MANILA -- Keeping the United States-Philippines' ties strong, particularly on the people-to-people aspect, proves to be beneficial as manifested in the works of Filipino professionals who had participated in some US exchange programs, US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said.

"Filipino alumni of the IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) and other professional exchanges have gone to do remarkable things in the Philippines across the spectrum of public service, business, civil society, and education," Kim said in a speech at a reception in Manila.

"In every part of the country, we are deeply proud of our friendship with our alumni and very much appreciate the opportunity to work with them to advance our shared interest in a more prosperous, more stable and secure Philippines," he added.

IVLP is the State Department's flagship exchange program wherein participants are selected by the Embassy and can come from government and non-government sectors.

On Saturday night, alumni of the IVLP, Community Solutions Program, and the Study of the US (SUSI) gathered for an annual reception in Manila.

During the event, the US Embassy, in partnership with the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF), also awarded Karen Davila of ABS-CBN and Dr. Marylendra Penetrante of the Children and Youth Wellness Technical and Advocacy Center (CYMTAC) for their outstanding work on the field of journalism and public service, respectively.

Kim said the awardees were chosen based on their works that made "an impact for the broader good not just for individual gain."

From her daily routine doing community work, Penetrante said the award serves as an affirmation that she is "doing the right thing."

"It’s very rare in my daily life to be recognized and I believe this is very special," she told reporters.

The same goes for Davila, saying her US Embassy-NCAF recognition was different from other awards she received in the past.

"It's about the existing work you are doing, you can't apply for it. I think that's one big difference so it comes at a period in your life wherein you're not vying for it, and I think mentally, emotionally, it makes the biggest difference of all," she said in an interview. (PNA)