Obama praises Filipina nurse in State of the Union address

Posted at 02/13/2013 11:24 AM | Updated as of 02/19/2013 1:19 PM
First lady Michelle Obama is applauded by Menchu Sanchez (second from right) along with Dr. Jill Biden prior to U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union Speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013. Photo by Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

MANILA, Philippines - US President Barack Obama praised a Filipina nurse, who is considered one of the heroes of the Hurricane Sandy disaster, in his State of the Union address before the joint session of Congress in Washington D.C., Tuesday evening (Wednesday morning, Manila time). 

In his speech, Obama mentioned Menchu Sanchez, a nurse at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, as an example to all Americans.

"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. We should follow their example," he 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. Her mind was on the 20 precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe," the US president said. 

Sanchez was seated between First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, during the State of the Union address.

When President Obama mentioned Sanchez, the First Lady was seen nudging Sanchez and smiling at her. 

Sanchez was invited by Obama for her role in saving 20 at-risk infants during the Hurricane Sandy disaster that devastated large parts of New York and New Jersey last year.

She devised a plan to transport 20 at-risk infants at the Langone Medical Center to intensive care units around the city.  She organized the nurses and doctors to carefully carry the babies down eight flights of stairs with only cell phones to light the way.  

Even as her own home was flooding, Sanchez thought only of protecting the babies in her care, the White House said.  

Sanchez was born, raised, and educated in the Philippines and she immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.   

She has worked as a nurse in New York for more than 25 years, and has been at NYU since 2010.  

Sanchez currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children, both of whom are in college. - With report from Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN News