LOVE & GREATNESS OF SPIRIT: 5 couples who have jointly received the Ramon Magsaysay Award

Feb 12, 2023
10 min read

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we highlight five husband and wife teams whose successful partnerships were not limited within the walls of their homes but have expanded throughout their respective societies. These transformative pairs have proven that love is truly a driving force in addressing some of Asia’s most challenging problems.


1968 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee | Philippines

SILVINO and ROSARIO ENCARNACION knew each other from childhood—their families were neighbors and good friends in Nueva Ecija, Philippines. The two married when ROSARIO returned to Bantug, Nueva Ecija to teach.

In April 11, 1960, with the help of a Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) Officer, the Bantug Cooperative Credit Union was established with SILVINO ENCARNACION as Treasurer-Manager, and ROSARIO ENCARNACION as Chairman of the Credit Committee. According to PRRM, “The successful operations and stability of the Bantug Credit Union are mainly due to the zealous dedication, the sustained leadership and the diligent management” of the ENCARNACIONS. Because of this, SILVINO and ROSARIO ENCARNACION received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1968 for “their wise management of a credit cooperative that soundly improves life in their low-income barrio, without incurring bad debts.”


2010 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee | Philippines

CHRISTOPHER and MA. VICTORIA BERNIDO both earned their doctorate degrees in physics from the State University of New York, and were well respected in the global community of physicists when they decided to move to Jagna, Bohol in Central Philippines to run the old and struggling Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF) in 1999, taking it as an opportunity to serve their country.
The husband and wife team introduced various programs to improve teaching and learning for high school students such as the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP) and Learning Physics as One Nation, and established the Research Center for Theoretical Physics (RCTP). These innovative solutions to education, for the BERNIDOS is, “the bigger picture, the country. We both wanted to do something for the country.”


1986 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee | Indonesia

Considered as Indonesia's champion couple of public service, ALOYSIUS BENEDICTUS and NAFSIAH MBOI initiated dramatic changes in the socio-economic prospects of the poor province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), Indonesia.

BENEDICTUS and NAFSIAH, both medical practitioners, had to leave Jakarta when the former became the Governor of NTT. As governor, BENEDICTUS revitalized the government agencies that have helped farmers make the province self-sufficient in grain production, and instilled in educators, technicians and public officials the work ethic and self-confidence to develop their province.

NAFSIAH, on the other hand, became director of the province’s community health services where she revitalized the Village Family Welfare Movement and Dharma Wanita, a women’s cooperative movement that addressed the province’s “child killers” – neonatal tetanus, gastroenteritis and measles.

In 1986, ALOYSIUS BENEDICTUS and NAFSIAH MBOI received Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s premier prize and highest honor, for “their open-hearted invigoration of government and cooperating agencies, bringing practical rural progress and new self-motivation to nearly three million villagers in Indonesia's bleakest province.”


2008 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee | India

Husband and wife PRAKASH and MANDAKINI AMTE met each other in medical college where he was taking training in surgery, and she was doing her postgraduate in anesthesiology.

During their courtship, PRAKASH told MANDAKINI that he would be working in a forest in central India to serve the tribal people after graduation and she instantly agreed to join him. Through sacrifices and dedication, the couple made sure that the tribal people of Hemalkasa have access to medical care, education, and self-sustaining through agriculture to conserve forest resources.


1986 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee | Pakistan

ABDUL SATTAR and BILQIS BANO EDHI are undeniably Pakistan’s philanthropy legends.

ABDUL SATTAR met BILQIS when she was a volunteer at the Edhi Foundation. They were married three years later. ABDUL SATTAR was involved in every aspect of the foundation while BILQIS managed the nursing home and oversaw maternity care and adoption services for abandoned babies, a family planning clinic, an emergency center with 24-hour service by ambulances, an outpatient department and a shelter for the homeless.
In rendering their service for the people, the EDHIs said, "Our work is our life, take it away and we won't be able to live," and through their dedication Edhi Foundation became the largest and most highly organized social welfare system in Pakistan. They jointly received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for “their giving substance in an Islamic society to the ancient humane commandment that thou art thy brother's keeper.”