To my fellow Lasallians, a very special afternoon! I would like to give my biggest and sincerest congratulations to everyone for this recognition. A recognition we never thought we would receive because I am so sure that when we volunteered and chose to serve our community, receiving any awards or recognition was never our priority–it was always the people first.
To our loved ones we invited today, thank you so much for your support as we act on the mission appointed to us. To our awardees, let’s say a short appreciation to them.
Brother President Bernard Oca, Dean Christine Ballada, Ms. Fritzie DeVera, SLIFE Director Christopher Villanueva, and to our esteemed guests, a good afternoon.
Before I start my response on behalf of all the Gawad awardees, I would like to share my thought process or my research on what Gawad Ortigas symbolizes. It says, “it is given to the student leader who, amid personal responsibilities, displays strong leadership imbued with true Lasallian values, academic excellence, and indefatigable service to the community.”
What struck me the most were the phrases “amid personal responsibilities” and “indefatigable service.” In Filipino, “walang kapagurang paglilingkod sa kabila ng mga personal na tungkulin at responsibilidad.” I suddenly thought of my own experiences as well as the officers I met along the way.
Our hardships in the past two to three years were no joke. We all have been through difficult times, facing our challenges: Loneliness, financial challenges, adjusting to online learning, losing our loved ones, and so on. Even watching or checking the news on social media puts a heavy weight on our shoulders. These are just some of the challenges we faced personally. To some, I know you have been through much worse.
I want to share my admiration for one of our nominees for the Gawad Ortigas tonight. His life story and leadership journey inspired me so much. He was our first batch vice president, batch president, and former Arts College Government president. He had three years of service in the university, but no one knew the things he had been through in those years. It was in 2021 when he took care of his father while serving our batch at the same time. He would have his meetings at the hospital with a poor internet connection. When he took care of his father, he also cared for our batchmates—attending to numerous concerns and empowering our officers. What a leader. I thought, “Kung kinaya niya ang buhay, kaya ko rin.” His name is Verrick Sta. Ana.
For sure, we all know any Verricks at one point in our lives, or to some, it might even be ourselves. Walang kapagurang paglilingkod sa kabila ng mga personal na tungkulin at responsibilidad. He is one of the many people who inspired me to serve passionately and tirelessly. I can now see leaders in the audience who inspired me as well. Kay sarap maging isang Lasallian leader. Despite the challenges we face every day, we still choose to serve.
That is why from the bottom of my heart, I am sharing the Gawad Ortigas award with all of us. During the years I served in the student government, I built relationships with many of our students. Lasallians have opened my eyes to the realities we all face. And that despite the challenges, we continued to stand up, face the present, and hope for the future.
We never said yes to our position. We said yes to service with a purpose in mind, a heart to serve, and hands ready to help. Gawad Lasalyano is more than just a recognition for us. It is a recognition for all the leaders who inspired and helped us and the people and community we continue fighting for.
To be continued.
The author is a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in Economic Studies graduate from De La Salle University. She was the Francisco V. Ortigas, Jr. Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader awardee during the Gawad Lasalyano Awards 2022. This column was her speech during the awarding ceremonies on March 8, 2022. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.