The Saint Teresa of Calcutta Awards (STCA), one of the most celebrated award giving bodies in the country, has culminated this year’s search for the most impactful humanitarian with the awarding of Fr. Peter Geremia. The awards ceremony, which centered on theme “30 years of Saintly Selflessness,” was held in conjunction to STCA’s 30th anniversary at the RCBC Plaza Yuchengco Tower in Makati. It was attended by representatives from non-government organizations, philanthropists, public servants, as well as members and officers of JCI Manila and the AY Foundation.
Formerly known as the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Awards, the STCA recognizes individuals who have devoted at least 25 years of their lives to serve underprivileged and underserved Filipinos. Aside from their work, awardees are also judged based on their character and adherence to Saint Teresa’s principles of integrity and simplicity in lifestyle.
This year’s STCA awardee is Fr. Peter Geremia, a 78-year old Italian missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign missions or Pontificium Institutum pro Missionibus Exteris (PIME) who has been instrumental in promoting the rights and living conditions of both marginalized and indigenous people’s for 47 years. He relocated to the Philippines in 1972 and was initially assigned in Tondo.
Early in his service, Fr. Geremia already supported and fought for the needs of minority groups beginning with informal settlers who protested during the La Tondena strike. Fearless for his life, he also stood up against the Manero brothers and their group of North Cotabato who were known to commit atrocities against people connected to the New People’s Army.
Later on, Fr. Geremia and his group also spearheaded efforts to elevate the living conditions of indigenous tribes who were oftentimes deprived of their ancestral land. His group ensured that these tribes were trained in agricultural production so they could sustain themselves, provided with food and land security, and had peace in their immediate communities.
His compassion and determination to help these minorities soon garnered him the Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Award for Peace through Paritcipatory Development in 2001. Fr. Geremia has helped thousands of people through his efforts, particularly the Lumads. His invaluable contribution even earned him the nickname the “Living Saint of the Lumads.”
He is currently the president of the Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio Foundation Inc. which enables people to have access to education, health services, agricultural production, environmental protection and the sustainable building of multicultural communities that espouse mutual respect, justice, peace and solidarity.
Through this recognition from STCA, Fr. Geremia will be able to expand his organization’s reach and help improve the lives of more underprivileged Filipinos. He will receive a cash grant of one million Pesos (PHP1,000,000.00), at least half of which will be donated to his charitable institution of choice.
Through selfless individuals like Fr. Geremia, STCA hopes to inspire more people, particularly the youth, to be more involved and active in their communities. “It is through selfless individuals like Fr. Peter Geremia that we at STCA believe we can truly impact change in the community. By looking outside of ourselves and reaching out to others, we can truly uplift the spirits of those who are not only in need but of the entire country as well,” said Jerrold Ong, 2017 Chairman of the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Award.