Earlier this month, I accepted the challenge to be the regional champion for Central Visayas and regional executive committee member of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP).
The nod came after Edz Lopez, chairperson of the TOSP Alumni Community, narrated to me the developments of how the nation-building program has progressed in the last five years that I have been an inactive member.
For the 56th TOSP search, technically the 2017 search, Central Visayas had four representatives out of the 30 national finalists.
Of the four representatives, two became part of the Top 10. Alexander Bajarias of the University of San Carlos is one of them.
Just as the national awarding ceremony was wrapping up, the alumni community in Central Visayas, particularly those based in Cebu City, are running around town coordinating with partners and sponsors for the 57th or 2018 search.
For our partners and sponsors, it might be easy to look at TOSP as a search for the country’s smartest graduate. It is, after all, an honor for the individual and the school, by extension, to be called “outstanding.”
But for us in the alumni community, TOSP transcends the medal and the spotlight.
Being a TOSPian is a commitment to lead, learn and serve for life. It is a call to more innovative and strategic action so that we are not just brilliant thinkers but active implementers of the change that we want to see in the Philippines.
It was in 2007 that I became part of the community.
I was a Mass Communication graduate at the University of the Philippines Cebu, who was torn between pursuing a career in journalism or a job as a development worker.
Central Visayas has a regional search before we vie for the national round.
My batchmates and I gathered in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental 11 years ago with the thought that we will be grilled and judged by a panel as to who among the 20 regionalists will make it to the top 10.
But we did not anticipate that before the interview, there was a life-changing formation program that came before the fame. The TOSP Alumni Community is in charge in carrying out the annual formation program.
It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life; one that grounded me and brought me back to my core; an experience that made me understand my strengths and accept my weaknesses.
The formation program made me understand that while it is an honor to be named as one of the awardees, the journey of service and commitment does not end on awards night. The award is a challenge to do more for the community and to utilize it to create an impact within my own sphere of influence.
This is not to say that I am alone.
In TOSP, I earned friends in the kindred spirits whom I met in 2007. To this day, Ana Theressa Singcol (University of San Carlos), Richard Caluyo (St. Paul University Dumaguete) and Claudio Ramos II (Silliman University) are my closest friends.
I was inspired to write this as I saw the results of the Bar exam last Thursday. Two TOSPians from Central Visayas are now lawyers: my 2007 batchmate Nelson Bandoles and 2011 alumna Karla Marie Tumulak. In the same breath, I am also happy to read about the marriage of Miguel Garcia and Stacy Alcantara, who are from the 2009 TOSP batch.
I also wrote this four days after a nerve-wracking experience of presenting my thesis proposal to a panel of six professors from the UP Open University in Los Baños, Laguna.
I am reminded of my role in the greater scheme of things and why it is important to occasionally sacrifice sleep and family time.
In 2007, I was asked why we still need a TOSP search or an awards program for the youth. I answered that we need to have role models to look up to, who will inspire and motivate us in achieving our goals and aspiration.
TOSP provides that and more. Its mission remains strong over the years: to establish role models that will galvanize our young people into action and help bring about total human and economic development in the Nation.
I am privileged and humbled to be a member of the organization for 11 years and I commit to do my share in the movement for nation-building.
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