The Saguisag Quezon Award

ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - August 30, 2008 - 12:00am

August is not only a month of remembering our heroes, it is also the month of honoring two Presidents who lived in different periods but converge on the 31st of August with appropriate ceremonies. Ramon Magsaysay remains alive with an award that has become regarded as the Nobel Prize in Asia since it was set up 50 years ago. Tomorrow, before the end of August, Manuel Luis Quezon considered the father of our national language who first tackled the huge problem of landless peasants and fought for the passage of the Tydings Mc Duffie Act of 1934 that provided for full independence for the Philippines, will be honored with the institutionalization of the Gawad Sagisag Quezon. This will be bestowed on distinguished men and women whose lives and work have promoted the effective use of our national language as they fight for justice focused on equalizing opportunities for the poor. It was Magsaysay who transferred the observance of wika from April to August, recognizing it as the month when President Quezon was born on August 19, 1878 in Baler, Quezon and died in August 1944.

The Quezon Award is initiated by the committee in charge of the celebration of the Month of Wika chaired by KWF Commissioner Jose Laderas Santos, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Bulacan chapter headed by Atty. Pete Principe and Quezon City Academy president Professor Tomas Ongoco. This is also in line with the declaration by the UNESCO of 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

The first set of awardees are: Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, a brilliant advocate of Human Rights who is cited for underscoring the value of language in ensuring wider access to justice for the Filipinos. His concept of operationalizing “justice on wheels” shows his deep concern for the poor. His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales is recognized for his vital leadership in the Catholic Church in propagating the national language before his devotees, stressing compassion and concern as a vital formula in addressing poverty with the creation of “Pondo Pinoy”. Secretary Heherson Alvarez is a champion of wika and the environment in the halls of the Senate and Congress where he served crafting laws that advanced the rights of the poor through agrarian reform, cooperatives, environment, culture, welfare of overseas Pinoys and indigenous peoples and other social reform programs that are now publicly debated in his TV program “Equilibrium,” DepEd Usec. Vilma L. Labrador, currently NCCA chairperson and member of UNESCO’s International Conciliation Committee is cited through her four decades of service to education as a teacher and administrator, promoting our national language together with the mother tongue for effective early childhood learning as well as the use of English for global competitiveness. Tiya Dely Magpayo of DZRH is the radio announcer whose use of the national language made her a legend in the air with her golden voice and her wise but practical advices twinned with the promotion of the kundiman. Carlo J. and Donna Caparas manifests a husband and wife team’s unique triumph in the field of cinema, television and comics in popularizing Filipino. Another worthy awardee is Dr. Emilio Yap with his consistent publication of different magazines in the national language while encouraging mother tongues of our nation through Liwayway, Banawag, Bisaya and Hiligaynon. The chief of the Public Attorney’s Office, Perside Rueda Acosta is among the honorees with her commitment to help poor litigants by providing them with lawyers. We salute these awardees and organizers of the Gawad Saguisag Quezon.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who herself speaks three eloquent languages: Pilipino, English and Spanish, with an ability to communicate in local languages particularly Kapangpangan, Cebuano and Pangasinense, sent a special congratulatory message to the organizers and best wishes to the awardees for their outstanding achievements in eliciting greater respect and appreciation through animation of the effective use of language. Their work effectively projects our country’s identity from the regional, to national and to global arena, thereby nourishing our cultural heritage and national identity, leading to unity towards peace and sustainable development.

We applaud this historic gesture of caring for our language exemplified by Quezon and now evident in the endeavors of the 2008 selected heroes of language. Let me recall a stanza from declamation piece of Marciano Samartin Jr. used by schools for language month.

“Wikang Pilipino Tilamsik ng Talino
ng ating mga bayani at mga ninuno
Itinatag in Quezon na pambansang wika ito
Upang sa Pilipinas magkaisa lahat ng tao.”

And we must not forget what Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, stated: “Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda.”

Don’t miss this inspirational awarding ceremonies that will be broadcast in “Sining Gising” at NBN 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, 31st of August.

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