July 19 2019
From an exceptional group of finalists in the 2019 GMA Network Excellence Award (GNEA), Ryan Delos Reyes Francisco of University of the East (UE) – Caloocan and Wenilyn Sabalo of University of San Jose Recoletos (USJ-R) – Cebu were conferred as this year’s winners in the Network’s search for outstanding student achievers.
The awarding ceremonies, held today, July 19, at the GMA Network Center, was led by GMA Network Chairman and CEO Atty. Felipe L. Gozon together with GMA Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Communications Angela Javier Cruz, YesPinoy Foundation Chairman Dingdong Dantes, GMA New Media, Inc. Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer Raymund Sarmiento, award-winning broadcast journalist Atom Araullo, and GNEA ambassador Benjamin Alves. Both Francisco and Sabalo were granted plaques and P50,000 cash each.
As the representative for one of GNEA’s partner organizations, Dantes emphasized how this initiative helps empower the youth. “Yung kabuuan ng programa, it can open more doors para sa mga estudyante o graduates dahil bukod sa nire-recognize ang kanilang excellence, makikita nila definitely na meron silang lugar dito sa GMA. By recognizing them, mas nae-empower natin sila.”
Alves, on the other hand, briefly shared his experience being one of the panelists and on how the GNEA finalists continued to surprise him during their interviews. “These kids are already recognized as excellent students in their school so it’s nice that we are giving that respect to them and making sure that we give them more opportunities to be seen not only as excellent students but excellent citizens as well.”
Francisco graduated magna cum laude with a degree in BS Computer Engineering. As the recipient of this year’s GNEA for the Technology-based category, he sees the opportunity to continue advocating for education, “Ito po ang magiging stepping stone para magpatuloy bilang isang advocate ng quality education. Gagamitin ko po ito para maging role model lalo na sa mga out-of-school youth na nangangailangan talaga. Sabi nga po ng mga magulang natin, edukasyon ang pinakamagandang yaman na maipapamana natin sa kahit na sino.”
Sabalo, the awardee for the Communication category, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. “Sobrang thankful po ako sa experience na ito, at itong award na ito po ay para sa lahat ng sumuporta sa akin, sa family ko, sa friends, at sa unibersidad. I’m currently employed sa isang newspaper sa Cebu and I’m happy being a journalist and being able to help form a decisive community,” she said.
Also joining Araullo, Alves, and Sarmiento as this year’s GNEA panel of judges are GMA Engineering Senior Vice President Elvis Ancheta, GMA First Vice President for Public Affairs Nessa S. Valdellon, GMA Information and Communications Technology Vice President Nina Cruz.