Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Priest to receive humanitarian award

Preda Foundation founder Fr. Shay Cullen, also a columnist for The Manila Times, will be honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 2009 Meteor Ireland Music Awards together with a donation of 100,000 euros ($130,000).

The awards ceremonies will take place at RDS in Dublin on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17.

Cullen, nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, is a missionary priest from Dublin and a member of the Missionary Society of Saint Columban, who a statement on Friday said, has worked “tirelessly” in protecting women and children and human rights in the Philippines since 1969.

He established Preda Foundation in Olongapo City, Zambales province, in 1974 to promote human rights, justice and peace. Cullen has since been reputed to strive for the elimination of child abuse and the promotion of respect for children’s rights “by attempting to change the unjust economic, political and social structures and attitudes that allow such abuse.”

The Columban priest has developed 12 Preda projects, which aim to educate for peace, free children from brothels and jails and give them a chance to recover in therapeutic homes and be reintegrated to have a happier life free from violence and abuse.

When he uncovered a child-prostitution ring selling children to personnel at the former US Naval Base in Subic town of Zambales, he initiated “a successful campaign to remove the bases and convert the infrastructure into a commercial manufacturing zone.” As many as 100,000 Filipinos now work at the converted naval base and also at the former US Clark Air Base in Angeles City in Pampanga province that had also been converted.

Poverty alleviation program

Cullen, in 1975, began the Preda Fair Trade, “a successful poverty-alleviation, manufacturing and export project that lifts the poor to a life of dignity.” He oversees 12 major projects at the foundation including environmental protection and tree planting. With a professional staff of 83, the projects are expanding.

He has received several human-rights awards and has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and other human-rights awards. Cullen has testified before the US Congress and the Philippine Senate and is a well-known speaker and facilitator at numerous other international conferences.

Along with being the author of Passion and Power, an autobiography, he writes a weekly column in The Times that is published in other newspapers and online. Cullen also writes poetry and songs and is a media commentator on the issues of trafficking of women and children and human-rights violations.

Previous recipients of the Humanitarian Award and donations were Mary Donohue (Rose Project Founder), Sir Elton John, Christina Noble, Bono, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy and Adi Roche, Fr. Peter McVerry and Paul Brady.

The Meteor Awards will be presented by Amanda Byram and will feature performances from Stereophonics, Enrique Iglesias, Boyzone, James Morrison, Elbow, Sharon Shannon with Mundy, Duke Special, The Blizzards and Imelda May.

With 19 Meteor awards up for grabs, music fans will be able to let their fingers do the voting. Full details available on www.meteor.ie.

Thirty tickets [including booking fee] are on sale now from Ticketmaster. This is strictly an event for those 16 to 18 year olds and they should be accompanied by a parent or guardian if they plan to see the show.

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