Filipino Educator Honored on World Children’s Day

by April Tiamzon/

NEW YORK — Celebrity Chef Ron Bilaro presented the first ever McDonald’s Give A Hand Award to educator Dr. Elvira Directo at the World Children’s Day (WCD) held in the Ronald McDonald House.

Many people shared their time and energy to support Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) through volunteerism or by donating funds and resources to their local RMHC chapters across the globe. Contributions make a big difference in the lives of countless children and families everyday.

This year, McDonald’s created the Give A Hand Award to recognize individuals who have overcame hardships with the help of RMHC, as well as RMHC volunteers who do inspiring work on behalf of the Charity. The Philippines is proud to be represented by Dr. Directo as one of the first-ever recipients of the Award.

The celebration took place at the Ronald McDonald House of New York City. Bilaro was joined by entertainment stars Hayden Panettiere from NBC-TV’s Heroes; multi-platinum artist and songwriter, Ne-Yo; and actress, singer and comedienne Angelica Vale as presentors.

Bilaro mentioned that he “felt very proud and honored” when he presented the award to Dr. Directo. Dr. Directo is an educator and supervisor for the Department of Education who has volunteered her time and educational skills to extend the Bright Minds Read (BMR) program to 20 additional cities reaching more than 900 elementary schools in the Philippines.

Dr. Directo was approached by a RMHC-Philippines representative and was asked what they can do to help the department. She suggested that her biggest project was literacy. RMHC became the main sponsor for the BMR program. “With the help of RMHC,” Dr. Directo said, “sana wala nang non-readers sa Pilipinas.”

With the support of RMHC, storybooks, lesson plans and worksheets are provided to illiterate children throughout the country. Dr. Directo trains teachers to use these materials in classrooms. She is so passionate about her work that she volunteers her nights and weekends to inspire other teachers and school principals to help children learn and help bright minds read. Because of RMHC, the program has successfully helped increase literacy from 60% to 96%. Her achievements and accolades include special recognition from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Filipinos are known everywhere, we are here, and we are not going anywhere. We will continue to keep working harder to get to where we want to be,” Dr. Directo proudly proclaimed. “This award has inspired me to do more, love more, and give more of myself to the children who are in need.”

The RMHC Chapter in Manila together with the Department of Education has implemented Bright Minds Read (BMR) education program, currently on its fifth year in 14 municipalities of the National capital Region in Manila. With Dr. Directo’s direction, this program has enabled 511 public school principals and more than 4,000 teachers to adapt the BMR program in all classrooms of the 14 capital cities of Metro Manila. In addition to her extraordinary work as an educator, Dr. Directo’s drive as a RMHC volunteer and her professional education skills have made it possible to expand the BMR program outside of the metro area to 20 additional cities, reaching 911 elementary schools in 16 other regions.

The World Children’s Day at McDonald’s was created on November 20, 2002 to coincide with the International Day of Children’s Rights and Universal Children’s Day. It is an event to honor commendable people for their invaluable volunteer work in support of RMHC and its efforts for children’s well being around the world.

Don Thompson, the President of McDonald’s USA, talked about this year’s WCD activation in 13,700 restaurants in the U.S. and about the program’s grassroots worldwide. It is a global program executed in over 100 countries. Funds raised on WCD benefit children around the world through RMHC and other worthy causes for children.

Bilaro’s future projects with RMHC include a future line-up, “to positively impact children and support awareness” and will be implemented sometime in February 2008. It will involve cooking with sick children and their families, in Southern California. He would like to intertwine this project with his cooking show, to inspire other people.

Ron Bilaro is a successful personal chef and event organizer. He gained considerable publicity as a sous chef to Art Smith, the personal chef of Oprah Winfrey. Ron currently hosts his own cooking and lifestyle show on The Filipino Channel, “Life… Pinoy Style,” which features Asian American cooking, lifestyles, fashion, trends, entertainment, and shopping.


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