Saturday, August 23, 2008 | Ramon Magsaysay Essay Contest

An Interview with Inquirer. About two days ago, I was talking with one of their journalists. He still came from out of town, since he was following the news of war. He was a Journalism graduate, and had worked previously with other newspapers as well. I found it inspiring that journalists are really dedicated to their work and writing, as I'm also aiming to be a very great writer...Only on a different genre--novels and such.

I just learned that the events at the Ramon Magsaysay Essay contest I joined in were reported at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of the nation's leading newspaper, last June 30, 2008 in their Learning section. They are also working on an article about us, which they are hoping to publish today. Inquirer is one of the sponsors for the RMAF essay contest.

This is the news article from June 30, 2008: You may view the original article here: RM student essay tilt winners inspired by awardees.

"RM student essay tilt winners inspired by awardees

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:57am (Mla time) 06/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines—A high school coed from Manila and a college student from Mindanao won this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Student Essay Competition.

At ceremonies held at the RM Center in Manila last Thursday, the RM Award Foundation said the grand prize for its 5th cycle competition went to Kate Lynn Heceta of O.B. Montessori for the high school level, and Oliver Lemuel Villegas of the University of the Philippines Mindanao for the college level.

The two won over a roster of regional finalists. They each received P50,000 in cash and an airline ticket to any destination in the country.

All the finalists, in their capacity as regional winners, each received a personal computer. The high school finalists included Desiree Sokoken, Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School (Luzon); Melisssa Adrienne Aquino, University of St. La Salle-Integrated School in Bacolod (Visayas) and Allen Mallari, Labo City National High School, Ozamis City (Mindanao).

The college level finalists included Eleanor Balaquiao, Ateneo de Naga University in Bicol (Luzon) and Elaine Marie Latonio, University of the Philippines in Diliman (NCR). No finalist qualified from the Visayas.

The foundation, whose RM Awards are Asia’s counterpart of the Nobel Prize, asked the students to write about a Magsaysay laureate who had inspired them to make a difference in the lives of others.

Not about boys vs girls

Heceta wrote “Kiram Bedi: Proud to be a Woman,” a tribute to India’s highest ranking female police officer and 1994 RM awardee for Government Service for her work on prisons improvement.

Heceta wrote that the story of Bedi taught her that feminism was “far from being about boys versus girls, feminism is making no distinction between ‘men jobs’ and ‘women jobs.’ It’s about knowing your rights and knowing when these rights are being violated. It’s about earning respect, not because of gender, but because it is truly deserved.”

Villegas, wrote “The Autobiography of a Leper: Healing a Heart,” about 1985 RM awardee for Public Service Murlidhar Devidas Amte.

Villegas agreed with Amte, who was cited for his work in the leper communities in India, that there is another kind of leprosy today, a “mental leprosy” imposed by discrimination, indifference and apathy.

Mental leprosy stronger

Wrote Villegas: “This mental leprosy has been ever present in the past, and it remains so strongly even today … Perhaps more familiar and recent to us are the indigenous people being forced out of their ancestral lands, abused women fighting for their rights, the Filipino poor who suffer even as a few enjoy the luxuries of life, Muslims stigmatized as terrorists, homosexuals branded by society, and senior citizens cast off from the family.”

During the award ceremonies, young celebrity KC Concepcion in her capacity as the World Food Program National Ambassador Against Hunger, congratulated the participants for providing “a breath of fresh air in this day and age when our fellow youth have gone apathetic and jaded.”

She said RM awardees were helping to “feed the hunger of the young for role models and inspiration for a future of meaningful service to humanity.”

The RM Award has been honoring individuals and organizations across Asia since 1958 when the first awards were given out. The award was established in 1957 following the tragic death of the much-admired Filipino President Ramon Magsaysay. Among the 263 laureates who have been honored were National Artist Nick Joaquin, F. Sionil Jose and Philippine Daily Inquirer founder Eugenia Apostol."

I'm excited to read today's issue.

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