SGT. RONALD BONGAT
Most Outstanding Asian American
in Police Empowerment
An offspring of First-generation immigrant parents from the Philippines (Romeo and Cyril Bongat, deceased), Ronald Bongat grew up in the west side of Chicago. After graduating high school from Lane Tech High School in 1987, he enlisted into the US Navy where he reached the rank of 2nd Class Petty Oficer. During his enlistment in the Navy, he was deployed for Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
It was because of this campaign that he was awarded the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal, among other commendations. Shortly after his tour in the Navy, he became a police oficer with the Oak Park Police Department, where he is currently assigned to the Investigations Unit as a detective.
He is a state certified law enforcement instructor and the department’s Range Master. From 2002 – 2010, he was a team member on the department’s SWAT Team. He is also an investigator for the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. He has received numerous a w a r d s / c o m m e n d a t i o n s f o r o n – d u t y accomplishments.
Bongat is the current president of the Asian American Law Enforcement Association. Because of his involvement with the Asian c o m m u n i t y, h e wa s g ive n a L i f e T i m e Achievement Award from IL Governor Rauner and the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
He has been a keynote speaker for several events hosted by the governor and the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas have given him Appreciation Awards for his contributions.
His deceased father, Romeo Bongat, was past president of Filipino American Council of Chicago (FACC), Bikol USA, and the Bayanihan Lions Club. He has two children, Christopher and Matthew Bongat, who are both in their thirties. (Nominator: Maria Odiamar Racho)
PROF. ROBERT BOYER
Friend of Filipino
Ro b e r t H . ( B o b ) B oye r, E m e r i t u s Professor of English, St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin Professor Boyer enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and teaching. For most of his career he has been able to combine all four activities, with his greatest love being teaching. From the time Bob was a freshman at La Salle High School in his hometown of Philadelphia, he decided that he wanted to be a teacher. He has never looked back since then. He retired from full-time teaching in 2005, after forty-four years: four years in high school, three years in universities as a graduate teaching assistant, and the last thirty-six years teaching English at St. Norbert College in Northeastern Wisconsin. He still enjoys teaching occasionally, most recently in the Lifelong Learning Program at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. The teaching afforded opportunities for travel, research, and exploration. Professor Boyer has taught in Canton, Ohio, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in Phoenix, Arizona, in Philadelphia, and in Northeastern Wisconsin. Bob was fortunate to earn a fellowship to study at Oxford University in England, with his wife and four children along. Later on, courses that he taught, or research that he did, took him to Nicaragua (during their civil war), to El Salvador (just after their civil war), twice to Spain, and six times to the Philippines. He spent two sabbatical semesters in Spain, and he was a Visiting Professor at the University of the Philippines in Manila, for a memorable semester. Friends have been referring to him of late as “an adventurer.” His research, travel, and explorations resulted in a number of books spanning about forty years, complementing Professor Boyer’s teaching. Prior to THE MAGIC NECKLACE OF ALANDALUS, his most recent book was SUNDAYS IN MANILA (2012), a travel memoir based on his experiences in the Philippines. That country and the many friends and acquaintances he has met there keep drawing him back. He also writes a monthly column for “VIA TIMES Newsmagazine,” a Philippine-American publication out of Chicago. You can ind him, including a recent picture, on their web site (www.viatimes.com). All of his earlier books are edited collections of Fantasy Literature or are about Fantasy Literature and the people who write it. THE MAGIC NECKLACE OF AL-ANDALUS, published in July, 2017, is his irst original work of iction. It is a Historical Fantasy Novel set primarily in medieval Spain during the Arab Ascendency that reached its zenith there from the 10th through the 12th Centuries. (Nominator: Veronica Leighton)
DAVID & JANE CANNON
Dionalane M. Cannon, known to her family and friends as “Jane” is the founder and president of JDC Rainbow Foundation from 2012 to 2018. Her husband, David Cannon and daughter, Cherie Sajul are her cofounders. Its mission is to help communities in the Philippines in improving the lives of its people, especially underprivileged children. Jane was born on May 3, 1945 in Iloilo City, Philippines to Dionisio H. Motong, Vocational School Superintendent and Elena Gayapa, High School Principal (both deceased). She has one sister, Josephine Cruz, retired Teacher and one brother, Jonathan Motong, Retired Radio Communications Engineer. She is a mother of ive children, namely Moonyen Uy, disabled; Chingin Santos, Bachelor in Computer Data Processing Management, Instructor II/Administrative Assistant, College of Education, EARIST, Manila; Cherie Sajul, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Nurse Clinician II, Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge; Catherine Ng, Bachelor of Science in Education, Teacher II, Dr. Juan G. Nolasco High School, Manila; Nathaniel Uy, Associate in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Purchaser, Siomai House, Caloocan City. Jane is also a grandmother to eleven grandchildren, three of whom are graduates, Cassandra Nicole Santos, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Staff Nurse, MCU Hospital; Kym Sydney Santos, Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Resort’s World, Manila, and Sydie Santos, Bachelor of Science in Tourism, Air Asia Airlines, Pasay City. The other eight are still in school. Her daughters, Chingin and Catherine, son, Nathaniel and granddaughter, Cassandra Nicole are JDCRF Coordinators in the Philippines. They are very much involved in visiting, helping and gift giving activities to the needy children in the shelter home, study and health centers. Even her younger grandchildren enjoy helping too. Jane was consistently an honor student. She was a High School Salutatorian at the University of Manila and received scholarships to study Medical Technology at Far Eastern University. She worked for more than 23 years in various government schools/ofices as Clerk, Disbursing Oficer, Bookkeeper, Chief, Finance/Admin and Chief Cashier before she migrated to the United States in 1994. Since then she has worked in various health care industries like nursing homes, assisted living, private homes until her full retirement in January 2014 from Lutheran General Hospital. Jane and David have been active in the fundraising events in the Filipino American community and just recently they were recipients of 2017 Golden Life Achievement Award from Chicago Philippine Lions Club, the 2017 Humanitarian Couple Award from Asian Chronicle USA and the Chicago Filipino American Lions Club Humanitarian Service Award in 2018. Because of Jane’s love for dancing, socializing and supporting community fundraising events, she thought of organizing a foundation that could help Filipinos back home, especially children, hence the JDC Rainbow Foundation was born December 2012. The JDCRF is a nonproit organization incorporated in the State of Illinois and registered as a public charity with the Illinois Attorney General. In 2014, the Foundation was granted tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Likewise, the Illinois Department of Revenue has granted tax exemption status to the foundation. It is also registered with the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago as a bona ide Filipino organization.. Jane could have not done much without the cooperation and full support of her husband, David Cannon, who is employed at Canon Solutions America as Critical Parts Specialist. He patiently researched, analyzed and illed out the necessary documents to start JDC Rainbow Foundation in 2012. Lastly, Jane and David would like to share their award to all oficers, members, friends and supporters of JDC Rainbow Foundation. Its charitable mission could have not been accomplished without their help and continued support. (Nominator: Veronica Leighton)
ELENA DE JESUS
Excellence in Nursing Leadership
The oldest of eleven children, 8 girls and 3 boys, Elena Catalan de Jesus, hails from Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines. She attributes both elementary and high school education and the experiences gained during her formative years for shaping her ideas which motivated her to do more and strive more for her family and the community she serves. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) in 1976 from San Juan De Dios College of Nursing in Metro-Manila, Philippines after graduating with a Nursing Diploma degree from the same school in 1974. Shortly after that, she migrated to the US, having accepted a job offer from Methodist Hospital in Gary, Indiana to work in their Emergency Room. After inishing her contract with Methodist Hospitals, she went on to join the Cardiovascular Unit of St. Anthony Medical Center (SAMC) in Crown Point, Indiana where she honed her skills as a CV RN for 24 years. Working in other facilities after SAMC, she worked in various capacities as staff RN, Shift Charge RN and Primary Nurse. She had been in Nursing Management for the past 15 years. She is currently back at Methodist Hospitals – Northlake campus (formerly Gary) working in Case Management. One of her proudest achievements is when she became a member of the CV Team that traveled from Northwest Indiana to Cebu City, Philippines to set up the very irst Cardiovascular Unit at Cebu Doctors Hospital including lecturing and training the nursing staff. This program made it possible for this hospital to offer CV services locally and opened up possibilities to giving these services to less fortunate patients who , otherwise, would not have any means of receiving them due to lack of resources. Elena is a proud member of the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA) a professional nursing organization in the US comprised of 50 local chapters all across the nation. Elena became a member in 2000, after attending its National convention that year held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Captivated by the almost all Filipino American line up of speakers, she joined the Philippine Nurses Association Indiana chapter becoming its President in 2010. She founded the Philippine Nurses Association of Northwest Indiana (PNA NWIN) in 2013 and became its founding President from 2013-2016. As a chapter President, Elena was selected by colleagues to be the Circle of Presidents Regional Representative (COPRR) twice in 2010-2011 and 2014-2015. This paved the way to her election in 2016 as the Regional Vice President (RVP) of the North Central Region (NCR) and served in such position during the 2016-2018 term. As PNAA’S NCR RVP she headed the NCR Executive Board comprised of the Circle of Presidents from the ten (10) chapters of the Midwestern part of the country which includes Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Illinois. As RVP, she participated as an ex-oficio member of most of the standing committees including the Human Rights Committee and the Writers and Contributors committee for the Legacy book, titled, “PNAA: A Tapestry” – A Historical analysis of the Philippine Nurses Association of America as a professional nursing organization in the United States. She is currently the chair of the Bylaws and Constitution Committee and continues to feel blessed and privileged to be able to serve this current term. In the local scene, Elena is an active member of the Philippine Professionals Association (PPA) of Northwest Indiana having served as Vice President and its Social Committee Chair for the past 3 terms. This November during its Annual Fundraising Gala event, she will be inducted as President Elect. She also serves as the Executive Director of the PNA Northwest Indiana (PNA NWIN) and served in the Circle of Red, American Heart Association’s Go Red Campaign this past year. On a personal note, Elena resides in the Lakes of the Four Seasons , Crown Point, Indiana with her husband, Tito of forty (40) years. Together, they have two (2) children, Melissa Joy and Roderick Renato. Her children are the loves of her life and owes both of them for the inspiration and the motivation to continue to serve. (Nominator: Richie Gil)
Entertainer of the Year
Aptly labeled by her throng of fans as “Nightingale with a Magnetic Voice,” Marilou D i c h o s a’ s s i n g i n g v o i c e m a g n e t i z e s , mesmerizes, and enchants anyone who hears her sing. Proud parents Myrna and Liberato Dichosa of General Santos City, South Cotabato, Philippines, guided and encouraged Marilou since the early age of four to make use of her God-given talent by encouraging her to participate in many children’s singing competitions around town, with Marilou always bringing home the bacon as the winner. By her teen years, this rising star had started winning many local and national singing championships, to the extent of having been proclaimed “Bagong Kampeon” in 1981 in the big city of General Santos. Marilou’s move to Chicago as an immigrant in the 1980’s created so much awe and excitement in the whole community of Fil- Ams in Chicago when this fresh-faced beauty with ultra-powerful voice started entertaining many music aicionados at some well-known club establishments and popular spots, like Tipanan, D’Manilans, Little Quiapo, Resto Pinoy, including appearances in many private parties, such as, birthdays, anniversaries, and other memorable occasions, belting out popular songs in Filipino dialects and in English. She has been featured in quite a number of local concerts that spotlighted local, national and international talents, the latest one of which is “The Best of 70’s Musical” that starred Ms. Chaz Patron. The feathers in her cap as far as U.S. singing competitions are concerned are the following: Champion of Chicago Star Quest, irst runner-up of Hollywood, CA Star Quest, and second-prize winner of $2,000 sponsored by Seafood City Chicago in 2017. Humble and unaffected with her naturally sweet ways, Marilou feels so proud, delighted and elated to be included and inducted into the 2018 batch of Hall of Famers of the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame for the most coveted “Entertainer of the Year” award. She is happily blessed with two children, Mercy, a nurse, and Michael, a supervisor at Whole Foods. (Nominator: Chaz Patron)
ATTY. WILMA T. EISMA
International Award in Public Service
Atty. Wilma “Amy” T. Eisma is a seasoned lawyer with over 23 years of experience in both government service and the private sector. Prior to her appointment as SBMA administrator and chief executive oficer, she was the corporate, government and regulatory affairs, community and farmer relations, and diversity and inclusion manager of the Philippine afiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI), PMFTC, Inc. and Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc. (PMPMI) for 15 years. Her close and smooth work with the local leaf supply chain of PMI resulted to internationallyacclaimed farmer programs, best practice systems, and leading innovations in agriculture labor relations, communication programs, and government relation strategies in the supply chain setting. She successfully managed over three million dollars in contributions and community relations and farmer relations budget annually. She also handled and coordinated with NGO and government partners in the implementation of PMI projects. Moreover, she provided direction, supervision, and management of the company’s public affairs and contribution programs, the majority of which received various international awa rd s i n t h e i e l d o f C o r p o ra te S o c i a l Re s p o n s i b i l i t y ( CS R ) . H e r k n owl e d g e i n government processes, culture, and engagement brought about the enactment of the Philippine Tobacco Regulatory Act of 2003 and the Amendment to the Excise Law in 2005 and 2012. In 2005, as Manager for Government Relations, she received the PMI President’s Award. Her work also earned her the PMI Excellence Award in 2003, 2007, and 2011. She was recognized in 2009 as an awardee of the PMI Best Contribution Program, and in 2010, the PMI Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award. Atty. Eisma is much at home in the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. As a young lawyer, she started her career as the Executive Assistant to the Chairman and member of the Legal Department during the Agency’s early years (1993 to 1998). During her tenure, she assisted in the eficient administration and supervision of SBMA, including policy-making and issues and crisis management. She was a member of the Agency team that successfully negotiated the World Bank’s assistance, as well as the entry/investment of Federal Express and various international and local investors, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs. Furthermore, she represented SBMA in local judicial courts and oversaw the SBMA Housing Department. Before joining the private sector, she continued her public career as Head Executive Assistant and Legal Counsel to the House of Representative’s Majority Floor Leader from 1998 to 2000, and thereafter, as Chief of Staff of the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry for a year. A member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Atty. Eisma holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence, Ateneo De Manila University, College of Law. She was also a member of the Philippine Delegation, 1989 UNIV Forum in Rome, Italy. (Nominator: Joe Mauricio)
MAYOR RON FALCONI
Excellence in Public Service
Ron Falconi began his term as Mayor of Brunswick in 2014 and was re-elected to a second term in 2017. Before he became mayor, he was appointed to a Brunswick Council at Large seat in 2008 among a group of 14 applicants. Fa l c o n i w a s b o r n a n d r a i s e d i n northeastern Ohio as a son of Filipino immigrants who came to this country in the 1960’s. He received his diploma from Padua Franciscan High School. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree from John Carroll University, where he majored in political science with a concentration in international studies. Subsequently, he received his law degree from the University of Akron, and he has a license to practice law. He is the irst Filipino-American mayor in the State of Ohio. He was most recently picked as one of ten Asian American Leaders from across the entire country to travel to Japan as a guest of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss polit ics, cult ure, b usiness a nd international relations. He has been active in the community. He was a former member of the Brunswick Board of Zoning Appeals and served on that board from 2004 to 2007. Falconi is also active at St. Ambrose Church, where he is a lector and is also a former bingo team volunteer. He also served as the government liaison oficer for his Homeowners Association. He currently serves as a Guardian ad Litem in both Medina and Cuyahoga Counties in Ohio During his time on city council, he had served at one time or another on the following committees: · Economic Development (Chair) · Planning and Zoning (Chair) · Safety Committee · Finance Committee · Building and Building Code Ron married his wife, Dr. Geny Falconi, in 1998 and they have two beautiful kids, Joey and Angela. (Nominator: Consul General Gene Calonge)
Community & Nursing Services
Geraldine Gaden was born in Tumauini, Isabela. The youngest daughter of the late Mateo Baccay Taguba and Josefa Malana Taguba, she is married to Wayne Steven Gaden and blessed with two beautiful children, Laura and Brian Nino Matthew. She graduated high school with honors, obtaining a nursing degree from De Ocampo College of Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Arellano University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Geraldine has worked as a nurse in various hospitals in Chicago and the suburbs and has clinical nursing expertise in Coronary and Intensive Care. She currently manages Rainbow Home Health Care Services as the administrator and clinical supervisor, simultaneously holding a position for four years in the Association of Certiied Home Health of Illinois and the Philippine Nurses of Illinois as a board member. She is currently a cochair for the Social and Ways and Means C o m m i t te e fo r t h e P h i l i p p i n e N u r s e s Association of America. She believes in giving back to the community, frequently hosting charity and community events. In 2017, she was crowned Mrs. Philippines of Philippine Independence Week Committee, one of the oldest Filipino organizations in Chicago that commemorate the Philippine Independence every June 12th. In 2018, she graduated from modeling school Model Talent Management Agency, modeled for various local designers in Illinois, including Designer Victor Miller. She worked with Miller in April of 2018 to produce the “Fashion in Fashion” spring fashion line. Currently, she is actively involved in the Chicago Fillipino American Lions Club (CFAL), and an active member of various religious organizations. She is a coordinator at the Simbang Gabi western cluster at St. Margaret Mary Church in Naperville, and an active member of the Friends of the Lord Charismatic Group of Downers Grove. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling both locally and internationally, and spending quality time with friends, family, and her dog, Bentley. She has a strong belief in her faith and that things always happen for a reason. (Nominator: Remedios dela Cruz, R.N.)
GERALDINE GUIDOTE HERNANDEZ
Young Achiever in Entrepreneurship
Geraldine Guidote Hernandez founded Butter Bella LLC, a gourmet cookie company, in February of 2006. Today, her cookies can be found in 29 stores in the Chicagoland area, 6 states and 12 cities across the U.S. In 2015, she founded Be Good Baking Company, developing a healthy granola until she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in June. During chemotherapy treatments, she and her sister Jenny developed an empanada concept which we know today as Savory Crust Gourmet Empanadas in Morton Grove, IL. In addition to opening up a restaurant in January of 2017, Geri founded Honor Global Partners, a retained search irm, focusing on hard-to-ill positions for the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to being a serial entrepreneur in the food and healthcare sector, she’s led a successful career in sales and recruitment for the last 20 years across several industries from technology to inance and has sharpened her diverse business acumen at some of the largest companies, such as, Reed-Elsevier, Bank of America, AON Hewitt, and now 7-Eleven. Geri has a penchant for developing products she’s passionate about and bring them to market. Her networking, sales and marketing skills have allowed her the opportunity to develop and grow several start-ups. With a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology, Geri brings her listening and intuitive sales skills to table to make start-ups thrive. She utilizes her entrepreneurial skills to expand a start-up’s client base rapidly and ramp up operations in a short period of time. Geri lives in Chicago and is a proud mother of three vivacious and loving daughters, Justine, Jacey and Joselle. (Nominator: Maria Odiamar Racho)
Friend of the Filipino
in Public Service
Jerry Joyce is a Chicago South Side native whose personal and professional commitment to his community has led Jerry to run for Mayor of Chicago. In his youth, Jerry attended St. Cajetan Elementary School then Marist High School before attending Yale University, where he played varsity football and captained the varsity wresting team. While at Yale, Jerry met his wife, Jannine, who also attended Yale. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science, Jerry went on to earn his Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. After graduating from law school, Jerry worked on the executive staff of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Ofice. Among the initiatives on which he worked while there was the State’s Attorney’s Youth program (STAY), assisting legendary coach Gene Sullivan to help keep kinds away from guns, drugs and gangs. After leaving the State’s Attorney’s ofice, Jerry practiced law at a Chicago litigation irm before opening his own legal consulting irm. J e r r y p r i o r i t i z e s c o m m u n i t y involvement. He initiated a neighborhood watch program and was an active volunteer. He has served on various local neighborhood and charitable committees, founded a youth wrestling program, and currently coaches youth wrestling and football. He coached football at his alma mater, Marist, and remains active in the Marist mentoring program and is a former member of the Marist Board. Jerry has been inducted into the Marist Hall of Fame and most recently received the prestigious Marist Time and Eternity Award. Among his proudest achievements, Jerry founded the annual Tom Walsh Memorial Wrestling Tournament and Scholarship Fund, in honor of his former coach, dear friend and retired Chicago police oficer Tom Walsh. He is a member of Father Perez Knights of Columbus, and has also been involved with Vision Health International, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, Misericordia, South Suburban PADS, and Feed My Starving Children. Jerry and Jannine, who is a pediatrician, and their four children, Jeremiah, Karina, Christian and Keyli live on the Southwest Side of Chicago in the Beverly neighborhood. In addition to attending Christian’s football games, Keyli’s dance recitals, the Joyces keep busy with Jeremiah and Karina’s current college search. (Nominator: Joy Rodriguez)
ATTY. WINNALYNN KANTARIS
Excellence in Law
Winnalynn (“Winnie”) Nacu Kantaris is a banking and inance attorney who has worked at law irms, banks, and inancial companies for over 15 years. Currently, she is Director and Associate General Counsel for Cortland Capital Market Services LLC. She and her team are responsible for the legal issues across the company’s business lines such as corporate, trust, agency, loan servicing, securitization and fund administration services. In addition, the team is involved in human resource, procurement, contract, licensing, bankruptcy and litigation issues. Prior to joining Cortland, Winnie worked at two of the largest and most prestigious irms in the country, Mayer Brown, LLP and Arnold Porter, LLP (f/k/a Kaye Scholer, LLP). In addition, she was a senior attorney at a boutique irm, McCoy & Orta, PC where she as the sole attorney in Chicago. At these irms, she represented inancial institutions, trustees, issuers, agents, and investors in a variety of securitization, real estate, restructuring, banking, and corporate matters. Prior to joining the irms, she worked at Bank of America negotiating securitization agreements and commercial mortgage loan documents. Winnie is currently President of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (“FALA”), a group she helped reboot in 2012. Under her leadership, FALA became a licensed Continuing Legal Education provider, achieved record fund raising amounts, participated in voter registration drives, awarded multiple law student scholarships, and it continues to partner with other bar organizations to raise awareness about immigration and hate-crime issues. In May of 2018, FALA, along with AIFRE, trained its members and together opened the irst legal clinic dedicated to the Filipino Community in the Midwest. In previous years, she raised money to purchase Medals of Honor to Filipino World War II Veterans, hosted SEC Chairman from the Philippines to meet with Filipino business leaders and raised money for Typhoon Haiyan victims. Her next goal is to create a foundation dedicated to raising scholarship money for students who want to attend law school. In addition, Winnie is a founding member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (“NFALA”) and served as the organization’s irst Central Regional Governor. She was also a delegate to NFALA’s mid-year leadership conference for the past two years. Currently, Winnie oversees the planning and spearheads this year’s annual NFALA conference in Chicago. She is also the Women’s Leadership Network Ambassador and Real Estate Case Study Chair for the National Asian Paciic American Bar Association (“NAPABA”). Winnie received her BS, JD, and an LLM in business law and corporate governance from Loyola University Chicago and is an active alumna. While in law school, she was regional champion and national semi-inalist at the Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition, held annually at the NAPABA conference. She was also awarded a federal judicial clerkship from the American Bar Association. As an active alumna of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, she was nominated and elected to sit on the Alumni Board of Governors and invited to sit on the Dean’s Diversity Council. She also serves as a judge for local and national moot court competitions. She is a regular speaker for the law school, primarily for the “Greenhorn Legal Practical Skills Bootcamp” course, a course targeted towards graduating students to assist them in the transition to the practice of law. She (with her husband, Paul) also counsels and speaks at the “Staying Best Friends” panel, a group to help married/coupled students stay together during the dificult years of law school. She spends any other free time mentoring students and other young attorneys. In recognition of her dedication to the law school, she was named the St. Bellarmine awardee in 2017 form the Alumni Association, which honors alumni who have been in practice for 15 years or less and who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to the profession and to the School of Law. The Asian Paciic American Law Student Association also presented her with the Distinguished Alumni award that same year. Of all her accomplishments, she is most proud of her two children, Lilia and Dean. Lilia, who is in a gifted program at one of Chicago’s schools and Dean who recently started pre-school, are the light of her life. (Nominator: Atty. Janice Dantes)
Leadership in Religion
and Community Service
Gloria Espinoza Key always says to her friends who often wonder where she gets all the energy in doing all of these good works that her inspiration comes from Mother Theresa of Calcutta and the words of wisdom that “where there is God, there is Love”. That is why she lives to be an example of this by bringing more love in her own simple way. Then, she can contribute to make our place — any place — a better place to live in. Being an educator and a health care advocate, she devotes her time to various socio-civic and religious activities. She has the passion in involving herself in the service of the Lord with the end in view of involving others to be instruments of God’s Love. She leads the Divine Mercy Crusade in the Enthronement of the Image of the Divine Mercy. Gloria has shown her devotion and commitment to the Catholic Church by being one of the lay leaders performing diverse pastoral activities. She often served as leader, organizer and motivator of various church groups. She has served as the President for the Divine Mercy Crusade of Illinois doing Home Enthronement since 2010. She was the former President of the Divine Mercy Community (DMC) from 2011 to 2013. She was also a member of Saturday Devotee Society of the Beloved Disciples. From 2014 to present, she has been President of Divine Mercy Crusade. Moreover,during weekends, she was often seen busy in spiritual matters, for example, serving as Eucharistic Minister at St. Matthias Church, the Parish where she belonged. Together with the members of the Divine Mercy Crusade, they served as congregants on certain Sunday masses assigned to them and aired on WGN channel 9 by Mercy Home for boys and girls. Her socio-civic engagements include participation in USA Ladies for Rizal as a board member, Chicago Jose Rizal Lions Club as treasurer. Gloria got involved not only in philanthropic projects of JDC Rainbow Foundation and AGAPE Foundation, (USA & Philippines), but inancial wellness as well, being a licensed Producer (Insurance Agent) herself. With her effective help in the annual fundraising event of the Pilipino American Social Services (PASS) she became Calendar Mom in 2011 and Calendar Grand Mom in 2014. Her tireless endeavours earned her numerous awards and recognitions. The latest one in August 10, 2018 was a trophy as President of the Divine Mercy by the JDCRainbow Foundation on its 5th Anniversary Celebration. Previous years saw Gloria receiving more awards, to name a few, Golden Life Achievement Award by the Pilipino American Social Services, Recognition as Outstanding and Exemplary Caregiver by Zamboanga del N o r t e A s s o c i a t i o n o f I l l i n o i s ( Z A M NA I ) . PAS S Humanitarian Golden Heart Award in 2016, and a Plaque of Recognition awarded by the Beloved Disciples of Jesus Christ for active involvement in the annual Sto Nino de Agosto celebration also in 2016. Just to name a few. On top of this, Gloria was among the volunteers and oficers of Filipinos for Immigrants Rights & Employments (AFIRE) who, without stop, successfully lobbies policymakers in Springield, IL to enact the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The new law that was made effective last January 2017, gives all caregivers, nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers the same employment protections as workers in other industries by amending four state laws that previously excluded them. Back in the Philippines, as the President of the Surigao del Sur Public School Teacher Association (SSPSTA), she introduced the mortuary fund assistance to teachers. She was also one of the recipients of the Diploma of Service by the Philippine National Red Cross, for her unlinching social involvement in emergency and disasterrelated activities. The Ofice of the Presidential Assistant for Poverty Alleviation (OPAPA) under the Presidency of President Fidel V. Ramos designated Gloria as a special coordinator for Women Sector of Surigao del Sur province. She is blessed with ive children who are all successful in their chosen careers. Equally, Gloria’s ten grandchildren have given her so much joy in life. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from St. Theresa’s College, Cebu City and Master’s degree in Educational Management from University of Southern Philippines. (Nominator: Angie Francisco)
Excellence in Nursing/HomeHealth
GINGinalene Lopez embodies beauty, intelligence, grace, and talent. She’s a nurse by profession, business woman, a community volunteer, beauty queen, fashion model, multi-awarded, loving wife and devoted mom. Calm, conident, and well,poised, this Scorpion woman is outspoken but mindful and respectful of other people’s feelings. She is the eldest of three children, born in Pasay City to Tito and Thelma Castanos. Both siblings currently live in Alberta, Canada. She is married to Oscar Lopez, a handsome Mexican born, licensed practical nurse, businessman, and parttime model. They were blessed with their 7-yearnd old son, Dylan Gabriel, who is currently in 2 grade. Gin is the President and owner of DGL Express Delivery, currently manages and is the Administrator/Part Owner of All Wellness Home Health Care. She used to work as a case manager of Active Home Health and Modell Home and Preferred since 1994. After being crowned as Mrs. Philippines in PIWC in 2005, she gained a great degree of social prominence. She has been involved in many charity events and became Calendar Mom (Phil. Assoc. of Social Services in 2015, Ms. PNAI (Phil. Nurses Association of Illinois in 2005), Ms. NOH (National Orthopedic Hospital in 2005), Ms. Hope 2005 (Hosted by Scalabrini Sisters). She was recognized for helping to raise funds for the nuns projects, along with raising funds to provide hospital vans in the Philippines with NOH. As a Calendar Mom for PASS, she was involved in fundraising for seniors which opened more doors for community fundraisers through pageants and fashion shows. In 2005, she was with PNAI (Philippine Nurses Assoc. of Illinois) and served as a board member and chairman of By-laws and Scholarships Programs, attended national conventions for mentoring and leadership training and national programs for Filipino Nurses. As a fashion model, she was constantly invited to model for prominent local designers, such as Elba Torre and Mar Lapena. In May 2017, she was featured in ESTILO, which showcased a collection of several Filipino designers. She also participated in KULTURA Fashion show by Chicago Nightingales and was featured in ABC7 in celebration of Philippine Independence Week. She was also involved in a fashion show for Asian Ministry Group in June 2018. She was part of St. Maria Goretti School’s fundraising event for the beneit of its students diagnosed with leukemia. She also volunteered her time in Simbang Gabi and was a member of Friends of the Lord Prayer Group in Darien. Last December 2017, she was involved in fundraising for Chicago Eagles Lion’s Club and supported their projects. As a business owner, she has sponsored 12 individuals on separate occasions for residency and employment in U.S. and Canada. In 2006, she was awarded the American Tango Dancing Queen by Redhot Dance Club. In January 2010, she was an awardee for Outstanding Healthcare Entrepreneur by Laguna Association of the Midwest. In October 2011, she was a Nurse Excellence Finalist for Nursing Entrepreneurship presented by PNAI. This year, on April 20, 2018, she is the irst Filipina to receive a Bishop Claude Porter recognition for community service. In , addition, on August 11, 2018, she received the Prism Award for Women of Style at the Gintong Pamana Awards. (Nominator: Fr. Carlos Llagas & Carlota Domantay
JENNIFER ROAN, CPA
Jennifer Santos Roan, CPA, is one of the Founding Partners of Adelia LLC. Adelia LLC is a minority and women owned business enterprise that provides assurance, advisory, accounting, tax, and information technology review/audit services. Since 11/11/11, with Jennifer as one of its 3 founders, the irm has grown to its current 7 partners (all of whom happens to be Filipinas!) with 35 full-time employees. Prior to founding Adelia LLC, she started her career at SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. (Manila, Philippines) (member irm of Ernst & Young) as a staff auditor, and continued as a staff accountant in Belshaw Brothers, Inc., one of the leading manufacturers of bakery equipment in the US. She also worked at E. C. Ortiz & Co., LLP since November 1993, and became a Partner in January 2006. She has over 30 years of experience in inancial audit, compliance examination, consulting, and tax and accounting services. Jennifer graduated Cum Laude from the Philippine School of Business Administration, Quezon City, with a degree in Bachelor of Science i n B u s i n e s s A d m i n i s t ra t i o n , M a j o r i n Accounting. She passed the Certiied Public Accountant (CPA) licensure examination in the Philippines in November 1988, younger than the required age to be granted a license. Before Jennifer could obtain her Philippine CPA license, their family migrated to the United States in May 1989. Within a year, she took the Uniform CPA Exams and passed all parts in irst attempt. Jennifer is a licensed CPA in Illinois and Indiana. Jennifer’s professional afiliations include being a member of the American Institute of Certiied Public Accountants, Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS), Government Finance Oficers Association-Special Review Committee, Philippine CPAs of Greater Chicago, and International Society of Filipinos in Finance and Accounting (ISFFA)-Chicago Chapter. Jennifer is the current President of the Philippine CPAs of Greater Chicago and one of the founding oficers of ISFFA-Chicago Chapter. She also coordinates Adelia’s participation in the ICPAS annual CPA Day of Service, which is a lexible opportunity for accountants to help the community by volunteering. Jennifer spends her free time watching movies at home with her lifetime crush and ever-supportive husband, Oliver. (Nominator: Maria Balita, C.P.A.)
VIA Woman of the Year
Rowena Salas was born in Davao City, Philippines where her family lived for many years until the early 70s when they moved to the United States. Settling near the Chicago area, Rowena went on to attend North Central College where she obtained a degree in Biochemistry, and where she also currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board to the Dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship. After NCC, she continued to Rush University to graduate with a baccalaureate degree in Nursing. She has an extensive background in Neurology and Psychiatry having experiences as a staff nurse at the Veterans Administration Hospital and Rush University Medical Center, where she also worked within the Human Resources and Philanthropy & Communications divisions. Her work experience has branched out from healthcare to areas of business leadership and management, as well as philanthropy in her contributions to many nonproit organizations such as Fox Valley Hands of Hope, Living Well Cancer Center, Fox Valley Food For Health, and Generation Rescue. Additionally, she is on the Board of Directors of the Greater St. Charles Conventions Visitors Bureau that helps promote the longterm development and marketing of St. Charles, I l l i n o i s . A l o n g w i t h p h i l a n t h ro p i c a n d community outreach, Rowena also got her entrepreneurial start when she co-owned a hair salon, and then fostered her passion for the arts by opening a ine art gallery representing 35 artists from around the world—including well renowned Filipino artist, Romi Mananquil. Rowena’s wide range of previous experiences have been instrumental in her current business endeavors, as well as fueling her passion and active involvement within nonpro it organizations. Currently, Rowena is the coowner of the historic Hotel Baker located on the banks of the Fox River which she and her husband, Joe Salas, acquired in 2003. Since then, it has grown into a thriving family business between her husband and two sons, and it shines as a popular downtown spot for the community of St. Charles. (Nominator: Veronica Leighton)
DR. JOEL SEBAG, DPT
Excellence in Music/Philanthropy
Joel’s top priority and focus is the patient. He believes that patient encounters are opportunities for him to know them, their life goals, and their hobbies and interests. He said listening to his patients not only enables him to be a better physical therapist but also to be a more compassionate and understanding human being. Climbing the ladder of success was not easy for Joel. His diligence and determination moved him towards his status now. His primary education was spent in a public school in Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon and his secondary education at Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Bukidnon. After inishing a degree in Physical Therapy in Cebu Doctors University, he took the chance to work in the US where he eventually inished a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Boston University and he was certiied with various specialties in his own ield like the Matheson Program for Functional Capacity Evaluation, Trigger Point Dry Needling and Active Release Program. Joel started his career as a licensed physical therapist in the United States working for US-based corporation and as the former Director of Operations for a traveling company, recruited over 300 therapists mostly from the Philippines and other countries . He had worked for various healthcare setting and performed orientation and inding assignments for newly-hired professionals to their new workplace. He is now president of Spine and Sports Rehab based in Arkansas and has been voted among thirty other clinics in the area as the Best Rehab in Northwest Arkansas for years 2016 and 2017. Prior to this, he was then president of Mountaincrest Rehab, Arkansas in 2000-2010. He is currently the President of the Tommy Sebag Foundation, established in 2012 and serving the community in US and abroad for outreach program for children and conducting medical missions. He continues to be actively involved in professional development serving as Guest Speaker at Cebu Doctors University Rehab’s 25th Anniversary. In addition, he has active membership in professional organizations, such as serving as vice president of the Arkansas Physical Therapy Association in 2010 and member of the American Physical Therapy Association. A man with a big heart, Joel shares his knowledge in printed form as contributor of Pain Procedures in Clinical Practice, 3rd Edition, particularly on Therapeutic Exercises; and as author of the Manual Handbook for Seniors focusing on Low Impact Exercises. Moreover, his community service extends globally, such as: Bantay Bata Philippines benefactor by establishing a rehab facility in a village; conducting medical missions to various areas in the Philippines in collaboration with other Healthcare Providers; providing support for the Tim Tebow Cure Hospital Rehab Program in Davao City, Philippines; and helping non-proit organizations and I tertainment, especially to cities that have never been a venue for any Filipino artists for a concert and promote culture and our very own talents especially for the new generation here in US. Joel’s generosity and hard work did not go unnoticed though. He was recognized as the Genny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino ABSCBN Awardee in 2004 and the Distinguished Alumni Awardee during the Cebu Doctors University 25th Founding Anniversary in 2017. He was also the recipient of the 2018 Cebu Doctors University Grand Home Coming 2018. A man of passion and skill, Joel Sebag is surely going upwards and will continue to touch lives through his profession and his music. (Nominator: Louella Cabalona)
HAROLD SY, MD
Excellence in Medicine
H a r o l d S y , M . D . , h a s b e e n a n ophthalmologist with the Chicago Eye Institute for over ten years. After having been raised in the Chicagoland area, Dr. Sy attended the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign where he went on to graduate with honors with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. From there, Dr. Sy matriculated to Rush University in Chicago where he earned his medical degree. After a year of surgical internship, Dr. Sy was an ophthalmology resident at Cook County/Stroger Hospital in Chicago. As a resident, he earned several awards for research in ophthalmology. Dr. Sy then completed a cornea fellowship in Atlanta, GA where he honed his skills in c a t a ra c t s u r g e r y, L A S I K a n d c o r n e a l transplantation. Once his training was complete, Dr. Sy joined the Chicago Eye Institute as a cataract and cornea specialist, and still works there to this day. He is happy to have come full circle, as he now works at Illinois Masonic Hospital, the same hospital in which he was born. Dr Sy wishes to thank his parents (Dr. Alfredo and Hilda Sy) for their lifetime of support (inancial and emotional). He also wishes to thank all his friends and his future bride-to-be, Maria Starzyk, for their love, support and understanding. A very popular singer (from country to pop music), he sings in a band and has been known as the “singing doctor.” That is, when he is resting from performing cataract surgeries. (Nominator: Maria Girlie Pascual)
NICK VERA PEREZ
VIA Man of the Year
Recently nominated by the PMPC’s 9 Star Awards For Music (Grammy’s / Philippine Movie Press Club)as one of top 7 (out of 196 hopefuls/newbies), top 3 on the list, as Best New Male Recording Artist Of The Year 2017,technically landed second place, Mr. Nick Vera Perez lew for one week to grace the invitation, bringing Chicago’s Fil-Am community back on Entertainment map in the Philippines and now around the world. For many years, Mr, Nick Vera Perez has dreamt of making it huge on his own, with NO assistance from others. This is his greatest self-challenge which he rightfully so created and perhaps, progressively made. When asked, “How did you do it?” He claims, “it is all about perseverance, dignity, reputation and making your craft best at each time you showcase it.” Mr. Nick Vera Perez has learned the arts behind, physical, mental, social, inancial and emotional sides of Music and Arts, now we term, show business. As we recall from his life’s bio which can be read at www.nickvera perez.com, NVP, short for Nick Vera Perez, started singing at age 3 with his late father, Pastor Philip Tan, Sr, as his inspiration, who he visits annually to pay respect for his death anniversary. For years, his dad was his #1 loyal fan. His father was an opera singer, who can burst a bulb in private room performances, through his powerful chest vocal resonances. Mr. Nick Vera Perez is known for his crispy, husky, round and versatile, strong vocal power, where he can adjust strength and control on demand. His vocal whispers send chills when he sings and inspires the inner being, our soul. Mr. Nick Vera Perez sings with his heart from irst introductory note to the end of every song. He has his own signature lares at each second verses to the very end. He loves to change these parts which made him, the love of his fan bases worldwide. Growing up, he never stopped competing solo singing, and has never landed second. With 100++ and counting Music (Solo Singing) trophies on his belt, and counting, Mr. Nick Vera never stops pursuing newer heights each day. As we have known in the past, Mr. Nick Vera Perez, to name a few has these prestigious awards to brag; From Chicago Philippine Reports Tv’s Hall Of Fame Awards 2013, He was the Entertainer Of The Year, followed by same award given the following year by the Philippine American Social Services in 2014. Same Award bestowed on him by the Philippine Independence Week Committee in 2015, and in 2016 – 2017was coined Best Entertainer in Chicago by the VDance Fever. For 6 consecutive years now to be exact, Mr. Nick Vera Perez lives and continues to thrive. This sustaining power is remarkable and in fact, has made more awards when he made 24 shows in 28 days last May 2017 in Manila Philippines, when he released his irst inspiration POP album, digitally released by Warner Music Philippines, carrier titled “I AM READY” called NVPhilippines18. Coming 2019, he will continue the tours with 64 shows total for 60 days on campuses and provinces reaching out to all our Kababayans in his part 3 I AM READY listening sessions in Manila; NVPhilippines2019. He is a regular guest on all Tv programs and radio stations and the darling of most press in Manila. Gawad Filipino awarded Mr. Nick Vera Perez with Media People’s Choice Award for Breakthrough International Balladeer 2017, while Gawad Sining gave him Outstanding Achievement Award as International Host and Singer 2017. Remembering Xsport Fitness also declared Mr. Nick Vera Perez as WINNER for the 5 clubs in GET-FIT Challenge 2016, which through discipline, he was to kick off 48 lbs of body fat away and has sustained it until now. IN lieu, Kangen Water Limitless Lifestyle has given him two accolades to add; Healthy Body Model Award Excellence in Public Relations and Music in 2017. The Album “I AM READY” carrier single landed #2 at the 95.5 FM radio PINAS (Philippines) and has been saving thousands of lives from depression. It has 12 tracks, with which seven were released slowly for public listening pleasure. Total of 7 tracks to enjoy at the moment; namely, I AM READY, MY MOM, DITO SA AKING PUSO, and ALAPAAP, Keep The Fire Burning, Di Maglalaho, and You’re My Hero, all master pieces of Adonis Tabanda, same musical director of most Amon Morissete’s concerts. , all of these are all available for download via online streaming and downloading systems like iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, Google Play and more. His tracks are all inspirational to start with, laser-focused on awakening the inner soul to do more good. The song I AM READY, tackles how one must stand again, and never to give up anything and get the second chances we all deserve in life. It is actually a contest piece. My MOM, is a song dedicated to his loving mother, who NVP adores as well all see it. “Took me four to almost ive months to complete recording it without crying” he states. My MOM is leading in the US as the most downloaded track of NVP on iTunes, and spotify as people can relate the story behind their relationships with their moms. This song gave everyone the chance to say ILOVE you and THANK YOU to all worldwide moms for those who are unable to express these emotions live to their moms. Alapaap, is a teen song with beats clouding to that of reggae which we all can relate when we irst saw our crushes. Those were the days. Alapaap soared high on its irst release and you must listen to it. IT has been played on some community dancing as well and has been well-downloaded by teenagers, children and out age group as well. It captured the hearts of many. Dito Sa Aking Puso sounds like a tele-serye theme song from start to end. It give you that loving chill, on how, when we fell in love, we were once tied to that forever promises, how love stands strong and lasts. Such a beautiful love song to listen. The album has 12 tracks and three bonus singles, total of 15. It is the GOLD edition. IT gives you the chance to sing your versions of I AM READY, YOU’RE MY HERO and MY MOM with all three in accompaniment/instrumental modes. Guesting on his irst album is his niece Ms. Kamylle Paula singing her rendition of Mr. NVP’s original song I BELIEVE IN YOU which is scheduled for release Winter2018. The 12 tracks are all original NVP hits. Music and Lyrics combined composed by Adonis Tabanda, who makes songs for Amon Morissette and Jonalyn Viray of Philippines ABS-CBN talent board. He admits, he loves making songs for these two and Mr. NVP. While his singing career is rising, Mr. NVP always makes a structured plan before he leaps. This year 2017, his life goal is NVP 2017; THE RISE. And it is really happening. In 2018; he set it on ’18NVP, Higher, Bolder and Stronger. With sub captions; Undeined, Unafraid and Unlimited.And we also see it going. Running neck to neck with singing, Mr. NVP has always been our Master OF Ceremonies Extraordinaire. Each time he held that microphone, his vocal whisper tames the crowd effortlessly, and classy. With each hosting event, NO ONE can argue how NVP does his magic. Mostly attended, and enjoyed as always, Mr. Nick Vera Perez was the chosen celebrity co-host for the huge pageant we all know; Miss Earth United States 2018 for Illinois, and Indiana which was held April 15,2018 at the College of Lake County by Greyslake, IL. Mr. Nick Vera Perez has hosted for top notch fashion show for DRESS PARTY Ohio and Jegie Clothing lines under Carrera co, as well as community events like VDance Fever, as house host, PIWC, and more. He also got to perform in San Diego for his Alma Mater where nurses are from all over the world in one gala. In March 24,2018 at the Drury Lane, Mr. Nick Vera Perez performed at his very own company, the NVP1WORLD ENTERTAINMENT, LLC, with the initial offer show titled, I AM READY ALBUM LISTENING SESSION IN SERIES 2018; IL, in a A SOLD OUT mode (within 2.5 weeks of ticket opening), for all his private and wonderful guests; strictly by invitation only. 10 songs with high end stage and displays, menus to enjoy. 4 of which are all his own original as produced. Taking and elevating the showbusiness just like Hollywood, high-end technological processes and blockbuster performances. Mr. Nick Vera Perez is the tenure host of VDance Fever as well as our very own Hall Of Fame which will both take place hand in hand a month apart. On October 20,2018 at the Hilton Northbrook, IL, he hosts the coronation and the 12th year Anniversary of the VDF on his very birthday! Following month, On November 11,2018, he is set to celebrate his 45th birthday with us at the Hyatt Regency O’hare bringing his colleagues and friends to our Hall OF Fame Awards 2018 in time for his awarding ceremony as the TOP VIA Man of The Year along with other 6 Excellence Awards; namely, Humanitarian, Music Entertainment, Enterpreneurship, Popularity, Personality, and Outstanding Staff. Our very own pride to surpass all boundaries of excellence and yet maintains his feet on the ground. He is featured in his Christmas EXTRAVAGANT Dinner/Dance Charity Fundraiser with fantasy show; A Christmas Wish On A Silent Night this December 216,2018 at one of the most attended by Hollywood performers’ stages; The PARKWEST THEATER. Portions of proceeds will be showered to TWO of his charity recipients; THE CHILDHAUS and The KANLUNGAN NI MARIA (home for the aged), with added on CPRTv and VDance FEVER.This show is brought to you by SHelterra Property Solutions and BOWA Constructions along with CPRTv, Via Times News Magazine and Jegie.com. Not to forget that Mr. Nick Vera Perez, known as Alvin Tan to many, was a recipient of Daisy Award, Excellence in Nursing 2013 at Mt Sinai Hospital. His expertise includes Intensive Care Units, Post Anesthesia Care Units, Chemotherapy and Home Health Nursing. He is set to celebrate Nursing after 25 years! Mr. Nick Vera Perez owns very active social media; FOLLOW him on facebook, Instagram, (all with veriied blue check mark), smule (NVP1), Twitter and YOuTUbe. (Nominator:Veronica Leighton)
Entrepreneurship in the Film Industry
S a l i n a Ve s t wa s b o r n i n M a n i l a , Philippines. At the age of ive, Salina immigrated with her family to the USA. She is extremely proud of her heritage and cultural ties in the regions of Cagayan and Pangasinan, her parents’ home regions. Salina is very proud of her only son, David, who in 2017 was awarded a full academic and music scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where he is also a member and principal trumpet of the University Symphony Marching Band and Jazz Solo Chair of UK Jazz Emsemble . Salina attended the International Academy of Fashion Design and Merchandising. Where she gained the knowledge and skills to have a successful and decorated 20-year career in the fashion and retail industry. In that twodecades, Salina gained extensive experience in business management. For two-years, Salina used her business experience to become a manager in the hospitality industry at the Park Hyatt Chicago. With her business experience and knowledge, Salina began searching for a new and more creative challenges, which brought her to the Motion Picture Film industry in 2008 at Product Productions, Inc. First starting in craft services, she quickly moved up to production assistant and then various roles as a production manager and producer. All these various roles provided valuable experience and knowledge of the motion picture and television industry. Eventually, managing Product Productions and its sister company Space Stage Studios, that lease e q u i p m e n t , s t u d i o fa c i l i t i e s , c o n s t r u c t production sets and provide technical stafing, writers, directors, and producers as well as produce various projects. When the opportunity arose for Salina to purchase the companies in 2011, she jumped at the chance and became the sole owner and CEO. Her purchase made Product Productions and Space Stage Studios one of the few, if not the only female-minority owned ilm production business in Chicago. Wh i l e wo r k i n g h e r way u p a t P ro d u c t Productions, she met her future husband Phil Contursi, who is now head of the creative side while Salina manages the business aspect of the two businesses. Salina’s dedication, diligent work ethic, and her ability to change and grow have earned her both respect and success in all of her professional and personal endeavors. (Nominator: Veronica Leighton)
Nursing Leadership and Management
Rommel Ramel Yarcia is a graduate nurse with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Saint Mary’s University Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya Philippines. He has been an active leader throughout his academic days. He was the Class Year Organization President for four consecutive years and the President of the Marian Nursing Student Council (MNSC) during his fourth year of the baccalaureate. He graduated with honors and special awards such as the Ramon Magsaysay Leadership Award, Departmental Leadership Award, Likha Award (Creativeness / Innovativeness), Commitment Award, Best Thesis Presenter Award, and Artist of the Year Award. He also received the award “Most Outstanding Alumni and Homecoming King” during the Saint Mary’s University School of Health Sciences Anniversary on December 2009.
He accomplished several professional certifications, such as Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC), Trauma Nurse Specialist (TNS), Emergency Neurological Life Support (ENLS), Advance Burn Life Support (ABLS), and Non-violent Crisis Intervention Instructor Program (CPI). An active member of the Illinois Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), a member of American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), and member of Sigma Theta Tau International Gamma Phi Chapter Honor Society of Nursing.
On April 2017, he was inducted as the Charter Lion Vice President of Chicago One World Centennial Lions Club at Hilton Northbrook in Illinois by International Lion President Chancellor Robert Corlew. Lions Club is an international non-profit organization that works effectively in highlighting issues affecting the community and addresses them through collective humanitarian initiatives and services. The service organization focuses on five main service areas – Diabetes, Environment, Hunger Relief, Pediatric Cancer and Vision. Recently on September 31, 2018, he was inducted as the Club Lion President by District 1A Lion Governor Howard Swacker.
Coined by Lion Ben Zoleta, District 1A Region 2 Chairperson, “Rommel has demonstrated good leadership and he is undaunted by the demands of Lion Leadership the Millennial way. No doubt that he and his team will succeed in any endeavors they will have in the service of men and women, our communities in need.” While Yoly Zoleta, District 1A Zone Chairperson 2B has stated, “I commend Rommel for his outstanding leadership, commitment and dedication to Lionism. He and his team are meant to be at the forefront. The world witnesses the glitter of their actions through community service.”
Growing up, he was called “Pag-asa ng Pamilya at Bayan” (Hope of the Family and Community) by his late father. A philanthropist by heart, he has initiated and founded SEEDS OF HOPE 2016, a non-profit service organization that is geared towards achieving the goal of supporting the children in need who are less fortunate, dissemination of health education, and inspiring the youth of today to achieve their dreams. Seeds of Hope engages with six focus service areas – 1 Health and Safety Education, 2 Provision of Health and School Supplies, 3 Medical and Dental Screenings, 4 Physical Fitness, 5 Celebrating Cultural Diversity through Arts, Dance, Singing, Cultural Games, and 6. Food Sharing / Feeding Program. Rommel and his team are looking forward to the success of the organization’s fourth project activity this December 2018.
Rommel has been recognized as highly esteemed exceptional nurse leader. He started in the field of Nursing Management and Leadership in the year 2014 as an Assistant Manager of Nursing – Emergency Department at St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center. Affiliated with FOUR top-tier medical facilities in Illinois, he is currently employed as an on-site administrator and resource clinician during the night & weekend hours as a House Nursing Supervisor at Sinai Health Holy Cross Hospital at Chicago, Illinois and at Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center at Elk Grove Village, Illinois USA. He is an Emergency Room Registered Nurse at Loretto Hospital at Chicago, Illinois. And, most recently, he has qualified and was given the opportunity to be the new Hospital Operations Administrator of Rush University Medical Center, located at West Congress Parkway, Chicago, Illinois.
As his self-day-to-day reminder, he believes in the common adage that everything is possible with positive thoughts. Great things never come from comfort zones and you must be able to handle the worst, to be the best. One must have the desire to succeed to open the opportunities to personal excellence.