They could be people you know in your community or parish, your neighbors, or even your friends. If you know of a young individual or an organization doing great work in the community to improve the lives of others, then you could help give them the chance to shine.

The Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino Awards North America is now accepting nominations for modern-day heroes – everyday people making the world a better place to live in for others.

Past winners of Bayaning Pilipino include Pusong Pinoy, a group that started with family and friends wanting to make a difference, one book at a time. At present, Pusong Pinoy is now a force of 83,000 heroes worldwide trying to make a difference, one book, one meal, one piece of clothing at a time.

There is also the Toronto-based Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture – where they create a safe space for Filipino-Canadian youth to explore their identity and improve self-confidence, inspiring and empowering them to realize their full potential.

Pusong Pinoy donates gently used books to help marginalized kids learn and appreciate reading.

At TFC’s 20th anniversary gala in 2014, three other organizations were also recognized as Bayaning Pilipino: (1) The Carolina Medical Mission (CMM), from North Carolina – provides free medical, dental, ophthalmic, and surgical services to the many disadvantaged, health-impaired individuals in rural areas of the Philippines; (2) The Filipino-American Community Development Center (FCDC) of Toms River, NJ – contributes to society through giving and serving; (3) and Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK) Inc. – aims to bridge the cultural, generational, and social gaps found both in and outside of the Filipino-Canadian community in Winnipeg.

Volunteer doctors of Carolina Medical Mission (CMM) offer free surgical services in the Philippines.
The children and teens of the Filipino-American Community Development Center (FCDC) of New Jersey get to enrich and appreciate Filipino values and tradition through their F.A.C.E.S. (Filipino-American Cultural Enrichment School).
Aksiyon Ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK) preserves Filipino-Canadian heritage and culture through resources like books.

The Gawad Bayaning Pilipino Awards screening committee is looking for the next generation of heroes across North America (in the U.S. and in Canada). With the current state of affairs around the world, and within the North America region, it is important to find inspiration and greatness within one’s immediate society. Kevin Seldon writes in his article, The Biggest Problem in America, for The Huffington Post that the main issue “isn’t gun control or the state of our education system or health care… it’s APATHY.” It is therefore a benevolent act, perhaps even necessary, to look around and find positive, optimistic individuals or groups whom one could identify with, emulate, or join.

Seldon adds, “At the end of the day, the truth is that it doesn’t really matter what cause you choose, it matters that you care about it and that you stand up.” And that is what modern-day heroes do. They demonstrate an unstoppable courage and a dogged optimism in the pursuit of their interest or venture. It could be actions to address climate change, or how to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, or taking steps to engage in meaningful dialogue, helping others get an education, doing medical missions, building houses, promoting the appreciation for one’s culture and heritage, any small or big act that builds bridges, instead of walls.

The Bayaning Pilipino Awards is looking for heroes who demonstrate the Filipino values of humanitarianism, industry, determination and dedication to public service. It is intended to hold in high public esteem “existing heroes who have rendered service to the Filipino people.”

Nominations are being accepted for these two categories: (1) Global Bayaning Pilipino (organization); and (2) Bayaning PIlipinong Kabataan sa America (Youth Heores) – a new category specifically targeted to young people doing good.

Young people today have the fire and the passion to pursue activities that foster community-building. In her feature, The 10 Most Critical Problems in the World, According to Millennials published in The Business Insider, Tanza Loudenback says “Despite the dire state of the world today — and the stereotype that millennials are selfish and apathetic — the generation aged 18 to 35 cares deeply about global issues, and they’re determined to tackle them. North American millennials (21.8%) are most concerned with lack of education around the world.” This is evident in the work that various organizations and individuals help with.

And so, it is time to look around and see who are the organizations and young individuals quietly doing meaningful work in the community. Now is the time to shine the spotlight on them, to inspire many more to become heroes in their own little or big ways.

Winners for the Organization and Youth categories will get the chance to join the Regional and National Awarding Ceremonies in the U.S. and in the Philippines this year. Deadline to submit nominations is on February 15, 2017.