Philippine government recognizes Hawaii lawmaker with prestigious award

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Published: Jul. 23, 2022 at 6:42 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 23, 2022 at 8:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Philippine government conferred one of its most prestigious awards to state Sen. Bennette Misalucha this week.

The Presidential Banaag Award recognizes a Filipino individual or organization for advancing the cause of Filipinos overseas and the diaspora. “Banaag” means glimmer or ray of light in Tagalog.

Misalucha is the first Philippine-born Filipina lawmaker in the United States and has served communities in Hawaii for more than 30 years.

“Many of our second generation Filipinos were denying their ethnicity, their heritage. They labeled themselves as locals or Chinese Spanish. It was a painful time in our history, just coming out of the plantation period, we admittedly face negative stereotypes as an ethnic group,” she said.

“This was not acceptable to me. It was then that I decided that I could not simply sit back. I needed to do my part, my share in uplifting the community and advocating for issues and values.”

Misalucha noted that while the Filipino community has come a long way, younger generations still need support.

Past winners of the Presidential Medal from Hawaii include human rights activists Dr. Amy Agbayani and Dr. Belinda Aquino.

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