If at a young age, a group of men with white coats told you that your life had suddenly become more precious to the world and to yourself, meaning, you have a disease that the world could benefit from further study, and your life would probably last a third of everyone else’s, what would you do?
Say the men offered to give you free treatment for your genetic muscle disorder and a sum of money enough for you to live your life to the fullest in exchange for a right to test potentially life-saving and ending drugs on you and a non-disclosure agreement.
Obviously, you would have no choice; you would have to accept the offer. I, for one, would probably do the same. Like many, I would probably spend a third of the money on charity and the rest on my family and myself.
I would probably travel around the world to experience cultures, our diversity as people, and, of course, the food. I would also try a few things Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson wanted to do—see the pyramids, hunt a lion or hike Mt. Everest.
There are also a couple of things I would not do. I probably would not go to school. I won’t, or at least, refrain from the hassles in life—commuting, eating right and the like.
In other words, I would live a full life—one without regrets, enough not to question God and enough to stop myself from asking: out of almost a hundred million people in the country, why am I amongst the 500 who have this disease?
After I thought of everything I would have done if I were ever under that situation, I repeatedly asked myself: would I have done anything different? And then I asked myself, what would other people do?
They would probably do the same if they were presented with the same opportunity—to receive money for experimental treatment that they probably needed anyway.
Imagine my surprise and probably yours when I met one Lasallian who lived/or is living the exact situation either currently studying or a graduate who opted not to use the money. Instead of using the money for travels and for himself, he chose to establish an educational fund that would give public school students an opportunity to study to live a full life—one I hope this Lasallian would have.
What’s even more impressing is that he/she chose not to name the fund after him/her, unlike many we know today. Moreover, this person chooses to live a very simple life. He goes/went to school everyday despite his condition.
In fact, many would probably be surprised or not (because he is a very eccentric individual) that he has harbored his condition for so long. He commutes/commuted to school everyday and chose to live an ordinary student’s life, making the same mistakes like many students and owning up to them like many do not.
This person is exactly the kind of Lasallian we should all be, and he/she reminded me of the feeling I had when I first heard of the Gawad Lasalyano three years ago.
Gawad Lasalyano is an event that recognizes, “achievers and promotes excellence in the fields of leadership, sports, campus media, culture and arts, military service, discipline formation, faith formation, and community engagement.”
In other words, it celebrates the best of DLSU. The winners and even the nominees should embody, among other things such as academic and social competency, the Lasallian values of faith, zeal and communion in mission.
I thought to myself back then that the panel or the committee involved would probably have had a hard time deciding the winners. After all, how would they even find the people who really deserved the awards, and even if they find these people, how would they even know their full accomplishments?
Apparently, the Gawad Lasalyano system makes the task slightly easier. Gawad Lasalyano winners start as nominees and applicants. They then have to present their various accomplishments and defend it or answer a few questions from a distinguished panel. The process is very systematic much like an ISO certification or an advertisement award.
But while the thought of having a system to choose the best candidate was really comforting, somehow, it seemed inadequate. The Gawad Lasalyano is about accomplishment, but more than that, it is about recognizing the people who have the best intentions and who really embody the Lasallian ideals.
How then can we say that a person who has a well-documented project has more or better ideals than one who does not? Moreover, how can we even ensure that our criteria is enough to determine or judge a person’s core values when having a criteria in itself would limit a person’s ability to choose the right person?
Take for example a model student who either steals or does something not Lasallian outside the University’s jurisdiction. While he/she would pass the criteria, can we say that that kind of person deserves a Gawad?
I do not, however, think that all Gawad Lasalyano awardees did not deserve their awards. I am sure, and I am confident that many Lasallians, even the less popular ones, have done much for the community and for the Lasallian mission, but can we say that we have done enough to recognize the people who really deserve the award when we stick to clear processes?
Gawad Lasalyano is not an ISO certification program.