MOKA 2023 celebrates excellence

City of San Fernando, Pampanga—-The ceremony honoring the 13 Most Outstanding Kapampangan Awardees (MOKA) 2023 has drawn to a successful finale.

It aligned with the 452nd commemoration of Pampanga’s founding anniversary, organized by the MOKA Committee and Secretariat in collaboration with the Arts, Culture, and Tourism Office of Pampanga (ACTOP), and the Provincial Government of Pampanga led by Governor Dennis Delta Pineda, Vice Governor Lilia Nanay Pineda, and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members.

The MOKA ceremony was held Monday, December 11, 2023 at the Kingsborough International Convention with former President now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District) as keynote speaker. She was a MOK Awardee for National Government Service in 1996 during her first term as a senator.

After individually congratulating the awardees, she emphasized the significance of the Clark Freeport Zone as the jewel and pivotal asset in Pampanga’s growth and its promising role in the nation’s development.

Angeles City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin, Jr. has been honored as one of the recipients of the MOKA 2023 award in the Government Service category, acknowledging his exceptional contributions to the advancement of the Kapampangan community. This recognition, announced by the MOKA committee through Pampanga 2nd District Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Mylyn Pineda Cayabyab on December 4, 2023, celebrates Mayor Lazatin’s remarkable accomplishments in upholding the ideals of the Kapampangan people.

Mayor Lazatin’s administration has previously received numerous awards and accolades, including the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) 2023, Gawad Makabata Award 2023, SubayBAYANI 2023, 23rd Gawad Kalasag, Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance 2022, and Good Financial Housekeeping in 2022.

Notably, Mayor Lazatin follows in the footsteps of his late father, former First District Rep. Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin, who was also honored with the MOKA award for Government Service in 2011.

In September, submission of MOKA nominations have been announced by Board Member Pineda-Cayabyab and she disclosed information regarding the widened criteria and scope of MOKA.

The awards program extended its reach to embrace more Kapampangans from various sectors, making it even more inclusive and representative of the communities.

Among the notable changes introduced to MOKA, a new category emerged—the Outstanding Kapampangan OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker). This accolade was bestowed upon Dr. Mary Jane Alvero Al-Mahdi, recognizing her exceptional contributions in her field while proudly representing the province on an international platform.

Another pivotal adjustment within MOKA involves the incorporation of individuals who, although not Kapampangan by lineage or birth, have lived continuously and uninterruptedly in Pampanga for a minimum of 15 years. This modification acknowledges the substantial impact of non-Kapampangans who have fully embraced the province as their own and have positively shaped the local community. This recognition was conferred upon Dr. Irineo Alvaro Jr. as the Outstanding Honorary Kapampangan.

Other awardees were Philip Torres (Culture), Dr. Bernardo Siron (Education), Joseph Ian Canlas (Emerging Category Finance), Ocampo’s Betis Band 1946 (Emerging Category Institutional), Isabelita Manalastas-Watanabe (Entrepreneurship), PLtCol Leny Pangilinan (Law Enforcement), Jojit Villareal Aka Ara Muna (Performing Arts), Dr. Filomena Reyes (Science & Technology), Mark Joseph Ocampo (Sports), and Edwin Layug (Visual Arts).

MOKA stands as the highlight of the week-long festivities commemorating the province’s founding anniversary, also recognized as “Aldo Ning Kapampangan.”

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