In a recent virtual announcement, the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) gave Asia’s premier prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, to four individuals from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines.
The 2021 Magsaysay Awardees are:
Roberto Ballon (Philippines)—Recognized for “his inspiring determination in leading his fellow fisherfolk to revive a dying fishing industry by creating a sustainable marine environment for this generation and generations to come, and his shining example of how everyday acts of heroism can truly be extraordinary and transformative.”
Steven Muncy (Southeast Asia)—Recognized for “his unshakable belief in the goodness of man that inspires in others the desire to serve; his life-long dedication to humanitarian work, refugee assistance, and peace building; and his unstinting pursuit of dignity, peace, and harmony for people in exceptionally difficult circumstances in Asia.”
Firdausi Qadri (Bangladesh)— Recognized for “her passion and life-long devotion to the scientific profession; 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 (Pakistan)—Recognized for “his intelligence and compassion that enabled him to create the largest microfinance institution in Pakistan; 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 (Indonesia)—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 Magsaysay Awardees of 2021 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. 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.
We draw much hope from the 2021 Magsaysay laureates, and have much to celebrate! In these difficult times, we need to hear their good and uplifting stories. It reminds us that more than ever, in trying times, greatness of spirit is among us.
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 formal Presentation Ceremonies to be held on Nov. 28 at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila.