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Gone are the days when the heroes that we recognize are dead. Today, we have seen countless men and women who’ve offered their time, talents, and services to help other people. Being a person for others is the greatest achievement you can ever accomplish; that through your selfless actions, you have done your part to change society for the better.
This has been the direction of RFM Foundation in its annual search for the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. My dad started the initiative on June 19, 1961 because of his admiration for Dr. Jose Rizal and his desire to continue our national hero’s legacy through the Filipino youth. Despite being on hiatus for almost 20 years because of Martial Law, we revived TOSP in 1989, and it further expanded in the country by conducting regional searches. Today, it is my sister Marie who is running the foundation, and she makes sure that it stays true to the roots of what my dad envisioned it to become — to encourage the youth to be inspired and get involved in any way they could.
The process of selecting the 10 outstanding students of the Philippines is tedious. It takes around three screenings within the respective regions before it reaches the National Screening Assembly, which is a gathering of notable people from seven areas, namely: Accountancy; Agriculture, Science, and Math; Business, Economics, Industry and Entrepreneurship; Engineering, Architecture, Maritime, and Information Technology; Humanities, Communication and Social Sciences; Medicine and Health-Related Professions; and Teacher Education.
This year, around 243 entries were submitted for regional screening, 87 of which were screened by the assembly to select the top 30 finalists. Our national screeners included COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, Philippine Marketing Association president Gwenn Albarracin, NYC Usec. Leon Flores, the national chair of the Board of Optometry Dr. Vivian Sarabia, and RockEd director Gang Badoy-Capati.
Over time, RFM Foundation has started to respond to the call of producing better role models for the youth. At this point, TOSP is not just about recognizing students who have shown academic excellence, we are now gearing towards looking for the next leaders who have actively shown their participation in nation building. We are looking for a new breed of bayani — someone who has shown academic and professional excellence, leadership and social responsibility anchored on good moral values.
The selection of this year’s Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines will be on July 31, and the awarding ceremonies will be on Aug. 2 at the Malacañang Palace. President P-Noy will be there to personally award these young individuals. At this point, let me share a short background of the 30 national finalists.
Kenneth Isaiah I. Abante of Naga graduated cum laude from the Ateneo de Manila University, and is also a program awardee of the John Gokongwei School of Management. Cebu’s Michael Angelo M. Abarcar is the managing director of the “Gasa sa Guso,” an integrated education-entrepreneurship initiative in coastal communities founded in 2012. Eastern Samar’s Jufran C. Agustin was Leyte Normal University’s Supreme Student Council president and student regent for two consecutive years. Randell T. Aranza, who hails from Bacolod, was one of the Top 100 Most Insightful in the 2011 International Essay Contest for Young People. Another Cebuano, Ramon Matthew R. Basabe, has been a spokesperson for different organizations, including DepEd’s Center for Students and Co-curricular Affairs-Visayas.
Nesie Fe G. Binatero of Bohol has proven her leadership skills, gaining several awards, including the Gov. Edgar Chatto Gold Medal Award. DLSU’s Angelita A. Bombarda was a Young Journalist Merit Winner at the ASEAN Green Technology Journalism Awards. Ma. Clarissa Lavena A. Bombase, who graduated magna cum laude from the University of Nueva Caceres, was one of the 2012 Ten Outstanding Students of Bicol. Camarines Sur’s Bobby S. Caceres has organized several community-based projects related with people empowerment and the environment. Aliza B. Castro of Benguet has been a delegate in the 12th International Youth Day of the United Nations Association of the Philippines.
Also on the list is Jerome V. David, who is the Philippine representative to the 2011 ASEAN Youth Forum & Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. Bataan’s Lawrence Charlemagne G. David has been an editor of the Bataan Peninsula State University’s official school publication for five years. John Michael FL. Dellariarte is the chairman of I Can Make a Difference, a movement that aims to teach waste management in rural areas. Joshua Eleazar P. Domen of Dumaguete City is a student teacher under a program of Paulinian Volunteers for Commentary Development. Meanwhile, Ateneo de Naga’s budding entrepreneur Daniel Philip V. Dy started his own Mr. Kengkoy Backpacks in 2010.
Marville Cullen P. Espago is the president of Maritime Research and Extension Services Circle, an organization inside his university that participates in outreach and medical programs. Cesar E. Higoy, who graduated summa cum laude, is the co-founder of Innovative Development through Engineering and Architecture Students in St. Louis University. Another finalist is Batangas’ Benny Mart R. Hiwatig, who is a Philippine Delegate to Sunburst Youth Camp 2009, organized by the Singapore Technologies’ Endowment Program. Ma. Shiril A. Jalad-Armero, a doctor who hails from Cebu, considers motherhood as one of her personal achievements. Ridwan N. Landasan of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan was part of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program funded by the US Department of State and administered by World Learning and the Fulbright Commission.
Rizal’s Jay-R M. Mendoza is an Outstanding Student Teacher awardee of the University of Rizal System. Ruthell A. Moreno is the founder and president of the Lupus Support Group of Panay from 2008 to present. Ifugao’s pride Reynaldo G. Nalliw was a youth ambassador in the 35th SSEAYP in 2008. Maria Janua B. Polinar of Central Mindanao University has involved herself in citizen voter’s education through organizations like the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms. Meanwhile, Danilo V. Rogayan Jr. of Zambales is an Outstanding Youth Leader for Environment awardee of the United Nations Association of the Philippines.
Quezon City’s Kurt Gerrard T. See is the assistant chief adjudicator at the 32nd World Universities Debate Championship, which was held here in the Philippines. Mitz S. Serofia of West Visayas was the founding president of the Society of Integrated Bearers of Life of West Visayas State University. Michiko S. Takemori was the Outstanding Delegate of the 36th YMCA National Congress of College Students in 2011. Juan Carlo P. Tejano of the University of the Philippines was a recipient of the Gawad Chanselor Para Sa Natatanging Mag-aaral in 2012. Lastly, Pampanga’s Mark Gil D. Tuazon is a certified Microsoft specialist and National Certificate II holder for computer hardware servicing.