Monday, August 23, 2010

UP-Mindanao co-ed wins 'Dear P-Noy...' Letter-Writing Contest; Ateneo de Zamboanga student places 2nd

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - A second year BA English (Major in Creative Writing) student of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao bested 120 other letter-senders or 19 co-finalists in the recently-concluded 'Dear P-Noy...' Letter-Writing Contest.

The 16-year old Julie Kristine de Guzman, of Tagum City joined the contest and sent her entry by e-mail to, along with other youth from Mindanao, in a hope to be able to air to President Noy Aquino her dreams for Mindanao.

The writing tilt was organized by the Voice of Mindanao, a youth organization composed of the young from various parts of Mindanao, who are bonding together to share visions and hopes for the land of their birth here in southern Philippines, in partnership with the People Power Volunteer Center-Zamboanga City.

"Tulungan mong maiangat ang pangalang Mindanao mula sa kanyang pagkalugmok. Tutukan din sana ng iyong gobyerno ang pagsasaayos ng mga imprastruktura para sa transportasyon, turismo at pangangalakal dito sa Mindanao sapagkat lubusan na kaming naiiwan sa pag-unlad," Julie appealed to the President in her letter.

The 17-year old Mikaela Joyce Somera, a BS Mass Comm. student of the Ateneo De Zamboanga University, placed second. In her letter, she shared with P-Noy, "I dream that one day, I would be walking confidently to school without having to worry if a bomb might blow off somewhere near me. I dream that one day, no Mindanaoan youth would be going to school with the fear that they might be kidnapped. I dream that one day, no media practitioner will die for voicing out the truth. I hope that one day, every politician would find in their hearts the true essence of public service."

"I dream of a united Mindanao. I dream of a Mindanao that is one in its vision to prosper--for this thing cannot be done by one person only. It cannot be done by a few. And this dream will come true only if every Mindanaoan will work together in unity for the progress of Mindanao," Mikaela wrote.

"Mapayabong pa sana ang mga produktong likas sa Mindanao upang magsilbing pang-akit sa mga turista maging sa mga negosyante na magsisilbing daan upang mapayabong ang ekonomiya ng bansa. Sana'y magkaroon ng ngiti sa bawat labi ng taga-Mindanao ngayon at bukas," Julie penned.

To third placer Ma. Teresa Carmela Cruz, an AB Mass Comm. sophomore of the Western Mindanao State University, being among the contest winners "changed my life completely." In her letter to P-Noy, she said, "I'm not a seer but I do believe that peace and development is possible with you as our leader and if we all help one another. It is a laborious dream but, if we, the young people of Mindanao will begin the change in ourselves then, we can fulfill our dreams and hope again Peace in Mindanao is possible."

The project was conceived by 16-year old Deorenzie Frances Ramos, president of the Voice of Mindanao. Frances, an International Studies freshman of the Ateneo De Zamboanga University, said it was "just timely since P-Noy is starting his term, and we see in him a leader of a nation who is willing to listen to his people. His mention of Mindanao in his inaugural address inspires us Mindanao youth and gives us hope that southern Philippines has a place in his heart not just as a political territory but as a home of Pinoys he as P-Noy wants to serve. We see hope for a real change for Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines under his leadership."

PPVC-Zamboanga President Dr. Anton Mari Lim saw the enthusiasm of the young, and willingly supported the cause. "We are just glad to be of help," Lim said.

The writing contest is also backed by Smart Communications, which is one of the few companies that do extension projects as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility. Smart has provided support to various schools in Mindanao, adopting some schools, and providing educational materials and even technology support directly or through the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), of which it is a member. Smart at the event was represented by Ms. Lalaine Daguno, Smart Officer-In-Charge for Community Care Projects, and Ms. Matet Macadaan, Distributor Business Manager for Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Other partners are the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network, MIST-Philippines, the Mein College Language Center which provided the translations for entries written in Mindanao languages, Bloomingdale's Department Store in Zamboanga City, Mindanao Bloggers Association, Philippine Information Agency, MindaNews, and Mindanao media for the information dissemination.

"This is a Mindanao-wide effort," Frances of VoM said. The contest kicked off on August 1, the death anniversary of President Cory Aquino, and winners were proclaimed on August 20, the 3rd anniversary of the Voice of Mindanao. PPVC presented the letters to P-Noy on August 21, the death anniversary of Sen. Ninoy Aquino.

"We did not give cash prizes, and we are happy to share that the gifts from VoM and our partners were hardly the motivating factor for the participants. They all simply wanted to share with P-Noy what they thought. And that is very clear, because we only announced the prizes when judging started," Frances said.

Other winners are Farisia Buhari, Krystel Audrey Wertle, and Kenneth Varquez.

The final level was adjudged by Ms. Viel Aquino-Dee (Chairman) of the PPVC, Mr. Christian Olasiman, head of the Noy Yo! Movement in Zamboanga City; Ryan Rosauro, secretary-general of the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network; Frencie Carreon, program head of the Voice of Mindanao, and Carol Arguillas, editor-in-chief of MindaNews.

The full text of the winning letters are posted in sites of Mindanao bloggers.

PPVC's Lim said the President will respond to the letters after his receipt last Friday. As winner Julie said, "Magsilbi sanang tulay ang liham na ito upang marinig mo ang pangarap naming mga taga-Mindanao."

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