ore than 20 years ago, former President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 276 declaring December of every year as “Month of Overseas Filipinos” as a tribute for overseas Filipinos to encourage their participation in the development activities in the country. Recognizing the significant role of overseas Filipinos in national development, the Philippine government, through the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) conducted various activities to honor overseas Filipinos for their exemplary achievements and contributions. One of these activities is the CFO Awards which were conferred by President Aquino to 36 overseas Filipino individuals and organizations in 1991.
In the same year, President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 498 institutionalizing the awards, naming it the Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas. The Executive Order specifically designated the CFO and the Department of Foreign Affairs to develop an awards system for Filipino individuals and organizations overseas who have contributed significantly in promoting the well-being of our people, and supporting the country’s development efforts.
The Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas is a biennial awards system that give recognition to Filipinos and other individuals or organizations which contribute to Philippine development initiatives, or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities. The awards are also given to overseas Filipinos who have exceptionally distinguished themselves in their work or profession, and have thereby brought honor to the Filipino nation. A distinct category in the awards is also reserved for foreign individuals or organizations for their exceptional contribution to the Philippines and for advancing the cause of overseas Filipino communities.
Since inception, the awards have already been bestowed upon 437 Filipino individuals and organization overseas from 49 countries and territories. President Fidel V. Ramos conferred the first and second clusters of Presidential Awards on 22 and 45 awardees in 1993 and 1996, respectively. President Joseph E. Estrada conferred the third and fourth clusters of Presidential Awards on 30 and 59 awardees in 1998 and 2000, respectively. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth clusters of Presidential Awards on 34 (with one special citation), 45, 48, and 31 awardees, in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008, respectively. President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the ninth, tenth and eleventh clusters of Presidential Awards on 24, 29, and 33 awardees, in 2010, 2012, and 2014, respectively.
Beyond their recognizable contribution to humanity, the awardees also reinforce faith and confidence in the Filipino nation. They have given meaning to Filipino excellence and the time-honored values of pakikipagkapwa, pagtutulungan, and pagkakaisa.