30 July 2003


2003 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Announced

Greatness of Spirit Lives!

The Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation today announced that seven individuals from India, China, Japan, the Philippines and East Timor will receive Asia’s most prestigious prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

The Awardees are:

James Michael Lyngdoh, India’s Chief Election Commissioner, for Government Service. Mr.Lyngdoh is being recognized for his convincing validation of free and fair elections as the foundation and best hope of secular democracy in strife-torn India.

Dr. Gao Yaojie, a retired gynecologist turned AIDS activist from China, for Public Service. Dr. Gao is being honored for her fervent personal crusade to confront the AIDS crisis in China and to address it humanely.

Shantha Sinha, from India, working to eradicate child labor and to ensure access to education for all the children in the state of Andhra Pradesh, for Community Leadership. Ms. Sinha is being cited for her guiding the people of Andhra Pradesh to end the scourge of child labor and send all of their children to school.

Sheila Coronel, from the Philippines, a founder and currently Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. Ms Coronel is receiving the Award for her leading a groundbreaking collaborative effort to develop investigative journalism as a critical component of democratic discourse in the Philippines.

Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, from Japan, who is leading volunteer health service programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for Peace and International Understanding.  Dr. Nakamura is being cited for his passionate commitment to ease the pains of war, disease and calamity among refugees and the mountain poor of the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands.

Seiei Toyama, from Japan, a soil agriculturist and environmentalist greening the deserts of Inner Mongolia in China, also for Peace and International Understanding. Mr. Toyama is being honored for his twenty-year crusade to green the deserts of China in a spirit of solidarity and peace.

Aniceto Guterres Lopes, from East Timor, Chairperson of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, for Emergent Leadership. Mr. Guterres Lopes is being recognized for his courageous stand for justice and the rule of law during East Timor’s turbulent passage to nationhood.

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It honors the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine President and is given yearly to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same sense of selfless service that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.

This year’s Magsaysay awardees, according to Foundation President Carmencita T. Abella, continue this tradition of ‘greatness of spirit in selfless service to the people’. Their sense of leadership, unwavering commitment, and quiet compassion toward their fellowmen are making a real difference in transforming Asia for the better. Amidst great divisions, inequity and seeming hopelessness, these remarkable women and men work quietly and persistently to address longstanding, painful social issues. Without fear or fanfare, they bring to the world inspiring news of courage, healing, justice, generosity, solidarity, reconciliation and hope. The Foundation is privileged to be the bearer of such inspiration from Asia to the entire world.

The Award is given in six categories:

The seven 2003 Magsaysay awardees join 229 other laureates who have received Asia’s highest honor to date. This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during Presentation Ceremonies to be held on August 31, 2003 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, to which the public is cordially invited.

This year’s Magsaysay awardees will also speak in a series of public lectures to be held at the Ramon Magsaysay Center from August 28 to September 2, 2003.


For more information, please contact:
Mrs. Lourdes Mercado-Balbin
Communications Officer, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation
1680 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines
Telephones: 524-2390; 521-3166 to 85, locals 161, 180
Fax No.: 521-8105 E-mail: lmbalbin@rmaf.org.ph
Website: www.rmaf.org.ph