Back in February 2015, I attended a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) event where they announced that they were launching a Search for the Winners Against Asthma (SWAA). This nationwide search meant to find young achievers 30 years old and below who were outstanding in their respective fields despite suffering from asthma. The search was meant to portray hope that asthma, although a chronic disease, could be overcome in different ways.
Meet the winners!
YOUTH CATEGORY (19 years old and below)
Grand prize winner of the search in the youth category was 19-year old Christian Lacza, a student from Navotas City. One of the 2014 Kabayan Ten Outstanding Public School Students and one of the 2014 Ten Outstanding Youth Leaders of Navotas City, Christian never let his asthma get the better of him. When he was younger, he recounts how his asthma attacks were so severe that his Mom would bring him almost weekly to the hospital. He realized that since he could not excel in physical activities, he could focus on his other strengths. He pushed himself to be a “holistic learner — excelling in academics, student leadership, and in various competitions”.
* Christina Chua (15-year old student and dancer)
* Andre Rafael and Anton Joachim Montero (taekwondo twins)
* Kenneth Angelo Bagay (consistent student scholar)
* Dave Andre Labaton (taekwondo medalist)
The grand prize in the adult category went to Teesha Banta. Teesha is a 23-year old student from St. Luke’s College of Medicine, a full scholar in her first two years of med school and a graduate (Cum Laude) from the University of the Philippines Los Banos with a degree in BS Biology, major in Wildlife Biology.
Her resume speaks volumes about this active student’s interests. She is a lifetime member of two international honor societies. As an active Girl Scout, she received two of the highest awards given by the organization — the Chief Girl Scout Medal and recognition as one of the 75 GSP National Young Awardees. She has also represented the Philippines in national and international events, specifically as an advocate and a National Peer Educator on Adolescent Female Health.
Being an asthmatic herself, Teesha plans to become an OB-GYN or specialize in Pediatric Pulmonology so she could treat asthmatic children. Part of her message to other asthmatics: “Our condition is but another challenge that adds more meaning to each of our achievements, an opportunity to push harder, aim higher, and be better persons and citizens of our country. Perhaps we were given this condition because we have the ability to turn these ‘setbacks’ into ‘set-ups’ of better things to come…” Well said, Teesha!!!
* Ianna Engano (a UP student, athlete, musician, artist, and social activist)
* Yasmin Versoza (firefighter and member of the Marikina City Fire Truck crew
* Christianne de Vera (triathlete)
* Yliah Nina Bosch (a registered nurse working as an Emergency Nurse Responder at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport)
Present also at the event and an asthmatic himself was Arnel Pineda of the band Journey. Arnel is a longtime brand ambassador for GSK as he represents someone who did not let asthma faze him. Instead, he overcame it and went on to join an internationally acclaimed band.
Kim Chiu, International Rock superstar and Filipino Olympic figure skater Michael Christian Martinez are likewise celebrities who have suffered from asthma but went on to gain recognition in their own fields. They join Arnel Pineda in helping to spread awareness of the campaign against asthma.
Read more about GSK’s Search for Winners Against Asthma here: facebook.com/WinAgainstAsthma