Obama lauds Filipina 'hero' nurse

Pinoys' overwhelming concern for others even in times of difficulty is again highlighted after U.S. President Barack Obama honored a Filipina nurse Wednesday.

In his State of the Union Address, Obama lauded Menchu Sanchez, a nurse at New York University's Langone Medical Center for helping save the hospital infants during Hurricane Sandy which hit U.S. last year.

"We were sent here to look out for our fellow Americans in the same way they look out for one another every single day, usually without fanfare all across the country," Obama said.

"We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, she wasn't thinking about how her own home was faring," the U.S. President added.

"Her mind was on the 20 precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe," he said further.

Sanchez, who was born and raised in the Philippines, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s and has worked as a nurse in New York for more than 25 years, the White House blog said.

She was present during Obama's speech before the joint session of the U.S. Congress, sitting in the viewing box with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Being invited to sit in the U.S. viewing box, the White House blog said, is an honor reserved for "extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the State of the Union Address."

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The tradition has been followed for nearly three decades.

In an earlier interview New York's WCBS 880, Sanchez said she was personally able to make four transports of babies on the night her hospital power was shut down for Hurricane Sandy.

A team of nurses had to work carry the infants down eight flights of stairs with cell phones to light the way, she added.

"I have a baby in my hands with a breathing tube in and I was thinking, 'if I'm going to miss just one step, everybody will fall with me," Sanchez said.

Asked how she felt about meeting the first couple, Sanchez said: "I'm very, very excited. Once in a lifetime, I don't think I will be able to see them or meet them again."

Sanchez now lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children who are both in college.

Aside from Sanchez, 24 others who sat in the U.S. First Lady's viewing box--teachers, entrepreneurs and innovators, the White House blog said.

Related story: Obama challenges 'divided' Congress

Among them were Alan Aleman, an immigrant from Mexico, who was among the first to avail of Obama's program for undocumented youth.

Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old lady who encourages others to cast their ballots, was also honored.

So was 12-year-old Haile Thomas, who sits as a youth advisory board member of a U.S. nonprofit organization promoting the welfare of young Americans.

Related slideshow: Barack Obama

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