The University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) chose to give only one distinction during its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards. UPAA honored all health frontliners from UP for “their heroic service to the Filipino nation in its hour of direst need, the coronavirus pandemic that ravaged the world in 2020 and which continues to this day.”
In a virtual program on December 11, 2021, Philippine General Hospital Director Gerardo Legaspi represented the 4,600 employees of the hospital. The Philippine Nurses Association President Melbert Reyes responded, representing UP’s allied medical practitioners. UPLB Artist-in-Residence Luis Enano “Junyee” Yee Jr. designed this year’s UPAA Distinguished Alumni Award trophy, with UP Professor Emeritus Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. writing the citation.
Legaspi said PGH had treated more than 7,300 moderate to severe cases as a COVID-19 referral center.
“Having only this award for 2020 is intended to highlight the immeasurable value of their achievement during this severe national crisis and their commitment to the UP tradition of excellence and service even at great personal risk,” UPAA Board Secretary Pacita Gavino said.
The citation recognized the awardees “for giving freely of their expertise in whatever capacity and to their utmost ability to alleviate the suffering of their fellow human beings at great personal risk and cost above and beyond the call of duty.” It added that “No finer example of honor and excellence can be found than the patriotic dedication and professional competence that these thousands of UP health frontliners all over the world exhibited during the crisis.”
The awards ceremony featured tributes to the awardees by UPAA President and UP Regent Reynaldo Laserna, UPAA 2nd Vice President Romy Nones, UP President Danilo Concepcion; and the UP Symphony Orchestra performing with the UP Madrigal Singers, UP Concert Chorus, UP Staff Chorale, Auit Vocal Ensemble, and other artists from UP.
The Department of Science and Technology Bamboo Rondalla performed the national anthem, and UPAA Treasurer Director Amroussi Rasul recited doxologies. UP Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Wendell Capili was the master of ceremonies. TVUP produced the program under the direction of Prof. Grace Javier Alfonso.
The UPAA Distinguished Alumni Awards used to be the highlight of the annual UPAA Grand Alumni Homecoming and Reunion, which has been postponed in the wake of the pandemic.