, December 2, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presented today The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award to a lady forensic scientist and six male winners who have distinguished themselves for their exceptional achievements in the arts, business, science, medicine, community development and youth leadership.

The President handed the coveted TOYM awards in simple ceremonies this morning at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang. She was assisted by Gerry Roxas Foundation Chairperson Judy Araneta Roxas and Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company (PLDT) Chairman Manuel Pangilinan.

This year’s TOYM awardees are Maria Corazon de Ungria for forensic science; Beethoven del Valle Bunagan, entertainment arts; Paul Felipe Cruz, aquaculture; Illac Angelo Diaz, social entrepreneurship; Edgardo Herbosa, countryside development; Alvin Valeriano Marcelo, medical information; and House minority floorleader Francis Joseph Escudero, youth leadership.

Dr. de Ungria was cited for her untiring efforts in spearheading the research and development activities of the University of the Philippines’ Natural Science Research Institute DNA Analysis Laboratory that have led to the recognition and acceptance of DNA in court cases and other forensic application.

Bunagan, better known as "Michael V" or "Bitoy," is the Philippines "Master of Disguises," Asia’s "Best Comedy Actor" awardee, and a world-class talent.

To help bridge gaps in the aquaculture industry, Cruz convened the 1st Philippine Aquaculture Congress and Exhibition in 2003, the biggest national technology event to date. The congress led to the establishment of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Board of the Philippines (FAB). To help the plight of impoverished marginal fishermen, Cruz recently promoted mariculture for rural development to ensure the competitiveness of small farmers and fishers.

An entrepreneur, Illac’s story has been constantly featured by numerous newspapers, magazines and televisions shows here and abroad. He established the "Pier One Seafarer’s Center" where seafarers can stay for as low as $1 per day while being educated about HIV/AIDS. Today, the Pier One Seafarer’s Dormitories Program has served almost 40,000 migrants from the provinces who were given inexpensive shelter and jobs.

Herbosa’s outstanding achievement stems from his conceptualization and implementation of the E-Commerce for Farmers Program of the Philippines where he has successfully combined the newest and oldest industries and the government institutions to develop a holistic program for the agriculture sector. His e-marketplace website is now posted with some P130 billion worth of products covering three major industries – agriculture and food, consumer goods, and industrial goods.

Dr. Marcelo chairs the UP College of Medicine Medical Informatics Unit (MIU) and his natural leadership attributes have brought the value of health information management to the attention and support of clinicians, national and local health program managers, as well as allied health professionals. His involvement in community health and development programs as national coordinator has contributed to the improvement of health of up to 300,000 people in urban and rural areas, with a potential to improve the health of 3.5 million poor Filipinos by year 2010.

An active student leader, Escudero spent most of his academic life at the University of the Philippines and became mayor at age 25 in his native province of Sorsogon. Through various accomplishments, he has earned the respect of his much older colleagues at the House of Representatives and many believe he will be a giant name in the history of Philippine politics.

Now on its 46th year, the TOYM Search is a project of the Junior Chamber International Philippines (Philippine Jaycees, Inc.) in cooperation with the TOYM Foundation and the Gerry Roxas Foundation.

The annual award is given to young Filipino men and women between 18 and 40 years old for exemplary achievements in their own fields as well as outstanding contributions to the community and country.

Manila, December 2, 2005
(STAR)  By Aurea Calica - Malacañang blamed "poisoned politics" yesterday for the continued exodus of Filipinos seeking better job opportunities abroad but said things were looking up and might persuade people to stay.

A Pulse Asia survey found that one in every three Filipinos wants to move to another country and almost one quarter believes the Philippines is hopeless.

"Poisoned politics is the root of pessimism in our country right now but this is slowly being overcome by the growing confidence in the economy and the brightening prospects for the New Year," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said.

"We do acknowledge the sacrifice of Filipinos seeking better opportunities abroad for their families and for our country but this administration is not stopping to look for ways to keep them home by aiming at a strong economy generating well-paying jobs."

Bunye noted there had been significant changes since the survey had been taken such as the implementation of the expanded value-added tax law and the strengthening of the peso due to the overseas Filipino workers’ remittances.

According to the survey, 23 percent believe that the country is "hopeless," a jump from 11 percent in July. On the other hand, 54 percent disagreed while 23 percent were undecided.

More Filipinos also now say that they would migrate to another country if given the opportunity, up from 26 percent in July to 33 percent in October.

Thirty-seven percent preferred to stay, but this is lower than the 52 percent in July, while the number of those undecided rose from 21 percent in July to 30 percent.

"Further analyses indicate an association between the perception that the country is hopeless and intention to migrate," Pulse Asia noted.

Most of those who feel the country is hopeless want to jump ship (56 percent) while most of those who remain hopeful prefer to stay and wait it out (54 percent).

"Intention to migrate is higher among the better-qualified sectors and among the youth-urbanites (40 percent), class ABC (49 percent), the 18- to 24-year-olds (45 percent) and those with some college preparation or completed college (46 and 49 percent, respectively)," Pulse Asia added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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