OPM icon Martin Nievera leads new honorees of Outstanding Filipinos in America

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Martin Nievera leads the Outstanding Filipinos in America
The newest set of honorees has contributed a mountain of achievements in the fields of entertainment, business, law, public service, education, culinary, and media in America. Photo credits to TOFA.

Original Pilipino Music (OPM) icon Martin Nievera leads the new set of luminaries recognized by The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA).

The TOFA organization announced in a Facebook release on September 16, 2020, the additional 10 honorees who are joining the 1st set of awardees which was led by Broadway royalty Lea Salonga and Boxing Champion Manny Pacquiao.

The New York-based award-giving body founded by Elton Lugay in 2011 annually recognizes outstanding Filipinos who contribute to American society.

As part of the 10th year celebration, the Fil-Am organization is gradually naming this year’s awardees until the 100 Filipino luminaries are completed before the virtual awarding on October 31.

The latest set of honorees has contributed mountain of achievements in the fields of entertainment, business, law, public service, education, culinary, and media in America.

Check out the 2nd set of TOFA awardees who are the Philippines’ pride:

Martin Nievera (Entertainment)

Singer, songwriter, and television host Martin Nievera is known as the “Concert King of the Philippines” and the first Filipino American to have had a featured show on the Las Vegas Strip. Though his professional career began in the 1980s, he had been performing since 14 years old with the Society of Seven, a Hawaii-based singing group that included his father Bert Nievera. Over the past four decades, Martin Nievera has become one of the most recognizable Filipino performers in the United States. The best-selling artist has achieved 18 platinum, five double-platinum, three triple-platinum, and one quadruple-platinum records throughout his professional career.

Martin Nievera’s Facebook Live concerts have been entertaining audiences amid the lockdown, The Concert King also partnered with Pops Fernandez for a Bayanihan Musikahan Facebook Live fundraiser for people whose livelihoods were affected by the quarantine.

Josie Natori (Business)

Josie Cruz Natori is the founder and CEO of The Natori Company, which created a global brand with the fusion of aesthetics from the East and the West. Over four decades, Natori has become a lifestyle brand incorporating lingerie collections, ready-to-wear apparel, home décor, bed and bath merchandise, fragrance, and eyewear. Josie Natori sits on the boards of the Asian Cultural Council, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, and the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines. A 2007 recipient of the prestigious Lakandula presidential award in the Philippines, she is also a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the Committee of 200.

Nicole Ponseca (Culinary)

Nicole Ponseca pushed Filipino cuisine towards the mainstream with her groundbreaking restaurants in New York’s East Village, Jeepney and Maharlika. Throughout its nine-year run until 2019, Maharlika was a popular venue showcasing Filipino culture with authenticity, alongside Jeepney. The restaurants have been highly rated by Michelin, Washington Post, New York Times, and more. Ponseca titled her cookbook (co-written with Miguel Trinidad) “I Am A Filipino”, which was nominated for a James Beard award in 2019.

Jannelle So-Perkins (Media)

Media pioneer Jannelle So has received multiple awards for her coverage and contributions to the FilAm media landscape. She is the host and producer of the lifestyle show “SO Jannelle” broadcast over The Filipino Channel, Lifestyle Network, and KSCITV-LA18. She was the creator, original host, and producer of “Kababayan TODAY,” the longest-running Filipino daily talk show aired outside of the Philippines. Jannelle maintains weekly columns for news publications in the Philippines and California.

Fil-Am TV’s Jannelle So offers FB Live webinars with new normal lifestyle tips.

Dado Banatao (Entrepreneurship)

The Philippines’ foremost techpreneur, Diosdado Banatao is an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, aviator, and philanthropist. Renowned as the “Bill Gates of the Philippines”, he designed key electronic circuits that have helped evolve the personal computers of today. He co-founded three technology start-ups in Silicon Valley in the 1980s before founding Tallwood Capital Ventures, where he is the managing partner. He has held leadership positions in many technology firms and remains incumbent with Ikanos and Inphi Corporation as chairman and on the board of directors of Wave Semiconductor. A staunch believer in the power of education to eradicate poverty in the Philippines, Banatao supports aspiring Filipino engineers and provides free education to young Filipinos through the Philippine Development Foundation.

Lorna Schofield (Law)

The first Filipino American to be appointed as a federal judge under Article III of the United States Constitution, Lorna Schofield is the incumbent district judge for the Southern District of New York. She was confirmed to the post by a unanimous Senate vote in December 2012. An experienced trial lawyer and federal prosecutor, Judge Schofield was a litigation partner at Debevoise & Plimpton prior to her federal judge appointment, accumulating 20 years at the international law firm. She held many leadership positions at the American Bar Association and is a thought leader on trial tactics and women in the legal profession.

Gil Quiniones (Public Service)

He is the president and CEO of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the largest state-owned electric utility in the United States. He has been at the helm of the statewide utility since 2011 and is a key player in America’s pursuit of energy transformation through leadership roles at the Alliance to Save Energy, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Large Public Power Council, and the American Public Power Association. Quiniones held various positions during the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and worked at Con Edison for 16 years prior to entering public service.

Kevin Nadal (Education and Research)

An award-winning professor, author, psychologist, and activist, Dr. Kevin Nadal is one of the leading researchers in understanding the impacts of microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination, on the mental and physical health of people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people; and other marginalized groups. He has published over 100 works on multicultural issues in the fields of psychology and education. A national trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and co-founder of the LGBTQ Scholars of Color National Network, Nadal has delivered hundreds of lectures across the United States, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

Ruben V. Nepales & Janet Susan Rodriguez Nepales (Media)

Ruben and Janet Nepales are award-winning journalists based in Los Angeles. They are the first and only Filipino members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), an association of international journalists that presents the Golden Globe Awards and is noted for its philanthropic efforts. In 2012, Ruben became HFPA’s first Filipino board chairman, while Janet was recognized by the Filipina Women’s Network as one of the “100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the U.S.” The couple shares their advocacy to spotlight the talents of Filipino heritage who are excelling in the world entertainment stage.

Jason Benjamin Alinea Tengco (Youth)

Over the past decade, Jason Tengco has worked for the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign, The White House, Obama Administration, Congress, and numerous nonprofit and campus organizations. Today, he is the coalition’s chief of staff for Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Jason has been described as a transformational leader with an unmatched experience and an unshakeable work ethic, whose networking expertise has fortified the FilAm community at the grassroots level.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to OPM icon Martin Nievera and the Filipino luminaries who made it to the list of 100 Outstanding Filipinos in America.

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Alyssa Leyda-Aldemo
Alyssa Leyda-Aldemo was a contributor in the News Letter of her former agency and is currently a content writer on her church's website and social media platform. She is now a full-time housewife who wants to re-ignite her passion for writing.