7 people at award ceremony
From left, Laurie Libarios, counselor; Emme Tomimbang, alumni; Imelda Gasmen, Filipino language instructor; Raymund Liongson, Philippine studies coordinator and professor; Leon Florendo, Waiʻanae Moku counselor, Carlos Peñaloza, chancellor and Ernie Libarios, retired counselor.

Two Leeward Community College faculty members were recognized for Excellence in Education at the FilCom Center’s 17th annual Bayanihan Gala in October.

Raymund Liongson was honored for four decades of unwavering dedication to his students. The other award went to the non-profit Sariling Gawa Youth Council. Leon Florendo, counselor at Leeward’s Waiʻanae Moku and the councilʻs president, received the award on the group’s behalf.

Decades of dedication

Raymund Liongson, Philippine studies professor and program coordinator, has been an educator for more than 40 years. His philosophy emphasizes learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, aiming for student and social transformation. Liongson has won an array of awards and recognition for his efforts, from being named a Wo Learning Champion to being awarded the Hawaiʻi Plantation Legacy Award and Outstanding Educator awards from both the Oahu Filipino Community Council and the United Filipino Council of Hawaiʻi, among others.

Liongson has written and coordinated grants that have raised millions of dollars to help students of Filipino ancestry. He has organized youth groups and program initiatives that have inspired students to excel and attain higher education.

His Philippine studies classes spearheaded the student involvement for the Hawaiʻi Promise program at the Legislature, complete with sign waving and testimonies. Liongson said, “As a professor, I do not see myself simply teaching course content. More importantly, I see my role as inspiring my students to aim high and providing them the needed support to hit the mark or at least land close to it.”

Sariling Gawa Youth Council

The Sariling Gawa Youth Council is a nonprofit organization that fosters cultural awareness, nurtures ethnic pride and empowers youth to develop leadership skills.

Starting as a grassroots effort in 1980, the council was first organized by a group of college students during the 75th anniversary of Filipinos in Hawaiʻi. For more than 39 years, thousands of young Filipinos and community members have experienced hands-on training and skills building, allowing young people to be empowered as leaders, mentors, organizers, administrators and role models.

Florendo said, “Sariling Gawa embarked on a movement, a change of socio-political mindset that nurtures and understands the immense value of empowering individuals in their quest for better understanding of their strengths while surrounded by a cadre of supportive mentors who are always grounded in humanity and progressive ideas.”