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2022 Ramon Magsaysay Awards: For mental health, sight-saving humanitarian, children’s rights, anti-plastic pollution

The 2000 Ramon Magsaysay awardees (Photo courtesy of Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation)

The 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia's Nobel Prize, went to individuals for four types of advocacies (mental health, sight-saving humanitarian, children’s rights, and anti-plastic pollution).

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) on August 31 announced the winners online.

The first winner is Sotheara Chhim, a 54-year-old psychiatrist and mental health champion. He was praised for "his calm courage in surmounting deep trauma to become his people's healer."

He is a survivor of "the Khmer Rouge regime that killed nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork, and mass executions in the 1970s."

He helped people who endured the struggle under the Khmer Rouge, cited the Magsaysay Award organizers. 

He has been instrumental in localizing and enhancing the approach of addressing and healing those with mental health issues through "baksbat" (broken courage), a Cambodian trauma syndrome akin to post-traumatic stress disorder. 

RMAF honored him for his efforts in providing psychological and mental care to Cambodians at the grassroots level for more than 20 years through the Transcultural Psychosocial organization in Cambodia. 

While assisting others in their healing, I was also healing myself.

"I'm a victim of the Khmer Rouge, but working to help survivors of the Khmer Rouge helped me heal myself too," he said in an earlier interview.

Chhim "testified as an expert witness before a United Nations-backed tribunal trying senior Khmer Rouge leaders," reports ABS-CBN news.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award celebrates the greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia.

Since 1958, the Ramon Magsaysay Award has been bestowed upon over three hundred outstanding individuals and organizations whose selfless service has offered their societies, Asia, and the world successful solutions to some of the most challenging problems of human development.

The second winner is Japanese opthalmologist Tadashi Hattori, who provided free eye surgeries in Vietnam, where such specialists and facilities are limited. 

According to the Magsaysay Award foundation, his generosity was "the embodiment of individual social responsibility."

Hattori, a 58-year-old, is a sight-saving humanitarian. He is an ophthalmologist who has restored the vision of thousands of visually impaired patients in remote and disadvantaged areas of Vietnam.

"We honor him for his resolute commitment to helping thousands of Vietnamese people through his philanthropic medical efforts and for demonstrating the life-changing impact of dedicating one’s time, talent, and treasures to the service of others," the Magsaysay Award foundation said. 

The third winner is Bernadette J. Madrid, the Philippines’s children’s rights champion and physician.

Madrid, 64, was given the award for "her admirable commitment to championing the rights of the most vulnerable." 

She has been at the forefront of providing medical, legal, and psychosocial care to children and women who are victims of abuse.

The Ramon Magsaysay Foundation recognized her for her admirable commitment to championing the rights of the most vulnerable and for her transformative work in integrating child protection into the health infrastructure in the Philippines. 

The fourth winner is a promising young leader and anti-plastic pollution warrior, Gary Bencheghib, 27, for his endeavors to clean Indonesia's polluted waterways.

Bencheghib, a Frenchman, was given the award for his efforts to clean up polluted waterways in Indonesia, which he has adopted as a country.

Together with his brother, he constructed kayaks out of plastic bottles and bamboo to collect trash in the Citarum River, one of the world's most polluted rivers.

RMAF honored him with the emergent leadership award for his resilient work in addressing plastic pollution in his adopted country and for being an outstanding example of leadership transcending age and borders. 

The winners of the 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Award will attend an in-person ceremony honoring them to be held in Manila in November.

The winners for 2022 were announced on the 115th birthday of President Ramon Magsaysay, after whom the awards were named. He died in a plane crash on March 17, 1957.

Ramon Magsaysay, the 7th President of the Philippines, earned the people’s respect by putting the interests of the common man above his own. He commanded the admiration, respect, and affection of people around the world for his simplicity and humility – a man who cared for all people and believed in their dignity and importance.

In its 64th year, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s premier prize and highest honor, remains relevant and inspiring. 

The awards are given to individuals and organizations whose greatness of spirit has transformed Asia and the world. It is given regardless of race, nationality, creed, or gender-who address issues of human development in Asia with courage and creativity, and in doing so have made contributions that have transformed their societies for the better.

The first Ramon Magsaysay Awards were held on August 31, 1958. - With input from Jennibeth Sabay


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.