A fisherman from the southern Philippines, an Indonesian media group, a scientist from Bangladesh, a Pakistani entrepreneur, and a humanitarian worker are this year’s winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed as Asia’s Nobel Prize.
The winners were announced on Tuesday, August 31, in an online meeting from the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation office in Manila.
The Foundation recognizes Roberto Ballon, a fisherman from the province of Zamboanga Sibugay in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, for “his inspiring determination in leading his fellow fisherfolk to revive a dying fishing industry by creating a sustainable marine environment.”
Steven Muncy of the Community and Family Services International is honored for his “unshakable belief in the goodness of man that inspires in others the desire to serve.”
He is recognized for his “life-long dedication to humanitarian work, refugee assistance, peace building, and his unstinting pursuit of dignity, peace, and harmony for people in exceptionally difficult circumstances in Asia.”
For “her passion and life-long devotion to the scientific profession,” Firdausi Qadri of Bangladesh is honored by the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
She is recognized for her “vision of building the human and physical infrastructure that will benefit the coming generation of Bangladeshi scientists, women scientists in particular, and her untiring contributions to vaccine development, advanced biotechnological therapeutics and critical research that has been saving millions of precious lives.”
Muhammad Amjad Saqib of Pakistan is recognized for “his intelligence and compassion that enabled him to create the largest microfinance institution in Pakistan.” The Award noted his “inspiring belief that human goodness and solidarity will find ways to eradicate poverty and his determination to stay with a mission that has already helped millions of Pakistani families”
Watchdoc from Indonesia is recognized for “Emerging Leadership in an Organization” for its “highly principled crusade for an independent media organization, its energetic use of investigative journalism, documentary filmmaking, and digital technology in its effort to transform Indonesia’s media landscape, and its commitment to a vision of the people themselves as makers of media and shapers of their own world.”
Established in 1958, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s premier prize and highest honor. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the seventh Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.
The award-giving body said that this year’s awardees “are one in their commitment to build solutions to vital and complex issues in their societies.”
“Theirs is a moral courage that is unfazed by repressive systems, or social divisions, or institutional resistance, or deep cultural prejudice,” it said, adding that “embracing the challenges of their respective advocacies, these leaders take bold, creative, and empowering actions that engage others to do likewise.”
“Perhaps the most powerful impact of their leadership can be seen in the heightened moral courage through the many lives they have touched and inspired,” read a statement from the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation.
This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Magsaysay, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during formal Presentation Ceremonies to be held on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila.