Five Filipino pageant winners, including 2012 Miss Universe first runner-up Janine Tugonon made it to the Pinoy Abroad section's list of top 12 Filipino achievers for 2012.
Rounding up the list are international singing sensations Jessica Sanchez and "Random Girl" Zendee Rose and boxing greats Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire.
The top achiever on our list, however, is relatively unknown -- 13-year-old Kesz Valdez, who won the 2012 International Children’s Peace Prize for his work to improve the lives of his fellow street children.
Here are the top 12 Pinoy Achievers for 2012:
(1) Cris "Kesz" Valdez
13-year-old Kesz Valdez wins 2012 International Children's Peace Prize
In September last year, 13-year-old Kesz Valdez was named an awardee of the International Children's Peace Prize.
Valdez won for his work as head of a charity organization that educates and hands out gifts to thousands of youngsters in his poverty-plagued hometown.
South African human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu gave Valdez his award, declaring him a "voice for the voiceless" and a "true inspiration".
Valdez is the first southeast Asian to receive the International Children's Peace Prize. He was also the youngest among the three finalists nominated for the recognition. The two others were Amina,15, of Ghana and Anwara,16, of the West Bengal region of India.
Valdez dedicated his award to his guardian Harnin Manalaysay, who cared for him after running away from his family due to abuse and maltreatment.
During his acceptance speech, Valdez likened one of his experiences of maltreatment — being scorched in a pile of garbage — to a "baptism of fire."
"The day I suffered the burns on my body was like my baptism of fire. It was so painful that night at the dumpsite, the hospital and the days that followed. I cried out of pain. On the other hand, that was also the day I was rescued," he said of his ordeal.
"The fire that burned my skin and flesh is the same fire that started a flame in my soul. A flame that would warm cold hearts, a flame that would shed light to the path of the lost, a flame that would spark hope, lighting an entire sea of darkness and desperation. Mr. Harnin, the father I look up to, taught me these principles and keeps on reminding me daily by his own life's example," he added.
(2) Janine Mari Tugonon
Miss PHL named first runner-up in Miss Universe 2012
In December, Miss Philippines placed second in the Miss Universe pageant held Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in Las Vegas.
This is the closest the country has come to winning the crown since Miriam Quiambao in 1999.
This is the third year in a row that a Filipina has been in the Top Five of the Miss Universe pageant.
In 2011, Miss Philippines candidate Shamcey Supsup was the third runner-up in the Miss Universe competition held in São Paulo, Brazil. The crown was brought home by 26-year-old Angola stunner Leila Lopes.
The previous year, Bicol beauty Maria Venus Raj, who was 25 years old during the competition, ended up in fourth place. The crown was bagged by Mexican Ximena Navarrete in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(3) Rep. Manny Pacquiao
After loss, Manny Pacquiao ready to fight again
Saranggani Rep. and “People’s Champ” Manny Pacquiao might have lost to Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez during their fourth fight in December, but the man’s place as a Filipino icon apparently cannot be swayed.
'You're still our champ!'
This was the message of Filipino fans to boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao as he returned home early Wednesday following his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
Many Filipinos waited for Pacquiao outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to cheer him upon his arrival in the Philippines after the fight.
Pacquiao thanked his countrymen for their support despite his loss, and said that he had become emotional after learning that many Filipinos wept upon his defeat.
"Talagang ganoon ang buhay natin. We'll rise again," he said to loud cheers from the crowd shortly after arriving in Manila.
ESPN even called the fourth Pacquaio-Marquez match its Fight of the Year.
(4) Nonito Donaire
Donaire named Boxer of the Year by ESPN
ESPN, one of the world’s most popular television sports networks, named "Filipino Flash" Nonito Donaire as their selection for Boxer of the Year, in an article by Dan Rafael, in December.
"It might sound strange, but no, Manny Pacquiao was not the best fighter from the Philippines in 2012. That honor goes to 'The Filipino Flash,' junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire, who had a year for the ages," Rafael wrote.
Donaire had moved up to junior featherweight at the start of the year and showed no ill effects, "winning all four of his fights in dominant fashion," the last being a third round KO, courtesy of a devastating left hook, of Mexican Jorge Arce last December 15 (December 16, PHL time).
The Filipino was also cited for his strong anti-performance-enhancing drugs stance, coming to terms with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which allows the group to randomly test him for steroids at any time, whether or not he is training for a fight.
(5) Jessica Sanchez
Sanchez is first runner-up in American Idol Season 11
Filipinos went wild when Filipino-American-Mexican singer Jessica Sanchez was named the runner-up of the mega-hit singing competition American Idol in May 2012.
From then on, Sanchez’s career has gone far, including singing during the fight of Saranggani Rep. and “People’s Champ” Manny Pacquiao in June against American boxer Timothy Bradley in June, and as well as performing for Filipinos during the Manila leg of the American Idol concert in September.
(6) 11 Pinoys in London 2012 Olympics
11 Pinoys hope for Olympic glory in London
Eleven of the country’s best athletes all attempted to sought gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
The athletes were: Jhessie Khing Lacuna (Swimming), Jasmine Alkhaldi (Swimming), Marestella Torres (Athletics), Rene Herrera (Athletics), Paul Brian Rosario (Shooting), Tomohiko Hoshina (Judo), Hidilyn Diaz (Weight lifting), Daniel Caluag (Cycling), Rachel Ann Cabral (Archery), Mark Javier (Archery), and Mark Anthony Barriga (Boxing)
The Philippines first sent athletes to compete at the quadrennial Games in 1924. Since then, the country has amassed nine medals, two silver and seven bronze. However, no Philippine athlete has made the trip to the podium since 1996.
For the 2012 Games in London, the Philippines sent 11 athletes: the country’s smallest delegation yet. The small contingent prompted Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Mark Aeron Sambar push for the creation of a new Department of Sports.
The members of the group recorded as the smallest delegation the Philippines has ever sent were unable to attain their quest for gold, but that did not make the country’s pride for them lessen at all.
(7) Rizzini Alexis Gomez
Cebuana beauty closes 2012 by winning Miss Tourism Int'l 2012
Rizzini Alexis Gomez ended 2012 with a bang and kicked off 2013 on a high note for the Philippines after she was named Miss Tourism International 2012 on December 31.
Gomez bested over 50 candidates from other countries in the pageant held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
She won Mutya ng Pilipinas 2012 Tourism and represented the Philippines in the international pageant.
Aside from the crown, the 22-year-old also bagged the award for best in evening gown.
(8) Zendee Rose
“Random girl” rises to stardom
Zendee Rose Tenerefe, who earned the nickname "Random girl" after a video of her singing in a mall became viral on the Internet in 2012, rose to stardom and gained fame even more after, among other ventures, becoming a guest on the hit TV show "Ellen" in the United States in October.
There, she mentioned of dreaming of becoming a famous singer so that she could improve their family’s living conditions and send her cousins to school.
She caught the media's attention when a mall passerby recorded her on a camera phone singing an impromptu but "performance-level" rendition of Broadway torch song "And I'm Telling You" outside a store that sells videoke equipment, and posted the video on YouTube.
Posted in July, the video became viral and now has 2,271,468 hits.
Zendee Rose now guests on GMA Network television programs like “Party Pilipinas” and “Manny Many Prizes.”
(9) Andrew Wolff
Andrew Wolff clinches second place in the Mr. World competition
The Philippines’ contestant in the Mr. World competition, Filipino-British rugby player and model Andrew Wolff, came in second during the finale in Kent, England, in November.
According to the contest’s website, Columbia’s 21-year-old entry Francisco Javier Escobar Parra, was the night’s big winner as he was declared Mr. World 2012. Ireland’s Leo Delaney came in third.
Wolff won the Mr. World Multimedia award “with his energetic and engaging creations on his social media pages. He was deemed to have created the most exciting, informative and inventive news stories.”
(10) Kevin Balot
Transgender woman Kevin Balot crowned Miss International Queen 2012
A 21-year-old transgender beauty from the Philippines — Kevin Balot — was crowned "Miss International Queen 2012" in Thailand's seaside resort Pattaya in November.
One Filipino fan said that winning a transvestite contest in Thailand, the land of "lady boys," was like winning a soccer tournament in Brazil. An emotional Balot told reporters that she hoped the win would help her gain acceptance from her father.
"I'm very proud to be first here, and I hope my dad will accept me. Because in the family I'm the only boy, and my dad has big expectations of me. I made it. I won the International Queen Pageant, and I believe that my dad will accept me not only as his son but also as his daughter," she said.
(11) June Macasaet
June Macasaet named winner of the Manhunt International pageant
In November, model June Macasaet emerged as the winner in the Manhunt International 2012 male pageant in Bangkok, Thailand, besting more than 50 contestants to become the 16th winner of the contest and the first Filipino to claim the title.
“Congratulations June Macasaet from the Philippiines! You now join the elite group of Manhunt International winners as the 16th winner. We hope you will work hard to prove yourself worthy of the title. Well done. Your journey starts tonight,” a post from Manhunt International’s official Facebook page said.
Macasaet’s victory came a week after a Pinoy transgender, Kevin Balot, was crowned the winner in a pageant hosted also in Thailand.
(12) Carlito Floro Rosadino Jr.
Carlito Floro Rosadino Jr. wins 2 awards in Gay World competition
A Filipino bagged two awards in the Mr. Gay World competition in South Africa in April.
Carlito Floro Rosadino Jr. won the best national costume award for his sarimanok-inspired outfit, complete with a gold headdress and mechanical wings on the finals night of the competition held in Johannesburg.
The 27-year-old representative of the Philippines was also chosen as one of the Top 10 finalists.
He likewise won the People’s Choice Award after besting 21 other competitors in terms of online votes.
- VVP, GMA News