Join us in our 65th Anniversary

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation Visits the Dalai Lama in Preparation for the 65th Anniversary of the Ramon Magsaysay Award

Jul 03, 2023
10 min read

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) Trustee Emily A. Abrera and RMAF President Susan B. Afan visited His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his residence in Dharamshala, India last April 26, 2023.

Born on July 6, 1935, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was declared “the Fourteenth Incarnation of the Patron God of Tibet” at the age of five. In March 1959, however, a failed Tibetan uprising against China happened prompting him to flee his motherland. He has been exiled in India since then.

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Gyalo Thondup (representing the Dalai Lama from Tibet) receives the Ramon Magsaysay Award during the 1959 Ramon Magsaysay Awards Ceremonies held August 31, 1959 at the GSIS Auditorium Manila, Philippines. Handing the medallion and certificate are Hon. Sergio-Osmena Sr. (middle), Honorary Chairman, and Justice Pedro Tuason (right), Chairman of the Board of Trustees of RMAF.

At age 24, Dalai Lama received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s premier prize and highest honor for “his leadership of the Tibetan community's gallant struggle in defense of the sacred religion that is the inspiration of their life and culture.” The Dalai Lama’s exile prevented him from personally receiving His Award. The RMAF Board of Trustees honored his request for his older brother Gyalo Thondup to receive the Award on his behalf in Manila on August 31, 1959. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the medallion did not reach His Holiness and His Office.

After 64 years, the Foundation personally delivered to the Dalai Lama a new medallion together with an album containing the photographs of his brother during the 1959 Presentation Ceremonies in Manila. In a statement, RMAF Trustee Emily Abrera shares, “The Ramon Magsaysay Award is very special to His Holiness and to the Office of the Dalai Lama as it is his first international Award. Even in his youth, the Foundation was able to recognize his courageous leadership that continues to inspire millions of people around the world to this day. We are blessed that His Holiness has granted the Foundation a private audience to rekindle our relationship.”

In preparation for the 65th anniversary of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, RMAF President Susan Afan has been meeting the Magsaysay Awardees, including the Dalai Lama, either through personal visits or Zoom calls to update them about the many celebrations this year. A highlight of the celebrations is the publication of a limited edition 7-volume book series called “Greatness of Spirit” featuring all of the Ramon Magsaysay Laureates from 1958 to 2023. The handsome 7-volume collection will be released in November this year and a special message for the youth from Magsaysay Awardees, including His Holiness, is featured.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama holding the Ramon Magsaysay Award medallion.

“It may have taken 64 years but the Dalai Lama’s medallion is finally home. We take pride in knowing that His Holiness has devoted his whole life in the service of humanity. His message of love, peace and compassion is truly universal. The special message He has given for the youths of the world is truly something special and is an invaluable addition to our book series,” shares Afan.

Today, as the Dalai Lama celebrates His 88th birthday, the Office of the Dalai Lama issued a statement: "The Ramon Magsaysay Award medallion today holds pride of place in our Library and Archive gallery. His Holiness feels that the Award represented the sympathy and support of the international community for the Tibetan people's peaceful struggle for freedom. It is also a reminder to us all of the need to maintain hope and courage even at a time when humanity is facing tremendous challenges."

The Award, named after Ramon Magsaysay—the seventh President of the Philippines, a world-renowned and globally respected Asian leader—is established to honor Greatness of Spirit in Asia. Since the Award’s inception, it has been bestowed to 344 men, women, and organizations in Asia whose selfless work has contributed to the betterment of their respective communities and countries. Recipients of the 2023 Ramon Magsaysay Award will be announced on August 31, 2023, the 116th birth anniversary of President Magsaysay.