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Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala Event University of the Philippines Alumni Association in America


By: Veronica Leighton


Hailed as a huge success, the 20th UPAAA Grand Reunion and Convention 2019 held at Crowne Plaza Hotel SF last Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2019 was concluded with its attending UP alumni feeling the old UP Spirit alive and well. What with its continuous playing of familiar tunes of UP anthems UP Beloved and Push On UP (UP Rah UP Rah) inside the ballroom before the program started. Congratulations to Ms. Nelsie Parrado, UPAAA 2x President, her officers and board of directors and to SoniaT. Delen, President, UPAA SF Chapter, hosting chapter, and her officers for a job well done! Special congratulations likewise to the following deserving and distinguished co-awardees of mine….Olive Rocha Aliga (Leadership, Gender Equality and Women Empowerment); Juanita Francisca Caccam, Ph.D. (Biochemistry and Community Service); Benito De Lumen, Ph.D. (Science and Technology); Wilfredo Feliciano, MD (Plastic Surgery and Healthcare Leadership); Roy Guinto, MD (Surgical Missions and Community Service; Dennis Labayen, MD (Community Empowerment and Human Development); Atty. Teodoro Laguatan (Immigration Law); Edward Mader, Jr., (Neurophysiology and Medical Education); Luisito Pablo, DVM, MS; (Education); Cirilo Reyes, Jr. (Veterinary Medicine and Community Service); Constancia Somera-Uy, MD (Pediatric Nephrology and Women Empowerment); Josefino Tunac. Ph.D., (Medical Science); Winston Umali, MD (Pediatric Medicine); Zenaida Mendoza-Sarmeinto (International Medical Services); Diosdado & Maria Banatao (Outstanding Community Service; and me, Venus Veronica Bacatan Leighton (Mass Communication).

Interestingly, I received this prestigious award together with two of our past Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Famers, Olive Rocha Aliga and Dado Banatao, well-known venture capitalist and philanthropist.

We were honored by the presence of the UP President, Mr. Danilo Concepcion, who handed us the certificates of award and put the honorary symbol sablay sash on the awardees. Master of ceremonies was versatile Henni Espnoza of ABS-CBN.


Group picture of the UP Jubilarians, from Platinum to Wood participants.


Veronica with co-awardees, Maria and Dado Banatao, wellknown venture capitalist and philanthropist. Mr. Dado Banatao is a past awardee of the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame award.


Mr. Danilo Concepcion, current President of the University of the Philippines Diliman, addresses the UP alumni audience at the recent UPAAA Convention and Grand Reunion.


Left to right: Veronica Leighton, Henni Espinosa of ABSCBN, and Aida Sarmiento, UPAAA officer.


Veronica with college friend, Amelia Vera Sebastian, who lives in Los Angeles, California.


UP President Concepcion putting the traditional sablay sash on Veronica, a symbolic tradition during the awarding. Sablay is made of native material from Mindanao.


Veronica with awardee Olive Aliga and her husband, Dr. Norman Aliga. Olive is another distinguished alum from Illinois and a past awardee of the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame in Music.


Group picture of awardees of 2019 Most Distinguished Alumni Award of the UP Alumni Association in America.

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