TOFA presents first Presidential Volunteer Service Awards
The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) Awards celebrated its very own volunteers on 23 July in a first-of-its-kind Filipino American community event at the Triad Theater for the first time in its 12-year history.
“The first Annual TOFA Presidential Volunteer Service Awards is a first-of-its-kind in our community,” Elton Lugay, founder and CEO of TOFA Awards, said.
“When TOFA got certified last year as a channel for achievement awards signed by no less than the President of the United States, I could not hold my excitement,” he added.
To ensure the flawless execution of the Annual TOFA Awards at Carnegie Hall, Lugay highlighted that TOFA is “nothing” without its hard-working volunteers who work tirelessly.
The 27 volunteers approached the podium to accept the presidential certificate, it was a melancholy day for them all. Performers Denise Kara Almario, 12, and Art Neeko delos Santos, 13, as well as future nurses and LGBT community production staff Vincent Cervantes, resourceful educator Edchelle Rellama, founder of JCI Queens and CEO of a catering company Carolyn Marticio, well-known female impersonator Boots Babushka aka “The Other Pilita” and events coordinator for a zero-waste, carbon-neutral caterer Daniel Oyan were among the first.
The TOFA brand has grown throughout the years. Participation by TOFA musicians in NBA/NFL Filipino Heritage Nights at Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Citi Field, and Radio City Music Hall occurs all year long. At LGBT pride events, TOFA volunteers can be seen working as ticket takers, Covid-19 test checkers, parade marshals, or even trash collectors.
Professional flutist Melody Ursua Kelly, music ministers Ron Joseph and Ericah Laxamana, family medicine nurse practitioner Georgio Dano, singer Michelle Pross, also known by the stage name Michelle Michelle, musicians Temi Tecson and Rasmin Lumagbas, recording artist Geo Rebucas, known as the “Mariah Carey of the Philippines,” and transgender singer and songwriter Toni Gado all received presidential certificates at the second awards ceremony.
Longtime partners Dick Carver and Josie Poliquit, Frances Gia Capistrano, Bong Echavez, DJ Dennis Almario, Jocelyn Luna de los Santos, Sherwin Reyes, Vicente Gesmundo, and Miles dela Cruz were also given presidential volunteer awards by TOFA.
Guest speakers Hon. Mario Lopez de Leon Jr., Atty. Steven Raga Both, Dr. Farah Delance Linot and Elizabeth Cueva spoke encouragingly and the event was made more spectacular by headliners Geo Rebucas and opening acts Zaira Soriano and Ellis Young.
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