MANILA, December 13, 2004
(STAR) President Arroyo leads the powerhouse lineup of achievers and newsmakers honored by PEOPLE Asia magazine at its first "People of the Year" awards tonight at the Rigodon Ballroom of The Peninsula Manila in Makati City.

Mrs. Arroyo, cited for her determination and efforts to turn the Philippine economy and security situation around, is the special guest at the event.

The awards seek to give honor and recognition to the achievers and newsmakers of the past year.

PEOPLE Asia, headed by chairman and publisher Max V. Soliven and STARGATE president/CEO Babe Romualdez, also honors US President George W. Bush. The White House has sent an emissary and a special letter to Soliven acknowledging the award for Mr. Bush.

Local government leaders Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando and new Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca will also be honored tonight. Titans of industry like beer, banking and airline magnate Lucio Tan, PLDT and Smart Communications’ chairman Manny Pangilinan, "the King of the Baltics" shipping and container terminals magnate Ricky Razon, San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., Jollibee founder and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong, ABC-5 president and patron of the arts Antonio Cojuangco, Bench’s big boss Ben Chan, Stores Specialists’ Anton Huang, HCG’s dynamic Steve Chien and Universal Motor Corp.’s Elizabeth Lee will also share center stage to accept their trophies as PEOPLE Asia’s top achievers.

Other "People of the Year" awardees include Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, who topped the senatorial polls, and the cause-oriented Sen. Pia Cayetano. Songbird Lea Salonga, Fil-am singing sensation and American Idol third placer Jasmine Trias, boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, internationally acclaimed public speaker Patricia Evangelista, golf champion Jennifer Rosales as well as the most noted Filipino designer in Hollywood, Monique Lhuillier, will be recognized for their extraordinary achievements here and abroad.

Kris Aquino has been named the "star of the year," while broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez is being lauded for her courageous and dynamic work in television. Singing sensation Sarah Geronimo, hearing specialist Dr. Eduardo Go, who gave up a lucrative practice in Canada and elsewhere abroad to come home to work to restore the hearing of fellow Filipinos, giving free help to many poor patients, whose lives were turned around by this, will be honored as well.

Fernando Poe Jr. was also chosen by PEOPLE Asia’s editorial board to be among the awardees for putting up a good fight in the May presidential polls.

The country’s unsung heroes — the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) — will be honored for their sacrifices and invaluable contribution to the economy. They will be represented by Edward Dangan, Nicky Hodges, Jonathan Yanson and William Benavidez. Check the skies, because it’s going to be raining stars this night for this power-packed event coinciding with the magazine’s fifth anniversary. Over 350 celebrities and newsmakers, heroes and heroines, tycoons and tastemakers were invited to attend this festive evening at the Rigodon Ballroom.

It promises to be a star-studded who’s who list of the names and faces that shaped the past year.

With Johnny Litton and news anchor Pinky Webb as emcees, and songs from the MOBB band, the O.B. Montessori "Angels" Children’s Choir and the up-and -coming Faith Cuneta, the evening promises to be a night filled with music, laughter and applause for the people that made 2004 such a memorable year.

PEOPLE Asia’s editorial board drew up the list of memorable newsmakers for the year — a list that includes many famous names, along with some low-profile achievers and featured them for its glossy year-end double issue (December 2004-January 2005). With a coffeetable book soon available to commemorate its first-time awards ceremony, this is turning out to be a year of multiple firsts for PEOPLE Asia.

The grand awards night is sponsored by Volvo, Standard Chartered, HCG, PAGCOR, Canon, The Peninsula Manila, 92.3 JOEY, Twinings of London and The Philippine STAR.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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