Associate Professor of Theatre Francis Tanglao-Aguas recently received the 2011 Dakila Achievement Award in Education from the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
The Dakila Achievement Awards are presented every two years to members of the Filipino-American community. According to the website, the awardees “represent the best examples of Filipino American service, perseverance, drive and success.” Other Filipino Americans who were honored at this year’s awards ceremony included Angela Lagdameo, special assistant in the Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives and Intergovernmental Affairs, and the late Maria Mabilangan Haley, former adviser to President Bill Clinton and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
According to Mencie Y. Hairston, chair of the 2011 Dakila Achievement Awards Program, Tanglao-Aguas was selected for “his award winning work in theatre, his dogged pursuit of incorporating global perspectives and real world issues into the curricula, his spearheading the campaign to bring Asian American Studies to the College of William and Mary and the mentoring he continues to provide his students and former students outside the classroom.”
The theatre professor was nominated for the award by former students Amanda Andrei ’10 and Jason Blackwell ‘10.
In his nomination letter, Blackwell said that he recommended Tanglao-Aguas for the award “not only on the basis of his intellect, talent, and work ethic in his endeavors in academia, theater, and most especially in advocacy and activism; but more so because of his compassionate, tireless efforts to promote the Filipino (culture), history, and spirit through his creative essence.”
“Francis came into my life as a professor my freshman year and throughout the last five years I have learned a great deal about personal identity, humanity, and preservation of ideals from him,” said Blackwell.
Andrei echoed Blackwell’s sentiments.
“I nominated Francis because I've known him for over four years now, since I transferred from UVA to W&M as a sophomore, and I feel that Francis has gone above and beyond as a teacher, mentor, and friend,” Andrei said in an e-mail.
Andrei not only enjoyed one of Tanglao-Aguas’ theatre classes, but she also received help from him to set up at a study abroad program with the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Andrei said that program helped her serve as the president of the Filipino American Student Association, write her undergraduate honors thesis in anthropology and write her award-winning play, “Every Night I Die,” which Tanglao-Aguas directed during the summer.
“In short, I would not be where I am today without Francis' help, support, and encouragement. Consequently, Francis' hard work, dedication, and vision makes it possible for communities, particularly Filipino-Americans and other peoples of color, to have their voices heard and their stories told,” she said.
During his acceptance speech at the Nov. 12 ceremony in Arlington, Va., Tanglao-Aguas called students like Andrei and Blackwell his “inspiration.”
“When I teach, I belong to a fountain of youth through my work with my students,” he said. “They are examples of courage and integrity to me as they undertake the scary lessons I encourage them to explore.”
Tanglao-Aguas also shared his reasons for becoming a teacher, which are rooted in family tradition. His grandfathers were among the earliest American-educated teachers in the Philippines, Tanglao-Aguas said. Additionally, his father, mother and numerous other relatives were teachers.
“Our devotion to this vocation exemplifies the belief of 90 million other Filipinos who believe that education remains the most absolute and powerful weapon of liberation,” he said.
Although a teacher, Tanglao-Aguas said that he also remains a student, and his wife and children are his “true teachers.”
“Their unconditional love reminds me that to be a successful teacher, I must be willing to learn everyday as a student so I may teach my own students how to do well not only in school but more so in life,” he said.