Outstanding alumni from Adamson honored at Malacañang with national awards

Date Posted: January 11, 2013 at 01:57 PM


Two alumni from Adamson University’s Chemical Engineering program recently received awards from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) for their achievements and contributions as Filipinos abroad.


Engr. Mary Jane Alvero Al-Mahdi and Engr. Rosaldo De Castro, both from BS Chemical Engineering class of 1991, were among the recipients of this year’s Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas. Engr. Al-Mahdi received the Pamana ng Pilipino Award, given to Filipinos overseas who exemplify the talent and industry of the Filipino and have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession. Engr. De Castro received the Banaag Award together with Engr. Al-Mahdi for the Filipino Digerati Association, the group they established in the United Arab Emirates to reach out to their fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE and provide them with skills training to boost their chances of getting better jobs. The Banaag Award was given to the Filipino Digerati Association for their “outstanding service or contribution resulting in benefits to a particular sector of Filipino community overseas.” The impact, success, or effectiveness of Digerati’s contributions was among the factors that were considered in giving the award to them.


The awarding ceremonies were held at Malacañang Palace last December 5, 2012, with no less than President Benigno Aquino III handing the awards to the honorees. The ceremony took place during the Month of Overseas Filipinos, created more than 20 years ago by former President Corazon Aquino as a tribute to Filipinos based or working outside the country and to encourage them to participate in the development of the country. The recipients of the award were also feted at a thanksgiving cocktail by the CFO last December 3 at the AIM Bistro in Makati City.


This is the second award that Engr. Al-Mahdi, chief executive officer of Geoscience Testing Laboratory in Dubai, has received in Malacañang. She was honored in 2009 with the Bagong Bayani Most Outstanding Employee and the Blas F. Ople Para Sa Natatanging Bayani awards in recognition of her leadership and achievements as an OFW. The awards, given by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, were handed to Engr. Al-Mahdi by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


The multi-awarded Al-Mahdi says receiving awards feels rather normal now, but these keep her challenged. “There is a purpose for each award,” she says. With her first presidential award, she realized that she should do more; with the latest award, she feels more compelled to work even harder and become more involved in serving the community. The award has also given her stronger confidence and a more fervent desire to help her fellow Filipinos in the UAE. 


As for De Castro, a trainer at Filipino Digerati and works as regional manager for Patcham FZC, receiving the Banaag Award feels “overwhelming.” Filipino Digerati began in 2007 in humble ways with nine founders (including Al-Mahdi), one Emirati adviser, five volunteers, and no funds. Today the association takes in over a thousand students every semester and has seen nearly 15,000 Filipino expats graduate from its various courses. They now have around 200 volunteers and more than 70 trainers, and have expanded their course offerings to include advanced computer skills like Flash animation, networking, and graphic design, project management, business etiquette, and professional development. The association also has branches now in Sharjah, Ajman, Deira, Al Karama, and Al Ain. Earning a national recognition for their efforts in helping their fellow Filipinos in the UAE has become a source of pride and motivation for him. “Nandun ang spirit of voluntarism,” De Castro says of Digerati’s efforts. “You’re really proud to be Filipino.”


Pride also swells within Mohammed Al-Mahdi, adviser for Filipino Digerati and husband of Engr. Al-Mahdi. He is particularly proud of the fact that Filipino Digerati does not just teach—its trainers see to it that their students and members can demonstrate marked improvement in their skills and abilities. He is also proud that they are able to provide training and education for just a minimal amount when other institutions offer the same courses but with expensive tuition.


The awards that Al-Mahdi and De Castro have received are proof that Adamsonians carry the seeds of service and charity to others well beyond their student years. It also serves as proof that the Filipinos remain vital to the world with their professionalism and drive to help. Yael Esperat

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