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Writer’s Recap: Turning chapters with outstanding journalists at the 17th Lasallian Scholarum Awards

In this uncertain age where widespread social media disinformation threatens the upcoming national elections, the pursuit for truth has never been more urgent. As DLSU President Br. Bernard Oca FSC said in his opening remarks, “What we gather in the news serves as lampposts in our journey to the future.” This was the mission that was endorsed during 17th Lasallian Scholarum Awards (LSA) held last Wednesday, March 9. 

DLSU’s Office for Strategic Communications recognized the role of journalists as sentinels of the truth, honoring outstanding professional and student media coverage of youth and education stories. Through these means, “[We] continue to recognize the challenging work of our media partners in seeking truth and excellence in their stories,” Oca furthered.

But LSA isn’t just about honoring the media—it’s about honoring the youth of tomorrow. With the LSA’s theme of “Kabanata ng Kabataan”, event host Justin Quirino aptly reminded, “This year is indeed a new chapter—hindi lang [para] sa kabataan, kung hindi [para] sa ating bansa amid the battle against COVID-19 and the upcoming elections in May.”

(This year is indeed a new chapter—not just for the youth, but also for our country amid the battle against COVID-19 and the upcoming elections in May.)

Crucial chapters

In today’s fervent sociopolitical atmosphere, the event’s keynote speaker and ASEAN Youth Advocates Network’s founder Emmanuel Mirus Ponon explained that the awards help recognize the cruciality of the youth and education in national development. “[LSA] points out one thing—we (the youth) are progressing and advancing,” he illustrated.  “I would describe [that today’s youth are] not only the hope of the future, but also the hope and solution of today.” 

Given its prestige, LSA follows a meticulous screening process; independent media-monitoring agency Isentia screened the eligible youth and education stories across local collegiate and professional print, webpage, and broadcast works released from November 2020 to October 2021.

Alongside this agency, this year’s LSA board of judges included Signum Fidei Association National Brother Adviser and DLSU Senior High School faculty member Br. Richie Yap FSC, PHINMA Corporation Vice President Danielle Rosario, Youth Leadership for Democracy Chief of Party Natalie Christine Jorge, freelance producer and writer Lolita Lachica, and Ponon himself. 

In pursuit of excellence

National issues are at the forefront of journalism, and while  horrifying and upsetting at times, these issues and truths about our country must be unveiled. One News reporter Neil Jayson Servallos’s DIGITAL SEX CRIMES IN ASIA: The Filipino Mothers Selling Their Children For Online Sexual Abuse, winner of the Outstanding Online Feature on Youth and Education category, uncovered how the already present sexual exploitation of children worsened at the advent of the pandemic, with mothers selling their children in hopes of alleviating the family’s financial struggles. 

In a similar vein, Atom Araullo’s Munting Bisig, Outstanding Video Feature Story on Youth and Education winner, followed children who are deployed for child labor amid the pandemic. The documentary tackled the need for these individuals to financially support their families, even if it meant risking their own health and safety.

To understand these issues, awareness and education is of utmost importance. However, even our source of proper education has its own volatility. Seeking justice: The uphill battle for safer spaces in academic institutions, written by The LaSallian’s Alexandra Simone Enriquez and Criscela Ysabelle Racelis and winner of the Outstanding Published Feature Article on Youth and Education in a School Organ category, pleaded for academic institutions to address the gaps and flaws in their systems that should prevent sexual abuse from happening within these spaces. Because if students cannot feel safe in their schools, can it really be called our second home?

We all cannot wait for the day when we can safely roam our school halls once again. But it is also undeniable that even with the return of the face-to-face setting, the delivery of learning modules online are here to stay. Rizal Raoul Reyes, Caludeth Mocon-Ciriaco, and Mike Policarpio of Business Mirror proved this in their piece, ‘Old-school’ ways a thing of the past, as pandemic paves new learning landscapes, which won Outstanding Published Feature Article on Youth and Education in a Nationally Circulated Publication.

But youth and education are not just limited to students and children themselves. Behind an educated youth lies the mentors—those who guide them and hone their skills to the best it can be. Kara David’s Pandemic Teachers, a special commendation recipient in the Outstanding Video Feature Story on Youth and Education category, featured these unsung heroes, the struggles they faced, and their strengths that persevered nonetheless.

Finally, LSA was capped off by recognizing the prowess and determination of the Lasallian community. The University’s efforts in pushing for deeper analysis structures in reforming Philippine education were acknowledged in Noel Pabalate’s DLSU researchers use machine learning for a deeper mining of data from international assessments, attaining special commendation in the Outstanding Published Feature Story on De La Salle University category. Meanwhile, the admirable stories of three notable Lasallian heroes who fought against military rule and advocated for non-violence despite the oppressive climate of Martial Law warranted the win of Aurora Quadra-Balibay’s Lasallian heroes against Martial Law honored on International Day of Peace under the same division.

The road less traveled

While articles and documentaries remain to be the centerpieces of these awarding ceremonies, we should not forget the people behind them—journalists who trek a bumpy and dusty road to convey these untold stories. Aside from written or visual means, these stories are also told by professional media practitioners who continuously inspire the Filipino masses. Because of this, LSA will be releasing a new category for its future proceedings: the Outstanding Media Personality award which seeks to honor these role models.

LSA is only one of the many platforms that continue to cultivate the pursuit of truth. In a world fraught with problems, it becomes all the more imperative for people—especially the youth—to take up the torch lit by countless individuals who paved the path toward journalistic excellence. 

It is our turn to trudge the road. As Ponon reminds, “Ang kabanata ng kabataan ay papel sa kaunlaran at kinabukasan ng ating minamahal na Pilipinas.”

(The chapter of the youth is the key to the progress and future of our beloved Philippines.)

By Therese Genota

By Alessandra Pauleen Gomez

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