UST Communication Arts alumna Erlinda “Dang” Uy-Koe won the inaugural prize awarded by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) for her advocacy on autism inclusion. The award was conferred
upon Uy-Koe on November 13, 2018 by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, during the opening ceremony of the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Singapore witnessed by ASEAN leaders.
The ASEAN Prize, administered by the ASEAN Secretariat, aims to recognize
inspiring achievements and contributions of an individual or organization that foster the ASEAN identity, promote the ASEAN spirit, and champion the ASEAN way.
In addition to a trophy, the recipient of the ASEAN Prize also received a cash prize of US$20,000. The sponsors for the ASEAN Prize 2018 were Temasek Foundation Connects of Singapore, the Ayala Corporation of the Philippines and Yayasan Hasanah of Malaysia.
Uy-Koe is chair Emeritus of Autism Society Philippines (ASP). Under her
leadership, the ASP with 96 chapters nation-wide, has become one of the most vibrant disability organizations in the Philippines.
At the regional level, Uy-Koe served as chair of the ASEAN Autism Network
(AAN), comprising of autism family support organizations from ASEAN member states. The AAN is a platform for member states to cooperate and unite in developing non-discriminatory programs to support persons living with autism and their families.
Having received The Outstanding Thomasian ALumni (TOTAL) Award for
Humanitarian Service in 2009, Uy-Koe’s efforts have inspired autism awareness beyond the Philippines. The ASP’s “Angels Walk for Autism 2018,” gathered over 24,000 participants, with thousands more converging in simultaneous walks in ten cities. This inspired other members of AAN
to hold their own Autism Walks in their respective capitals. A member of class 1977 of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, Uy-Koe has also taken her advocacy to the international arena. Her engagements have sparked discussions on project collaborations with China and Korea. She has also served the United Nations Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific’s Working Group of the Asia Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities for 2018-2022. Uy-Koe was selected by ASEAN
Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, and former Secretaries-General Tan Sri Ajit Singh, Ong Keng Yong, and Le Luong Minh who comprised the Panel of Judges.
In a statement released on the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) Facebook page, Uy-Koe said, “This is a welcome blessing. For the inaugural ASEAN Prize to be awarded to a family autism advocacy shows how far the
ASEAN Community has embraced inclusion for persons with autism and other special needs. I pray that this recognition will help organizations like the ASP and other members of ASEAN Autism Network to connect with
policy makers and push for institutional mechanisms that will help improve the lives of those living in the autism spectrum.
This inaugural ASEAN Prize honors all family advocates who work hard for the acceptance, accommodation and appreciation of people with autism. And above all, I thank God for giving us our children, for giving us a higher
purpose, and for putting us to together to work for one vision, one autism friendly ASEAN community. To God be the glory.”