Illustrado Editor-In-Chief among 7 Dakilang Bayani Recipients

Seven Dubai-based Filipinos were awarded with the prestigious Dakilang Bayani award last Friday at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai as part of the 123rd Philippine Independence Day celebrations.

Dakilang Bayani (translated to Noble Hero) is the highest award given to Overseas Filipinos by the Office of the Philippine Consulate General in the UAE. It honors the deeds of overseas Filipinos who’ve gone above and beyond to uplift the Filipino community, while showcasing exceptional talent along the way.

This year’s awardees were comprised of International Couturier Michael Cinco, CEO of Prime Group Dr Mary Jane Alvero Almahdi, Senior Gulf News Reporter Angel Tesorero, Entrepreneur Fevie Laurilla, Financial Consultant Ace Quijada, Community Leader Josie Conlu, and Editor in chief & Co Founder of Illustrado Magazine, Lalaine Chu Benitez.

Michael Cinco, Internationally renowned Couturier

“Dakilang Bayani is a Filipino who inspires the community not just locally but also in the international scene. It has been my passion to elevate our identity and redefine how Filipinos are known in the global fashion industry by the creations impalpably seen through my eyes. I have created and transformed the Filipino aesthetics by dressing up known celebrities, royalties, beauty queens and supported worthy causes that propel who we are: Filipinos who are proud of our artistic heritage and unfettered by challenges. It is with great humility and transparency that I am able to say that what I have done in the fashion industry and will continue to do, inspired and will inspire generations of young designers to follow their impalpable dreams.”

Lalaine Chu Benitez, Editor in Chief & Co Founder of Illustrado Magazine

“From the simple desire for a more progressive representation for Filipinos in the media, my team and I created Illustrado Magazine in 2006. For the last 15 years, we have been championing the world-class Filipino through aspirational and empowering content. We have not only supported thousands of talents, but also inspired millions of our compatriots across the globe to aspire for advancement. Most importantly, we have elevated the way our community is seen, while setting the gold standard for Filipino communications in the region. We have done this despite many sacrifices, commercial challenges, and limited resources — because this is our calling.”

Mary Jane Alvero Almahdi, CEO of Prime Group of Companies

“To be a Dakilang Bayani means creating a difference, making invaluable contributions to society and to helping other people realise their worth. Receiving a recognition from a reputed institution means a validation of one’s works. I’m honoured and I vow to continue to take responsibility for every choice and decision I make, and commit to continually improve myself to do more.”

Angel Tesorero, Senior Gulf News Reporter

“As a journalist, I deliver the news to my kababayans (compatriots) truthfully and with urgency. The pandemic has brought disinformation in mass media and I would like to believe I did my role in battling the ‘infodemic’ by providing the public — through Gulf News — with accurate information they needed to make informed decisions.”

Josie Conlu, Community Leader

“I’ve served the Filipino community by organising various community outreach programmes, medical missions, job fairs, and others. I’ve also showcased the strength of every successful Filipino in various social media platforms and spent time helping distressed overseas Filipinos by seeking assistance from government, semi-government and private organisations.”

Ace Quijada, Financial Consultant & Community Champion

“Helping anyone without any reservation, willing to take risks to fight for what is right, preserving integrity and personal values at any circumstance, being determined and committed to accomplish an endeavour for a good cause; even at the expense of sacrificing own time, goals and personal priorities. These have been my guiding principles over the years, and if these were the same parameters used in the evaluation for Dakilang Bayani, then perhaps these were the primary reasons why I was considered for the award by the selection committee and our beloved consul-general.”

Fevie Laurilla, Entrepreneur & Community Leader

“I am an ordinary Filipina who consistently helps my kababayans (compatriots) in my own little way. Others may think it’s a cliché, but when I help my kababayans who are in need, I also feel blessed. Helping others bring me joy and blessings come back a hundred-fold. And when you do good with a clean heart and sincere intention, I think that qualifies you to become an exemplary Dakilang Bayani.”

Taking on the immense task of shortlisting awardees, this year’s selection committee was composed of Consul General Paul Cortes, Mme. Yasmin Balajadia Cortes, Vice consul Aleah Gica, and Drs. Rommel Sergio Pilapil, Nino Decenorio, Rex Bacara and Ben Lebig. Five community leaders were also selected as runner-up candidates for the award: Francisco Boton, Emelina Parcia, Richard Zulueta, Ion Gonzaga and Lou Parocco.

Members of the committee and attendees of the event also paid special tribute to Consul General Paul Cortes, who is set to finish his Tour of Duty soon.

Under his leadership as the top Filipino diplomat to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, the consulate has received a number of awards and recognitions through its outstanding service.