Cecilia, or “Nanay Day” to the survivors Voice of the Free (formerly Visayan Forum) cares for, is a globally celebrated social entrepreneur and human rights activist. She is renowned for her courage and relentless pursuit of a society where people are free to explore opportunities without the risk of being exploited, abused, or enslaved.
A Freedom Fighter in her youth, Cecilia has dedicated her life to ending modern slavery by fighting for the Filipino people’s liberation during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, and eventually founding Voice of the Free after her release as a political prisoner. Since that time Cecilia has worked to successfully establish global best practices in the fight against human trafficking.
She is an internationally recognized Anti-Slavery Awardee, as given by Anti-Slavery International; a Trafficking in Persons Hero, as awarded by the US State Department in 2008; a Modern Day Slavery Abolitionist, as awarded by the Government of the United Kingdom; and is the recipient of the first Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor, given by the US Department of Labor. Cecilia has also been awarded the World Children’s Prize by the World Children’s Prize Foundation, the 2013 Thomson Reuter’s Trustlaw Connect Impact Award, and was one of the Child10 Awardees of 2015 by Reach for Change. Cecilia is on the Advisory Board of the Freedom from Slavery Committee and the Freedom United and World Children’s Prize, In 2013, Cecilia’s journey with survivors fighting to end modern slavery was featured by The CNN Freedom Project in a full-length documentary entitled “The Fighters". Cecilia was also appointed by the Philippine President as NGO Representative of the Women’s Sector to the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.
Cecilia fervently believes that we can end human trafficking and modern slavery in this generation.