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Migrant worker becomes first Filipino to win ‘Spirit of Hong Kong’ award

27 November 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Villar cradling her 'Lion Rock' trophy

She’s made it.

Rodelia Pedro Villar, “nanay” to tens of thousands of Filipino domestic workers who are members of the group, Domestic Workers Corner, won the “Lion Rock: People’s Choice Award” in this year’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards.

Six individuals and one group made up the list of winners in the contest organized by  Hong Kong’s leading English-language daily, South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group, to honor community achievers.

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The names of the winners were announced Thursday, although they had been pre-selected previously from among hundreds of nominees.

Villar, who used to contribute articles to The SUN, is the first Filipino to win the award.

“Isang malaking karangalan po ito sa akin bilang first Filipino to be nominated, at (maging) winner. Hindi ko po ito mararating kung wala ang suporta ng bawat miyembro ng DWC,” she said.

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 (It is a great honor to be the first Filipino to be nominated, and to win the award. I wouldn’t have done it without the support of every member of DWC)

Villar also thanked the Philippine Consulate for affirming her group’s work, and various non-government organizations that guided and supported their advocacy. In particular, she thanked PathFinders, an NGO that helps migrant women and their children, for nominating her for the award.

The other winners were:

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Spirit of Teamwork Award: HandsOn Hong Kong

Spirit of Community Award: Lau Kim-hung, a stroke survivor who helps others recover and get back on their feet.

Spirit of Perseverance Award: Yip Cham-kai, a polio victim who has done far-reaching community work

Spirit of Innovation Award: Professor Philip Chiu Wai-yan, who uses robots he built to treat cancer;

Tunghayan ang isa na namang klwentong Dream Love

Spirit of Culture Award: Ken Ho Chung-man, who writes musicals and teaches adults living with intellectual disabilities to perform;

Spirit of Youth Award: Saad Hemyar Hussein Abdo Ayedh, who has worked for the empowerment of ethnic minority members.

Villar, as Lion Rock People’s Choice awardee, won through online voting by SCMP’s readers.

Villar and fellow DWC admin Baby Jean de Leon during a recent fund-raising drive for flood victims in Phl

In a tribute to the winners, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she had seen benevolence and generosity in all their work.

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“They reveal the true spirit of Hong Kong and I am confident that [acts like these] will take Hong Kong through the current difficult times and enable us to overcome any challenge in the future,” she said.

Anna Wu Hung-yuk, chairwoman of the judging panel, said the awardees dared go beyond their limitations.

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“They selflessly lead by example and demonstrate the true spirit of Hong Kong,” she said at the virtual event.

Villar, 42, and married, started DWC on Facebook in 2017 in her desire to connect instantly with her fellow Filipino domestic workers, especially newcomers who needed help adjusting to life in Hong Kong.

Over time, what started as an initiative to help new migrant workers cope with cooking Chinese food morphed into several sub-groups, including “DWC Help” which tackles hard issues faced by workers; “DWC Learning and Social Group” which provides tutorials on various subjects; and Villar’s personal “DWC Lovely Corner”.

But their work has gone beyond holding hands with timid migrants. Led by Villar, they have done volunteer work for the Consulate and its attached agency, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.

Their most recent community involvement was raising cash and goods donations to the victims of two powerful typhoons in the Philippines. DWC raised more than $70,000 cash for the victims, and sent them about 30 boxes filled with clothes and grocery items. 

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