ilipino sociologist and Inquirer columnist Randy David is being honored as this year’s grand winner of the Fukuoka Prize, which recognizes outstanding groups and individuals for their work in preserving and celebrating the unique and diverse cultures of Asia.
David, the first Filipino to win the grand prize, “has played a dynamic part in achieving social justice in the Philippines by sharing his knowledge as a sociologist widely through university education, TV programs and newspaper columns, and has made great efforts to promote academic and cultural exchange among Asian countries and to deepen their mutual understanding,” the citation read.
The award described David as “a leading Asian public intellectual and intellectual activist.”
A professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines, David teaches courses on modernity, politics and social theory and hosted a multiawarded public affairs TV talk show from 1986 to 2003. He has received wide recognition for his work in mass media, social sciences and education, and for his column “Public Lives,” that he has been writing for the Inquirer since 1995.
“Honestly, I wasn’t quite expecting this award,” David told the Inquirer. “But I’m deeply honored as a Filipino sociologist and public commentator to be singled out for the Fukuoka grand prize. The Japanese institution that gives out this prestigious award has previously recognized the achievements of a good number of our countrymen. And I’m humbled to join their ranks.”
He added: “That the official announcement was made while our President was visiting Japan fascinates me. Perhaps it was partly intended to honor in a small way the Philippine President’s visit. But, I’d like to think, it’s also Japan’s subtle way of saying that the mutual respect that our two nations have for one another covers a lot of areas, and goes beyond the mutual admiration that our heads of government may have for one another.”
Past awardees from PH
David, who will receive the award in Fukuoka City this September, joins historian Ambeth Ocampo (Fukuoka Academic Prize, 2016), filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik (Arts and Culture Prize, 2012), historian Reynaldo Ileto (Academic Prize, 2003), the late film director Marilou Diaz-Abaya (Arts and Culture Prize, 2001) and the late architect Leandro Locsin (Arts and Culture Prize, 1992) on the roster of Filipino laureates of the Fukuoka Prize.
Aside from the Fukuoka Prize, the organizers also awarded this year’s Academic Prize to historian Leonard Blussé of the Netherlands, and the Arts and Culture Prize to playwright and stage director Sato Makoto of Japan.
If Karina were still around
While he feels “humbled and deeply honored” by the award, David said the award would have been more meaningful if his wife, Karina Constantino-David, were still around.
“At a more personal level, I can’t help feeling sad that my beloved wife and lifelong partner, Karina, who passed on just three weeks ago, won’t be there in Fukuoka to receive the award with me,” said David, who was married for 50 years to the former housing chief and Civil Service Commission chair.
David is also the elder brother of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration’s antidrug campaign.
One of David’s most recent public appearances was when he received the Ka Pepe Diokno Human Rights Award on behalf of his brother, who was advised to lie low after receiving death threats from anonymous parties.