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2008 Magsaysay awardees named

August 1, 2008 3:27am
MANILA, Philippines - A feisty governor and a microlending firm from the Philippines have joined six individuals from Thailand, India, Indonesia, Japan and Sri Lanka as recipients of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

Isabela Governor Grace M. Padaca - a journalist who did not let polio stop her from seeking public office and in the process defeating a powerful political dynasty - and the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) - a microfinance advocate - were named awardees for government service and public service, respectively.

Thailand’s Therdchai Jivacate, whose Prostheses Foundation makes affordable artificial limbs available to even the poorest amputees, was also cited for public service.

An unconventional Japanese publisher, Akio Ishii, was named journalism, literature and creative communications arts awardee. His Akashi Shoten publishing house was said to have placed "difficult subjects" such as discrimination and human rights "squarely in Japan’s public discourse".

Husband and wife Prakash and Mandakini Amte of India, whose work with the Madia Gonds had enhanced the tribe’s "capacity ... to adopt positively in today’s India", were honored for their community leadership.

Indonesia’s Ahmand Syafii Maarif, who heads the Muhammadiyah mass organization, was named awardee for international peace and understanding for "guiding Muslims to embrace tolerance and pluralism as the basis for justice and harmony..."

Ananda Galappatti of Sri Lanka was awardee for emergent leadership, recognized for his commitment in having helped found and foster The Mangrove - a network of organizations and individuals dedicated to offering psychosocial services after the 2004 tsunami.

The Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF), which administers the awards, cited Ms. Padaca for empowering the voters of the province of Isabela to exercise their right to choose their leaders and actively participate in achieving their own development.

In defeating the Dy family in the 2004 gubernatorial polls, she implemented reforms and programs that won her a second term in 2007.

CARD MRI, founded by Jaime Aristotle Alip along with Dolores Torres, Lorenza Bañez and other rural development workers in 1986, was said to have successfully utilized the Grameen micro-credit program to help women borrowers and their families.

From its roots in the province of Laguna, CARD MFI has since expanded into banking, microlending and insurance, with 337 branches all over the country, over half a million poor women as members, and nearly two and a half million people insured.

The Ramon Magsaysay Awards, often described as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel prizes, were set up by the US-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund in 1957 to honor the popular president, who died that year in a plane crash.

"The Magsaysay awardees of 2008 are indeed pathfinders in a changing Asia, charting new ways to address persistent, often intractable problems in their societies," RMAF President Carmencita Abella said.

"Working in different countries on diverse issues of poverty, prejudice, politics livelihoods, and health, these awardees nevertheless share an uncommon faith in the tremendous potential of people and social institution."

This year’s awardees join 263 others who have received the honor to date. Winners of the Magsaysay Award will receive a certificate, a medallion and cash prize. The awardees will be formally presented with the Magsaysay Award on August 31, 2008 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. - BusinessWorld