespective of ethnicity or religion," the Magsaysay foundation said.
Kyaw Thu has used his celebrity status to attract donations while carrying coffins and driving hearses himself to help dispel the stigma in Myanmar against those in burial services.
The Filipina recipient was Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, 72, who was born to a prominent Philippine Catholic family but married a man from Mindanao. She moved to that region where she fell in love with the fading indigenous arts of the local culture.
She received the Magsaysay award for her efforts to preserve the dance arts of Filipino Muslims while deepening their links to other Asian cultures, the organizers said.
For a better Asia
“The Magsaysay awardees of 2015 are truly stoking fresh hopes for a better Asia," said Carmencita Abella, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF).
According to the foundation, the prestigious 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."
The 5 awardees are:
Kommaly Chanthavong (Laos)
She is being recognized for “her fearless, indomitable spirit to revive and develop the ancient Laotian art of silk weaving, creating livelihoods for thousands of poor, war-displaced Laotians, and thus preserving the dignity of women and her nation’s priceless silken cultural treasure.”
Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa (Philippines)
She is being recognized for “her single-minded crusade in preserving the endangered artistic heritage of southern Philippines, and in creatively propagating a dance form that celebrates and deepens the sense of shared cultural identity among Asians.”
Anshu Gupta (India)
He is being recognized for “his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity.”
Kyaw Thu (Myanmar)
He is being recognized for “his generous compassion in addressing the fundamental needs of both the living and the dead in Myanmar – regardless of their class or religion – and his channeling personal fame and privilege to mobilize many others toward serving the greater social good.”
Sanjiv Chaturvedi (India) - Magsaysay Awardee for Emergent Leadership
He is being recognized for “his exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly investigating corruption in public office, and his resolute crafting of program and system improvements to ensure that government honorably serves the people of India.”
The winners will be formally awarded in a ceremony to be held in the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City on August 31, the birth anniversary of former Filipino President Ramon Magsaysay.
They will receive a medallion, certificate, and cash prize. Once awarded, they will join the community of 307 Magsaysay awardees.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award was created in 1957, the year President Magsaysay, one of the Philippines' most beloved leaders, died in a plane crash.
The award is given yearly by the RMAF, an organization formed with an endowment from the Rockefeller brothers, admirers of the late Magsaysay.
To choose the winners, the RMAF calls for nominations which then undergo rigorous evaluation by the RMAF board of trustees.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is committed to “honoring greatness of spirit in selfless service to the peoples of Asia.” – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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