The Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines is a continuing vision of two Jose’s, born in different generations under different circumstances.
The first Jose paved the way for independence and died by firing squad. Jose Rizal lived and died a hero whose nationalism was instilled by a household who called him Pepe.
Sixty-five years later, a visionary who was aware of Rizal’s unwavering conviction on the Filipino youth as the fair hope of motherland, commenced a Rizal-inspired awards-program to honor the tertiary students who are exemplars and leaders in the academic field and in their contributions to society, with the hope of inspiring others. Thus, on the 100th birthday of Rizal, 1961, the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) was aptly established. Jose S. Concepcion, Jr. is a modern-day hero whose idealism continues to fuel the youth, who have learned much from his example as Joecon.
Fifty-one years after, TOSP continues to be stirringly relevant, both as an awards program and a youth movement.
This year, much has been said about TOSP. From the stolen kiss from the President of the Philippines to the celebratory Choosing Leadersfeature of Maria Ressa, the news about this year’s selection was positively trending, that it even landed a page in Vietnamese and San Diego-based newspapers. And thanks to Maria Ressa, their quotable quotes during the National Interview and Judging made the tag ‘#TOSP’ trending in Twitter.
But there are behind-the-scenes stories that barely reached the pages of national news or get into the trending topic of the social media. These stories were beautifully hidden in the youth activities, written essays, and featured stories compiled in a bid book submitted to the TOSP National Secretariat by this year’s TOSP awardees. And these stories inspired and moved the notable and prominent Filipino leaders who composed this year’s National Screening Assembly and Judging and Interview Committee to tears. These young individuals gave them a glimpse of what these future leaders can do and affirmed their individual beliefs that indeed, change is happening.
His Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino III, with 2012 TOSP Executive Committee Members and 2012 TOSP Awardees. Second row: JC Tejano, John Michael Dellariarte, Angel Bombarda, Kenneth Abante, Maria Janua Padua, Ruthell Moreno, Jerome David, Kurt See, Jay-R Mendoza and Daniel Dy.
Kenneth Isaiah I. Abante
BS Management Engineering, Minor in Philosophy | Ateneo de Manila University
A class valedictorian from grade school to college, Kenneth views excellence as a means to serve. Despite graduating as Ateneo’s Class Valedictorian, he opted to work with the government instead of the private sector as a step closer to his 10-year goal of going back to Bicol to organize local industries and enterprises.
Angelita A. Bombarda
BS Psychology | De La Salle University
As a scholar and fellow of various journalism programs from New York Times to Singapore Management University, Angel is a firm believer in Jose Rizal’s ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’ She sees her passion in writing as a contribution to society, having recently bagged the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award with her essay, On Being Filipino: A Citizen of the World.
Jerome V. David
BS Industrial Management Engineering | De La Salle University
Jerome has represented the Philippines in a variety of international assemblies such as the ASEAN Youth Forum and made his country proud being the ‘voice of the youth.’ To make sure that he professionalizes his passion for his profession, he helped developed leadership capacities of industrial engineering students nationwide.
John Michael F. Dellariarte
Doctor of Medicine | Ateneo de Zamboanga University – School of Medicine
Mike set up the Halfway House Project for expectant mothers made out of PET bottles. His floating ambulance project has transported sick people from one side of town to the health center located on the opposite side of the lake. He has facilitated the creation of yellow boats, which brought the children across the lake so they can go to school.
Daniel Philip V. Dy
BS Business Administration, Major in Management Honors’ Program | Ateneo de Naga University
Passionate about promoting Bicol’s indigenous materials, Scud volunteered his time and resources in co-founding Mr. Kengkoy, a social enterprise which advocates for culture preservation. He has helped mothers in Brgy. Masnog have a sustainable livelihood. He is proud of their organic backpacks that were woven by the mothers living at the foot of the beautiful Mayon volcano.
Jay-r M. Mendoza
Bachelor of Secondary Education, Major in Mathematics | University of Rizal System – Morong Campus
Migo founded the Leaders in Motion, which aims to change the political landscape for the youth in the province of Rizal. With this endeavor, the residents of Rizal can be assured that their young leaders are capable of providing a principle-centered leadership and good governance.
Ruthell A. Moreno
Bachelor in Special Education, Major in Teaching Children with Mental Retardation | West Visayas State University
Inflicted with lupus, Ruthell did not allow this to stop her from touching people’s lives. She paid for miscellaneous school fees and supplies for five indigent students at the San Fernando Elementary School and sponsored school supplies of 20 indigent elementary students. To make sure that lupus patients are surviving the signs and symptoms of the disease, she established the Lupus Support Group of Panay, Incorporated.
Maria Janua B. Polinar
AB Political Science | Central Mindanao University
Janua was brave enough to admit that she was sent to school by the leftists to recruit new members, but was bravest to switch, clamor and push for good societal change. She moved for electoral reforms through various education initiatives and led efforts to combat rising prevalence of drug addiction in her community.
Kurt Gerrard T. See
BS Applied Economics | De La Salle University – Manila
Kurt entered debate in college to help him with stage fright and stammering, and he ended up as one of the Top Ten Best Speakers in Asia. Through debate, he continuously rekindles social consciousness and empathy among the youth. He has been instrumental in empowering aspiring young students to be good debaters as well through his active community involvement setting up the Balboa Cup of the Children’s Museum and Library, Inc., the Binondo Schools Debate Camp and the Filipino-Chinese Debate Consortium.
Juan Carlo P. Tejano
BA Political Science | University of the Philippines – Diliman
JC has dared to question the status quo. Motivated by an inner drive to protect the rights of the marginalized, he has risen up to the challenges of setting up an opposition political party in his university to advocate a variety of causes. As a student funded by the Filipino people, he strongly believes that it is his personal duty and obligation to become an iskolar para sa bayan.
Indeed, the shining example of Pepe and the motivation of Joecon to leave a youth legacy called TOSP are lived out by these youth leaders who are the hope of the youth. And just like Pepe and Joecon, these young leaders will soon be a household name synonymous to a life led, learned and servedfor a cause greater than one’s self.
Special thanks to The Outstanding Students of the Philippines Alumni Community: Pamela Asis-Layugan and Johncy Concepcion for the impact statements and Mina Akram for the Malacañan photo.