Top 10 Successful Filipinos Abroad
Filipinos take pride in their hard work and creativity. These ten outstanding Filipinos set out to make names for themselves around the world, armed with vision, resourcefulness, and fearless determination. Today, their world-class achievements stand as proof that, at home and abroad, the Filipino has what it takes to succeed. Worthy of praise, source of inspiration.
Loida Nicolas Lewis is a lawyer by profession, a businesswoman, an author, a philanthropist, and an active leader of the Filipino community in the United States. She was honored as the first Filipino as well as the first woman to be inducted into the Asian Hall of Fame in Seattle.
She is one of the richest Filipinas living outside the Philippines. Business executive, chairwoman and chief executive officer of TLC Beatrice LLC and TLC Beatrice China and Philippines, she is on the board of directors at TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc., a conglomerate of 64 companies in 31 countries.
Josie Natori is the founder and chief executive officer of the Natori Company, a US$500-million New York-based corporation dealing with the design and manufacture of women's fashion and accessories.
In 1977, with no experience in fashion and manufacturing, she began her fashion empire selling hand-embroidered nightshirts at Bloomingdale's. She worked out of her living room at first, then eventually set up her first design shop cum showroom from an 11,000 square-foot loft on 34th Street. She went full scale into designing and manufacturing lingerie and quickly became known for the signature detailing, embroidery and applique work which she brought from her native Philippines to the international market.
Sonny Ungco is one of the most successful entrepreneurs and international Filipino businessmen in the United States. Together with his siblings and parents, he established the Port Jersey Shipping International Inc. and pioneered the Balikbayan Box door to door service in 1982.
He has held high-ranking positions in several civic organizations, such as: Co-Founder and President of the San Antonio Youth Group in 1967; member of the De La Salle Alumni Association – East Coast; Co-Founder, President, and Board of Directors for the Coalition to Help Street Children, Inc.; and Philippine American Friendship Committee Inc. (PAFCOM) Co-Chairman and Master of Ceremonies for festivities.
His achievements in the field of business have earned him several awards, including: Production Executive of the Year (1973-1974); Marketing Adviser of the Year (1977, 1978, and 1979); Production Adviser of the Year (1978 and 1979); Leadership in Business (2006) by The Senate & General Assembly; Leadership Award in Business (2006) by the Pan American Concerned Citizens Action League; Most Outstanding Leadership Award (2007); and several others.
Diane Monique Lhuillier is a leading bridal couturier and Filipino fashion designer based in the United States. Monique Lhuillier was born of French and Cebuano descent and came from a prominent family in Philippine high society. The Lhuillier family owns a chain of pawnshops currently operating in more than a hundred cities in the Philippines.
A favorite among top fashion stylists and editors, Lhuillier has dressed many celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Meg Ryan, Britney Spears, Sharon Stone, and Teri Hatcher. Others, like Sarah Jessica Parker, Janet Jackson, Jessica Simpson, Tyra Banks, Megan Mullally and Debra Messing (stars of Will and Grace), Marg Helgenberger (of CSI), Natalie Imbruglia, Jennifer Connelly and Mariah Carey, have also been seen wearing her creations.
Rozita Villanueva Lee was born in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. In 1929, her father Eugenio Villanueva immigrated from Pangasinan to Hawaii as part of the recruited labor force for the Hawaii plantations. Rozita’s professional work has taken her from the Canadian Pacific Airlines industry in Hawaii, to PBS Television, to Nevada. She has been Vice-President of Nevada Economic Development Company, Special Assistant to the Governor of Nevada, Co-Founder of the Asian Pacific Forum, Asian Chamber of Commerce, NaFFAA (Las Vegas, Nevada), and President and CEO of her own company, Drums of the Island.
She was able to successfully coordinate national conferences for minority business entrepreneurs, rallies for political events, fund raising, workshops and seminars. She has also motivated Filipino youth to form the Philippine American Youth Organization and has acted as an adviser to UNLV Filipino Student Association. Her advocacy for the Asian Pacific American and Filipino population in particular has taken her to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles. She has spoken about Asian Pacific American concerns and issues at various APA and Filipino meetings and conferences held by NaFFAA, the Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies (APAICS), and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). In 1995, she was named to the Nevada Clark County Asian American Commission, receiving numerous awards and certificates of appreciation from many organizations.
Born on January 31, 1957 in Kalibo, Aklan, Dr. Peter L. Yu was brought up in Tokyo, Japan. He was only 22 months old when his father assumed the post of legal officer for the Philippine Reparations Commission. He went back to the Philippines at the age of 11. He was accepted as a University scholar at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and graduated youngest in his class on March 31, 1979 at the age of 22. In 1982, he passed the U.S. Federal Licensing Examination in New York.
Dr. Yu has been the President of the Indiana Philippine Medical Association since 2007. He is a former president of the Philippine American Physiatry Association (1999-2001). He was also Chairman of the Philippine Centennial Celebration on June 12, 1998 for Northcentral Indiana and Southwest Michigan, where he showcased Philippine history, Philippine artistry and handicraft. He is a lecturer for the National Head Injury Foundation of America and the Arthritis Foundation of Greater Chicago, and a diplomat of the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners. He is licenced to practice medicine in the State of Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and in the Philippines. As well as being a member of several medical associations in the United States, he is on the Board of Directors of the UST Medical Alumni Association of America (2008-2010), the Board of Directors for the Asian American Medical Association, and a lifetime member of the Philippine Professional Association.
Dr. Yu has received numerous recognitions and awards from different medical organizations, acknowledging his notable contributions in the field of medicine here in the Philippines and in other countries as well.
Dr. Rosario B. Tigno was the first doctor from the Philippines to practice in the United Arab Emirates. Filipinos in Dubai refer to her as a medical beacon within the Filipino community and a doctor-at-large who is always on call whenever needed, exemplifying the bravery, industry and zeal of the Filipino migrant.
She was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and was able to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor by obtaining her medical degree from Manila Central University in 1972. She worked for four years in several hospitals in Iran, before going back to the Philippines and practicing medicine for more than 13 years. An opportunity came for her to be able to work again in Dubai. In 1992, she gained the distinction of being the first Filipino doctor to be issued a license by the Department of Health and Medical Services of Dubai. Since then, she has devoted herself to helping Filipinos there, especially the underprivileged.
Dr. Tigno founded the Filipino Health Care Provider in 1999, spearheaded medical missions and initiated "Share Blood, Spare A Life," a blood donation drive and information campaign. In recognition of Dr. Tigno’s notable achievement in the field of medicine and her service to the Filipino community in Dubai, she was chosen as one of the Ten Filipino Achievers in 2001 by the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Kho was born in Jimalalud, Negros Oriental in 1933 and pursued his dream to be a surgeon. He became an intern at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and spent another 2 years as surgical resident under the world-famous Dr. Mark M. Ravitch. He served as Associate in Pediatric Surgery, focusing his research on intestinal healing. In 1972, he received his surgical board certification in Scottsburg, Indiana.
In 1980, Dr. Kho voluntarily joined the US Army Reserve in gratitude to his adoptive country. From Major, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1981. He was then sent to Saudi Arabia as surgeon for Operation Desert Shield in 1990. He also went to Iraq to support the 1st Infantry Division. Due to his exemplary service as a medical officer, Dr. Kho has been awarded several medals for his war service to both the United States and the Emirate of Kuwait. One of these medals was the Philippine Economic and Cultural Endowment (PEACE) Humanitarian of the Year Award. He resumed his surgical practice and continued his Army service until his retirement from both of these in 2001. Upon his retirement from the Army, he was awarded the Army Meritorious Medal.
Cristeta Comerford is the current White House Executive Chef. She is the first woman to be selected for the post, and also the first of Filipino descent.
She attended the University of the Philippines, Diliman in Quezon City and majored in food technology. However, she did not earn her degree because she left school to immigrate to the United States at the age of 23. Her first job was at the Sheraton Hotel near O'Hare International Airport. She also worked at the Hyatt Regency hotel.
After Chicago, she moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as a chef at two restaurants. She also spent six months in Vienna, Austria as a rotating chef. Comerford was recruited by executive chef Walter Scheib III in 1995 to work in the Clinton White House.
Romeo V. Tabuena was born in 1921 in Iloilo City. He began his career with several exhibits of drawings and watercolors at the Philippine Art Gallery in 1949. He is best known for his watercolor, at times in a vertical format influenced by Chinese painting. He has another side to his art expressed in dark oil paintings, some of which seem to reflect the "proletarian" concerns of the period. He also approaches expressionism, especially in such work as "Childbirth". His creative output is much in demand and his paintings are in the collections of many well-known international art connoisseurs and museums.
Considered today as the most prominent living Filipino painter, acclaimed in both Europe and the Americas, he is listed in “Who’s Who in American Art.” He has resided in Mexico for the past two decades with his Norwegian wife Nina. He learned his craft with the AAP, at the Students’ Art League in New York, on a grand tour of Europe, and at the Academie de la Chaumiere in Paris.
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