The Outstanding Filipinos in America Awards (TOFA) founder and executive producer Elton Lugay revealed via Facebook that this year’s official 100 nominees will be featured in an upcoming second coffee table book. Lugay shared that he is extremely proud to showcase the Filipino community’s stories of resilience and believes that everyone deserves an award. The book scheduled for publication next year is a way to express gratitude and appreciation by memorializing each one in the coffee table book.
TOFA, formerly The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York, is an awards event held annually in New York during the Filipino-American History Month celebration in October. The award recognizes and celebrates the achievements of individuals that have good moral characters and organizations that raised the profile of the Filipino-American community. Lugay talked about their journey to 11 years of recognizing influential Filipinos in America, in the recent episode of PairFect with hosts and editors Dinah Ventura and Francine Marquez.
TOFA first recognized the achievements of individuals and organizations in the New York Tri-state area, until 2016 when they decided to go national. Individuals or organizations are nominated by the general community. Before, finalists are voted through Facebook and eventually by its board of directors to determine the winners.
Awardees can receive a Special Recognition Award known as the Heritage Award, who are seen as pillars of the community for their consistent community engagement through their talent, skills and professional acumen. Previously won by Lea Salonga, Monique Lhuillier, Robert Lopez, Sheila Coronel, Josie Natori, KC Concepcion, Ambassador Mario Lopez De Leon Jr., Chef Cris Comerford and Cecile Licad.
The 11th annual TOFA Awards is slated on Thursday, the 7th of October 2021 at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York City which Lugay described as world-class, grand and iconic. TOFA welcomes the return of their resident host, the King of Talk Boy Abunda and the Philippine Queen of Soul, Jaya Ramsey to this year’s Carnegie Hall festivities. It was also announced that Honorable Gina Ortiz Jones (Under Secretary of the Air Force and the highest-ranking Filipino American in the Biden-Harris Administration) and Honorable Rob Bonta, California Attorney General, are confirmed to attend as keynote speakers to this year’s ceremonies.
Instead of the usual three-hour program, this year’s edition will now be just an hour and a half due to the limited time Carnegie has imposed. The ceremony will run from 8 pm to 9:30 pm with no intermission.
All attendees of this year’s 11th TOFA Awards must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and must provide proof of vaccination to gain entry into the grand and iconic hall. Acceptable proof of vaccination includes the New York State Excelsior Pass, the original vaccination card or a printed copy of the vaccination card. Carnegie further requires patrons to show proof that their vaccination was completed at least two weeks before the TOFA night ceremony.