Annual TOSIA honors Iloilo’s best youngsters

The Outstanding Students of Iloilo Awards (TOSIA) honorees with JCI Regatta officers and lawyer Chel Diokno, who was the award ceremony’s keynote speaker. (Joseph B.A. Marzan)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The annual The Outstanding Students of Iloilo Awards (TOSIA) program culminated on Sunday, July 10, honoring the best graduating junior high school and college students in the city and province of Iloilo for their scholarship and service to their school and community.

TOSIA 2022’s Top Circle, the cream of the crop, were named at a special ceremony at Robinsons Place Iloilo on Sunday, the first in-person event amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The 22 final awardees were determined based on their faithfulness to the TOSIA’s four pillars: academic excellence, leadership, community involvement, and faith.

The top high school honorees include Nicholas Luis Gonzaga from PAREF Westbridge School, Ces Akira Labordo from Iloilo National High School, and Carlos Manuel Eusoya, Leanne Clarisse Losañes, and Ellen Faye Ann Yabut from the Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas Campus.

Eusoya also bagged special awards including the TOSIA Scholar and TOSIA Writer special awards, with Gonzaga as TOSIA Worker, and Labordo as TOSIA Speaker and TOSIA Leader.

Earl John Delfin of the Iloilo City National High School, Hedda May Victoria Leonor, Nea Shane Malcontento of the Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School, and Beatrice Maureen Sanagustin of Hua Siong College of Iloilo also won each the Best Advocacy Video Medal.

Other TOSIA junior high school awardees include Zoe Andrea Feranco of the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Adamsso Tejereso of the Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School, and Seana Christel Tura of the Ateneo de Iloilo – Sta. Maria Catholic School.

College awardees in the top seed include Gabriel Mico Bondoc and Ro-Anne Lozada of Central Philippine University and Louela Marie Prado of West Visayas State University.

Lozada was also named into the TOSIA Hall of Fame for forming part of the awardees’ circle for the second time, the first as a junior high school student from the Lambunao National High School in 2016.

She also bagged three special awards, including TOSIA Leader, Scholar, and Speaker, while Prado garnered the TOSIA Worker award in the college category.

Other special awards for college honorees include Adelmar Javier Jr. of University of San Agustin (TOSIA Writer), and Zharina Marie Stephanie Lugo and Daryl Lutero of the Central Philippine University (both TOSIA Artisan and Best Advocacy Video).

The rest of the college TOSIA awardees include Roen Araña and Monela Orola of John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) – Molo campus, Christian Than-Ivan Guzman of JBLFMU-Arevalo campus, and Christian Angelo Leonor of St. Paul University Iloilo.

Four schools also received the TOSIA Elite award, for having fielded honorees in the past 5 years: Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School, PAREF Westbridge School, St. Joseph School, and John B. Lacson Maritime Foundation University-Molo campus.

Lawyer and former senatorial candidate Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno graced the event as keynote speaker.

Diokno gave somewhat of a history lesson in speaking about the role of the youth in nation-building, recalling the young ones who led the fight against the Spanish conquerors, in World War II, and in the Marcos Sr. regime.

These include the national hero Jose Rizal, who wrote Noli Me Tangere at the age of 23, and his niece Delfina Herbosa who was only 13 when she joined the Katipunan, among others.

“My father [the late former Sen. Jose Diokno] once said, our entire history as a people has been a quest for freedom and dignity, and we will not be denied our dreams. I believe in all of you, and I know that you will not be denied your dreams,” he addressed the awardees.

He also gave two requirements on what it means to be outstanding: having national consciousness and having a national conscience.

National consciousness for him refers to being conscious of the country’s history, the diversity of the people, the continued prevalence of poverty, and the environment.

National conscience, meanwhile, he said is based on 4 components: truth, justice, inclusiveness, and the dignity of every human being.

“I think [having national consciousness] is still insufficient. We need to have a national conscience[…] I was asked, what is the most challenging thing that we are facing today, and I believe it is disinformation and historical distortion. What can the youth do to address this challenge? There is so much that the youth can do to fight disinformation and promote the truth, it all depends on your creativity [and] how much you love the truth,” he said.

The 2022 TOSIA is organized by Junior Chamber International (JCI) Regatta in partnership with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.