Asian Heroes in 2012 Ramon Magsaysay AwardsAn Indonesian mountaineer who faced death threats while battling illegal loggers and a Bangladeshi lawyer who fought to keep old rusty ships from being dumped in her homeland are among this year’s winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

The six winners, announced Thursday, battled great odds to improve the plight of the poor in forest communities, Asian farmlands and exploitative industries. Working selflessly to create sustainable solutions to poverty, they are showing how committed leaders can truly transform millions of individual lives and galvanize progressive community action.

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honor and is widely regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It celebrates the memory of the third Philippine President, who was beloved for his leadership abilities and selfless service. The Awardees are:

Chen Shu-Chu, a daily vegetable vendor in Taiwan, was also named a Forbes Hero of Philanthropy for her extraordinary personal giving, more than one hundred thousands dollars donated, which has transformed the lives of hundreds of Taiwanese children and families.

Romulo Davide, a scientist from the Philippines, is being recognized for “his steadfast passion in placing the power and discipline of science in the hands of farmers in the Philippines, who have consequently multiplied their yields, created productive farming communities, and rediscovered the dignity of their labor.”

Kulandei Francis, from India, is being recognized for his visionary zeal for sustainable agriculture programs that create economic empowerment for thousands of women and their families who live in perennially-drought hit regions.

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, is being recognized for judicial activism in Bangladesh on behalf of his society’s right to a clean environment. She sued the shipbreaking industry for hazardous working conditions and for improper waste disposal in public waters.

Yang Saing Koma set up an NGO that has harnessed science to enable vast numbers of farmers in Cambodia to become more empowered and productive.

Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto led a bold campaign to stop illegal forest exploitation in Indonesia and established a social enterprise initiative to engage the local forest communities.

The six 2012 Magsaysay awardees join 290 other laureates who have received Asia’s highest honor to date. This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize.

(READ more in an AP story via ABC)

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