Together with National Artist Virgilio Almario, Manila Times editor-in-chief Fred dela Rosa, and Prof. Danton Remoto of the Ladlad Partylist – we judged entries to the 1st Blas F. Ople Essaywriting Contest.
Sponsored by the The Rotary Club of Ramon Magsaysay, the said competition was for students from the National Capital Region-based colleges and universities.
It was indeed a fitting tribute to the late Foreign Affairs Secretary and Senator Blas F. Ople -- the acknowledged “Father of Overseas Employment” -- who would have been 82 last February 3.
Present were Rotary International District 3810's outgoing District Gov. Josefina Ang and incoming Gov. Ma. Concepcion Beltran, Commission on Higher Education NCR Regional Director Amelia Biglete, and Teo Antonio who performed his poem for the celebrator.
University of Makati's Racel Brodeth, Mapua Institute of Technology's Allan Timothy Figueroa, University of the Philippines-Diliman's Jihad Karlo Mariano, and Technological Institute of the Philippines' Cherry Ann Rubio were proclaimed finalists who received a cash prize worth P5,000 and a certificate of recognition each.
No one made it to the Top Three.
One of the reasons was that they do not know Ka Blas that well.
Perhaps, they should dig deeper than the Google or Yahoo or Yehey level.
Or should have listened to the sharing earlier of his former associates like Ambassador Reynaldo Parungao and Director Fely Romero of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration whose building was renamed after Ka Blas.
Or should have interviewed first his youngest daughter Susan "Toots" Ople and her daughter, Estelle, our inaanak, who is carving a name for herself as a champion debater!
"It was our way of encouraging more students to study the life of Ka Blas, a self-made man who overcame poverty to become a statesman and a renowned intellectual," said president Rosie Oliveros of The Rotary Club of Ramon Magsaysay who promised to do it yearly with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute (BFOPCTI).
BFOPCTI has been our partner personally and professionally.
Toots, with her alter ego, Fort, used to sponsor, by way of their Citizens’ Drug Watch, our Poetry Therapy sessions with drug patients who became poets, eventually, at the National Bureau of Investigation's Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Tagaytay City from March to July in 2000.
When we were the director of Likhaan: the University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing, we were able to acquire electronic equipment through what we refer to as “Ople Money” which Ka Blas donated in 2003.
Our dream of coming up with an annual search for the Salita ng Taon, via Filipinas Institute of Translation, was made possible by Premio Ople since 2004.
Also, in 2004, BFOPCTI began the Tulay Program to broaden career opportunities for Overseas Filipino Workers and their dependents, to facilitate communication within families, and to help reintegrate OFWs into the economy upon their return.
They, too, have a campaign against human trafficking that was able to aid the repatriation of 17 trafficking victims from Syria, assist victims of illegal recruitment from Malaysia, among others.
After a year, they offered the Blas F. Ople Journalism and Information Technology Scholarship Program in cooperation with public relations practitioners and veteran writers from Samahang Balagtas that Ka Blas founded.
There was a time when they gave such unique courses as foreign affairs, Philippine history, computer literacy, and literature.
Then the Ople Shoes, that started in 2006 with just 20 shoe donations for public school children in his hometown in Hagonoy, Bulacan – but now they are able to give more shoes not just to students but to young cancer survivors at the Philippine Children's Medical Center charity ward.
They are today exploring the possibility of reviving Balagtasan, through workshops, contests, and tours, here and abroad.
On the side, they are waiting for the U.P. Open University for proposals in distance education which they can grant to OFWs, especially those affected by the crises.
Speaking of turning garbage into gold, let us share with you Ka Blas' keys to success:
Set a goal for one’s self. Most of mankind get born and die without ever knowing what they really want.
Develop a positive outlook in life. Problems are often opportunities in disguise. As someone has said, pessimism is just a state of mind but optimism is a strategy for living.
Develop an active, rather than a passive, view of one’s environment. Successful men do not merely wait for things to happen to them. They try to make things happen. They create their own challenges and opportunities.
Stand by one’s principles when life’s crises must be faced. The test of character, in the phrase of William James, is not in choosing the path of least resistance but the path of the greatest traction. The temptation to make the easy choice must be resisted. This merely means that most times, the harder choice is the correct one.
Be absolutely dependable and trustworthy, so that your own colleagues know that they can trust your integrity even in the most difficult moments. The trust of colleagues and subordinates is what can propel you to success.
Continue personal and professional growth. Most people stop growing after leaving school. Education is for life.
Live a frugal and disciplined life, shunning all forms of waste, whether of time, talent, money or other resources. Life itself is a finite and most precious gift, and wasting it through frivolity and self-indulgence must be offensive to the giver of life.
Tomorrow, at 6 p.m. right beside the old Ople's mansion along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City -- at the Conspiracy Garden Cafe -- there will be the University of the Philippines Child Development Center's Sharing The Night Together . Featured artists are Teachers Lovie Moneva, Nikki Unidad, Eya Oropilla, Charla Santiago, Nurai Atar, and, their chair, Dr. Yangky Agustin, with the CDC Parents. There will be Mommy/ Daddy Diaries – before Parents Teachers Association's Parangal.
Back-to-back with Teatro Pasiking's Ang Sistema ni Propesor Tuko. For ticket reservations, kindly call Boom Enriquez # 0915-3915941.
BUSINESS FORECAST FOR THE YEAR OF THE OX:
“The financial situation will be so bad that men will have more sex with their own wives.”
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Do not place your mistakes on your head, it can weigh you down and crush you.
Instead, place them under your feet and use them as a platform to view your horizon.