Inspiration

Meet the Filipina Who Worked at the UN Agency That Won the Nobel Peace Prize

Vivian Talambiras-Cruz’s Nobel Prize is punctuated by the humanitarian efforts she’s been a part of since the awarding in 2005.
IMAGE COURTESY VIVIAN T. CRUZ
Comments

In 2005, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to its Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, for their work in demilitarizing nuclear technology.

Filipino Vivian Talambiras-Cruz was a member of the IAEA for nearly 25 years, and like all IAEA members, was given a certificate by the Nobel Committee. It is displayed proudly in her home in West Orange, New Jersey.

The IAEA was awarded for its “efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.” 


ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Vivian (center) with former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Mohamed ElBaradei and his wife.

Here are some interesting tidbits about Talambiras-Cruz.

She says the war on Iraq could've been prevented.

During her time in the organization, Talambiras-Cruz aided in the investigations into the United States' allegations of Iraq reviving its nuclear weapons program. The allegations would eventually prove to be unfounded, but only after the U.S. had executed Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003. Had the investigations been allowed to continue, she asserted, the war could have been prevented.

Her husband was a 9/11 survivor.

Her husband, retired banker Frank Cruz, managed to escape Tower 1 of the World Trade Center less than 10 minutes before it collapsed after terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Cruz first noticed something was wrong when he heard a loud bang and saw cracks in the ceiling. Thinking it was an earthquake, he decided to join colleagues in heading down the stairs from the 48th floor. The trip down took roughly 45 minutes, as he recalled, and what greeted him on the ground floor resembled a war zone. A few minutes after he hurried to safety, smoke engulfed the area as the tower finally fell to ruin.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

He was reunited with his wife at the United Nations headquarters where they shared a hug of relief.


A framed reminder of IAEA's accomplishment, with a copy of its Nobel Prize document

She provides free hearing aids and cleft palate surgeries in her hometown, Batangas.

Talambiras-Cruz is a key stakeholder of the AKOIO Foundation, which provides hearing aids to improve the accessibility options of hard-of-hearing (HoH) Batanguenos. Her friend, foundation co-founder Ninez Arreglado, started the project in 2013, and the pilot mission gave more than 1,500 HoH patients hearing aids over the span of a week. In the following year, roughly 700 HoH patients in Lipa City were given aids in a single day. The project continues to offer free testing, fitting, and hearing aids for beneficiaries across Batangas.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

She helped raise nearly $400,000 for the survivors of super typhoon Haiyan.

The Philippine Consulate-General of New York’s Build a Shelter Project (BASP), of which Talambiras-Cruz is a convenor, was launched in 2013 to provide aid to families struck by supertyphoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda). By 2015, the BASP had raised $379,732.73 for housing projects across Eastern Samar and Leyte, which went to fund the construction of more than 120 homes in the region. Talambiras-Cruz personally flew to Leyte to visit 22 beneficiary families in April that year.

She remains an active member of Filipino communities in New York.

Aside from the humanitarian work, Talambiras-Cruz manages to stay active in sociocultural circles as well. She's served six years as the president of the Assumption Alumnae Abroad’s NY chapter, and has organized fundraisers at the Philippine consulate.

Town&Country got in touch with Talambiras-Cruz, who retired from the United Nations about 10 years ago. Still based in the U.S., she continues to be active in various projects across both the Philippines and the States, participating in book drives in Batangas and managing medical supply donations to local hospitals.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Comments
About The Author
Marco Sumayao
Contributing Writer
View Other Articles From Marco
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
April babies get the most coveted gem of all for their birthstone.
 
Share
"We thought this is perfectly normal, everyone must do it."
 
Share
Before the couple arrived in the country on Sunday, no member of the British royal family had visited the country since it came under communist rule.
 
Share
A dozen of the people charged in the massive nationwide fraud are set to appear in court today, but what about the students who benefited from the bribes and fake test scores?
 
Share
Every family is different in how they display their wealth.
 
Share
These classic pieces are some of the most coveted from the brand.
 
Share
There’s far more to "Angels in America" than its tackling of gay and AIDS-related issues.
 
Share
Now you can add the Hermes level of luxury to your beauty routine.
 
Share
There's still some time to catch the musical that features songs by the Apo Hiking Society.
 
Share
The most exotic and family-friendly destinations, both near and far.
 
Share
Accurately portraying this kind of money means putting the right art on their walls, the right clothes on their backs, and the right food on their plates.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US