Feature: Vigan native is a Banaag Awardee of 2012 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas

By Maria Nila Argel, PIA 1, Ilocos Sur


VIGAN CITY, December 12 (PIA) – Lawyer Imelda Argel of this city is one of the 13 Banaag Awardees of the 2012 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas.

Argel is the second of four children of the late Court of First Instance Judge Manuel Argel and Deputy Commissioner of the Land Registration Commission Paz Lahoz of this city. She is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the High Court of Australia, and Attorney at Law in the Philippines and in the State of New York, USA.

In conferring the Banaag Award to Argel, the President recognizes her contributions and commitment in advocating for the mutual recognition of skills and qualifications for Filipino migrants in Australia, according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).

Among her outstanding contributions to fellow Filipinos is, during her practice, the highest number of working visas for overseas Filipino registered nurses in Sydney was attained. Also a 90 percent success rate of visa grants for various catergories and nationalaities since 1996. And a 95 percent rate of success for appeals with the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT).

As para-legal in Australia she submitted “The Philippine Country Education Profile” to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration of the Australian Federal Parliament which led to the amendment of the existing Philippine Country Education Profile in 2006. because of this migrants who passed the Professional Regulation Commission Board licensure examinations in the Philippines were fully recognized as employable in Australia.

To help fellow Pinoys in Australia she discusses migration issues as regular contributor of the Philippine Community Herald since 1998. She also anchors an SBS radio talk-back program. She authored the on line “Time Saving Immigration Practice Solutions on General Skilled Migration” that give migration advice particularly visa matters, and that upgrade migration office practices.

Her networking ability resulted in the forging of partnerships between Australian government educational institutions such as the New South Wales Technical and Further Education (NSW-TAFE)-South Western Sydney Institute. This ushered the conduct of NSW-TAFE courses in the Philippines which helps Pinoy students get local education accredited under the Australian system.

When she migrated to Australia with her nine-year old son in 1988 she worked during day and studied at night to be admitted as a Solicitor of New South Wales and get her Masters of Law from the University of Sydney. This is despite her 15 years practicing law in the Philippines. In 1994 she established her own practice focusing on immigration, conveyancing, commercial contracts, wills and probate.

Her very high standards of ethics, competence and integrity helped her to be appointed as one of the few Evaluators of the Continuing Professinal Development (CPD) by the Migration Agents Registration Authority of Australia.

The first Filipino Australian Women’s Achievement Award for Corporate Practice and Entrepreneurship in New South Wales was given to her in 2006. The University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Australia-New South Wales made her the first Outstanding Alumni Achievement Awardee for Law and Community Service in 2008.

Conferred by President Benigno Aquino III, the Banaag Award is given to Filipino individuals or associations that advanced the cause of, or have benefited significantly overseas Filipino communities or sectors, according to the CFO. The ceremony was held on December 5 in Malacanang Palace in observance of Overseas Filipino Month and Migrants Day.

The Banaag awardees have outstanding or significant service or contribution resulting in benefits to a particular sector of Filipino community overseas. The success, impact, or effectiveness of this contribution has proven to be useful – be it in the form of personal or professional service, financial or material contribution or technology.

The President on his address to the awardees said that our country is blessed with talents and,”whether homegrown or raised abroad, the people in our presence today have become true ambassadors of the Filipino peple.” He also noted that Pinoys are united in the spirit of Bayanihan. “That the true measure of our humanity is defined not by what we have built alone but rather by what we have received in solidarity with our people and the government.”

Praising the 13 awardees, narrating the helpful moments of three-time Grammy Award winner Allan Pineda of the Black Eyed Peas for the victims of typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro City, he said that many of the awardees chose to take their successes forward by taking part in nation building.

Acknowledging the many Pinoys working in various countries, the President said that Filipinos all over the world are fighting together in this constant quest for excellence so that ‘we may fulfill the collective aspirations of our people. The common aspirations of Filipinos comes to the fore, empowering citizenry fighting for the rights of Filipino migrant workers, and making certain that our culture and heritage has the rightful mark in global freedom.’

He also urged the awardees to strengthen the Filipino anchorage in their roots, and to help the storm Pablo victims, ‘uniting in the spirit of Bayanihan which has pushed the country against any adversity.’

The Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas is a biennial awards institutionalized since 1991. It honors and recognizes overseas individuals and groups who have been a source of pride and have given outstanding contributions to the betterment of the Philippines and Filipino communities in the Philippines and abroad. #