Bernadette Mill, Senior Content Writer   12 June 2020

Filipino flag

We have launched the inaugural List of Influential Filipinos in the Diaspora, in celebration of Philippine Independence Day on 12th June.

The inaugural List of Influential Filipinos in the Diaspora was compiled in recognition of the successes and contributions made by Filipino migrants around the world, to their communities back home and in their chosen fields. These incredible men and women have gained a worldwide reputation for their famous bayanihan spirit!

Please join us in congratulating these honorees and wishing them every continued success.

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Rowena Romulo influential Filipino“A

Rowena Romulo – Britain

Award-winning Restaurateur

Rowena Romulo is the owner of Romulo Café, the first international outpost of a family-owned food business established in 2009 in Manila. The restaurant draws upon the family legacy of one of the Philippines’ international diplomatic figures, Carlos P. Romulo, offering food lovers a taste of the Philippines in the heart of Kensington, London.

Since opening in 2016, Rowena has put Filipino cuisine firmly on London’s foodie map winning plaudits and prizes such the Kensington & Chelsea Business Awards for Best Restaurant (2019), Asian Curry Awards for Best Filipino Restaurant (2019) , Time Out Love London award for most loved restaurant in Kensington (2016 and 2018), inclusion in Harden’s Best UK Restaurants 2017-2019 and the 2018-2020 Tatler (UK) Restaurant Guide.

Before devoting her work fulltime to Romulo Café, Rowena was an accomplished Senior Banker with over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry having worked at Citibank and JP Morgan with international assignments in New York, Milan and London. Her last role was as Managing Director of a Global business. She has held various positions in operations, product management, business management, strategy, product development, sales, marketing and communications.

In October 2017, Rowena was selected as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World (Global FWN100TM) by the Filipina Women's Network under the BUILDER award category. In April 2019, she received the Lasallian Achievement Award in the Food Service Industry category during the 6th One La Salle Night of Excellence.


A headshot of Victoria Navarrano an influential Filipino“A

Victoria Navarro - USA

Director of the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition
17th President of the Philippine Nurses Association of America

Victoria was the first foreign-educated Director of Nursing at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Wilmer Eye Institute. She founded the Philippine Nurses Association’s Maryland Chapter to continue the legacy of the first and second wave of migrant nurses. As the 17th President of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, her theme “Social Construct” was on establishing the identity of Filipino-American Nurses as essential to the healthcare of their country of destination.

Her social activism brought forth the positive portrayal and image of Filipino-American Nurses. Collaboration with key Philippine national departments in education, labour and health, have brought to light issues on employment rights and migration practices.   

Ms. Navarro initiated the First Filipino Nurses Global Summit in 2014 focusing on Global Health and Climate Change. As Director of the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition, she focused on relief assistance to major natural and man-made disasters, including super Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record; the powerful typhoons that landed in the Bicol Region; the Siege of Marawi, a five-month-long armed conflict which resulted in the destruction of more than 2,000 homes in Jolo, Sulu and the current coronavirus pandemic.

Victoria partnered with the National Federation of Filipino American Associations and the “TULONG (help) SULONG (move forward)” Food Aid Relief in order to help thousands of families who are struggling in the Philippines.  

Victoria received the BANAAG Presidential Award for Filipinos Overseas from His Excellency, Philippine President Benigno. Aquino, Jr in 2014. In 2016, she was awarded the Philippine Embassy’s Most Outstanding Filipino-American Award from His Excellency, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr.


A headshot of Imelda Deinla an influential Filipino“A

Imelda Deinla – Australia

Academic and Advocate

Dr Imelda Deinla is a Research Fellow at the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. She works on socio-legal and regulatory studies on the rule of law and democracy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Philippines.  Imelda is the inaugural Project Director of the ANU Philippines Project, a DFAT-funded academic and policy collaboration between the Philippines and Australia.

Her research projects in Mindanao, Philippines cover such themes as legal pluralism, shari’ah law, peacebuilding, military relations and the role of civil society in post-conflict transition. Imelda has obtained and managed multi-year research projects and worked on women’s rights and human rights advocacy and capacity building in the Asia Pacific.

Imelda’s recent publications include The Development of the Rule of Law in ASEAN: the state and regional integration (Cambridge University Press 2017) and co-edited volume, From Aquino II to Duterte: change, continuity – and rupture (ISEAS 2019).

She is a member of the Philippine Bar and has practiced law in the areas of property, family, corporation and criminal law before migrating to Australia. Imelda obtained bachelor degrees in law and political science from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She completed a Masters of Law (LLM) and Doctor of Laws (PhD) from the University of New South Wales as a University scholar. 


A headshot of Teresa and Ramon Torralba a married couple of influential Filipinos“A

Teresa Torralba – Canada

Executive Director of Philippine Legacy and Cultural Alliance

Teresa moved to Canada with her family in 1973. A dedicated volunteer and community advocate, she is currently the Executive Director of Philippine Legacy and Cultural Alliance (PLACA).  She organised the most recent Taste of Manila street festival in partnership with ABS-CBN/TFC and TOMP. 

Teresa is also the Executive Director of National Filipino Heritage Canada, which is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the month of June as Filipino Heritage Month in Canada. She is the publisher of Filipinos Making News WAVES newspaper and the founding President of its accompanying festival.

Teresa holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Sociology from the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas.

Ramon Torralba – Canada

Co-Founder of Filipinos Making Waves Festival

Popularly known as “Mon”, he is an original member of the Platinum-selling and critically-acclaimed Hotdog Band, which is one of the Philippines’ most famous music groups, most remembered for their hit single “Manila”.

Mon went to Canada in 1981 where he has been a tireless volunteer. He has continued to produce music and homed his creativity as a copywriter. Together with his wife Teresa, Mon founded Filipinos Making Waves Festival in 2007 to showcase all aspects of Filipino culture.

He retired from the Toronto Police force in 2010 after 30 years of service.

A graduate of De La Salle University, he is a recipient of the Antonio Montemayor Anievas Award for Music.

Mon’s contribution to the music industry was recognized when he was awarded the Magiting na Kompositor Award in 2010.


A headshot of Gelaine Santiago an influential Filipinos“A

Gelaine Santiago – Canada

Social Entrepreneur

As co-founder of Cambio & Co., an ethical fashion retailer based in Toronto, Gelaine aims to foster appreciation for Filipino culture and heritage among the younger generation of Filipinos in the diaspora. 

Santiago founded Cambio & Co. with her husband in 2015. Since then, the business has been growing exponentially with clients across Canada, the U.S.A., Europe and Australia. Although she had little experience of running a business, she is now also working as a marketing consultant, helping other ethical companies to share their stories and grow their brands. 

She also has an interest in the non-profit and social enterprise sphere, which started in her college days at the University of Guelph in Ontario. In 2012, Santiago co-founded her own non-profit ChooseSocial.PH, a digital platform connecting Filipinos in the diaspora with social enterprises in the Philippines.


A headshot of Brendan Flores an influential Filipinos“A

Brendan Flores – USA

Philanthropist & Advocate

Brendan is the youngest ever elected Chairman of The National Federation of Filipino American Associations.

As National Chairman of NaFFAA, Brendan is responsible for leading the largest national affiliation of Filipino American institutions, organizations and individuals to unite and amplify the voices of the four million Filipinos and Filipino Americans living in the United States. Brendan holds a position as Senior Vice President and Consumer Banking Performance Manager at Bank of America.

Brendan is a recipient of ABS-CBN North America Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino Award (Global Filipino Hero). He was also honored as one of the most Outstanding Filipino Americans in the United States, a Global Innovator Award recipient as well as the National Academy Foundation’s Alumni Honoree of the Year. He was recently named as one of the Top 40 Asian American Pacific Islanders’ political operatives and public affairs professionals under 40.


A headshot of Lolita Boddy an influential Filipinos“A

Lolita Boddy – Britain


Lolita founded the Yorkshire Maharlika Filipino Club (YMFC) in a network of charitable organisations with the aim of helping less fortunate children and impoverished communities in the Philippines.

Since its creation, the YMFC held the first-ever charity Yorkshire Barrio Festa in Leeds to unite the Filipino communities in the region and further afield. They have been able to support many charities in the Philippines and the UK. YMFC is a charity in action organisation,

The Yorkshire Maharlika Filipino Club has received a certificate of appreciation from the Republic of the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs and Philippine London Embassy in recognition of their tireless charitable work.


A headshot of Emcille Wills an influential Filipinos“A

Emcille Wills – Australia

Advocate for Migrant women

 Emcille has been working as a Home Language Officer at a middle school in Darwin for over 10 years providing classroom support to indigenous, migrant and refugee students. Between 2010 to 2015, she was involved in an asylum seeker program at her school in collaboration with the Department of Immigration.

She has been involved in many events and organisations as a volunteer to give back to her community. She has become part of various women's organisations to advocate for the rights of migrant women. Emcille was previously the Chair of the Australian-Immigrant and Refugee Women's Alliance - one of the six federally-funded women's organisations, a position she held for 4 years.

At present, she is an Executive Committee member of the FIlipino-Australian Association where she initiated the formation of the Kultura Dance Collective - a cultural dance troupe which promotes the Philippine culture through authentic performances and PHLtheBEAT - a HipHop Dance Group comprising Filipino youth. Emcille is also the Vice President of the Casuarina Childcare Management Committee.


A headshot of Loizza Aquino an influential Filipino“A

Loizza Aquino – Canada

Mental health Advocate

Loizza is a global award-winning mental health activist and a motivational speaker, primarily speaking on and leading advocacy efforts surrounding topics which include mental health, cyberbullying, equality, and female empowerment.

She is one of the youngest ever recipients of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award. Loizza is the founder of Peace of Mind Canada and co-founder of Student Mental Health Canada. She has spoken at educational institutions and community events in Toronto, Boston, London, and Manilla. Loizza strives to empower other youth across the globe, through her thought-provoking and inspirational story of personal achievement and loss.


A headshot of Anya David an influential Filipino“A

Anya David - USA

Entrepreneur & Mentor

Anya moved from Cebu City, Philippines, to the United States at the age of 12. She is an Award-Winning Business Owner and Entrepreneur, President and CEO of IT TechPros, Inc.

She is the recipient of a number of awards including the Asian Heritage Association’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award in 2010 and the Minority-Owned Business of the Year, awarded by the San Diego District of the Small Business Administration in 2013. She is a former Board Member of the Mabuhay Alliance and has been a keynote speaker at the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce.

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We are proud to celebrate the contributions of all Filipinos in the diaspora.

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