Last April 8, 2006, 11 individuals with the noblest pair of hands in sign language interpreting have been applauded with the First Golden Hands Awards presented by the Philippine Association of Interpreters for Deaf Empowerment (PAIDE) under the supervision of its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Alfredo D. Celada, Jr., at the Bulwagang Gabaldon, Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan. Sign language interpreters from all over the archipelago together with some of their supportive friends and relatives have gathered to witness one of the most meaningful awarding ceremonies the country has ever produced.
The First Golden Hands Awards Night has been considered to be an event that brought sign language interpreting to a level worthy of respect. The 11 interpreters consisting of (in no particular order) Teresita D. Almayda, May G. Andrada, Antonia B. Blanca, Ma. Teresa B. Buenaventura, Alfredo D. Celada, Jr., Joy L. Cristal, Dolores Vince C. Dela Cruz, Beatriz O. Go, Sonia B. Lodado, Rebecca M. Santos and Carmen V. Rieza have been recognized for their more than 15 years of unselfish dedication to serve the deaf members of the community. Truly, their passionate service in interpreting at medical, legal, religious and educational fields have brought significant impact in the transformation of the deaf as an individual. It is comforting to know that an organization such as PAIDE have captured one special evening for them. "Thank you" has been quite a favorite expression used by the awardees after witnessing an audiovisual account of their accomplishments and after receiving their trophies. All, but one surprised awardee, Mr. Alfredo D. Celada, Jr. also known as "Sir Jun" added "This is not part of the plan" in his acceptance speech. The awardees each received a pair of golden hands trophy ( designed by Ms. Vivian Hipolito, an interior designer and president of the RIDERS) from Mr. Michael S. Putian and Mr. Alfredo D. Celada, Jr. and gifts from PAIDE.
Over 150 people, mostly dressed in their formal Filipiñana attire, have graced the ceremony hosted by Ms. Lee P. Britanico, yours truly, and Mr. Michael Nilo who shared his time doing the voice over. Special dance numbers in cultural context from a group of talented deaf adolescents and adults have kept the hearing audience in amazement. On the other hand, PAIDE, in its intense desire to create opportunities for its own interpreters, was able to produce talents from men and women like Nemia Abiday, Judith Delgado, Emelie Gentalian, Ludina Manalastas, Antonette Padilla, Marlon Palma, Ronald Santos and Michael Putian who presented a well choreographed artistic interpretation of different songs including "In Our Hands" that inspired everyone to utilize the power of each other's hands in molding lives. Ms. Caroline Valdez, an interpreting student, dedicated her song "Special Memory" to the awardees while Ms. Emelie Gentalian captivated the audience when she signed the song "Tunay na Mahal" with her expressive performance. The best moments have also been given by Michael, Marlon and Ronald when they serenaded the awardees that evening. The newsteam of GMA- 7 and the Philippine Star, in cooperation with Mr. John Constantino and Ms. Shiela Crisostomo respectively, featured the event in national television and local newspapers.
Some important people helped acknowledge the contribution of interpreters in the society. Dr. Salud Evangelista, Executive Director of the Catholic Ministry to Deaf People and Ms. Mirla R. Oroles, Chief Education Program Specialist of the Department of Education have been invited as guest speakers. The other special guests were Ms. Leticia V. Uy, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of PAIDE, Mr. Ricardo Delos Santos, Corporate Secretary and Sign Language Training Consultant of PAIDE, Dr. Catherine Tuazon, Board Member of PAIDE, Mr. Julius Andrada, President of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and Sir Jun's youngest sister, Ms. Sheila Marie C. Canlobo, a balikbayan from the United States of America.
More than the applause, cheers and glitter that spirited the First Golden Hands Awards night for the Filipino interpreters last April 8, this event marked the unparalleled ability of PAIDE as an organization that brings out the best among its members and constantly empowers interpreters all over the Philippines. PAIDE is, until this moment, the home to the best, skillful and reliable individuals who are willing to serve with honesty and dedication because of love for the craft of signing. It honors its core group members, Nemia H. Abiday, Eva R. Eva, Judith R. Delgado, Emelie C. Gentalian, Eva Marie D. Geonzon, Vivian O. Hipolito, Ludina B. Manalastas, Ma. Antonette U. Padilla and Michael S. Putian, for the success of the first ever Golden Hands Awards. They are PAIDE's own reserves of gold that will continue to shine on their finest through time. Congratulations to all!