Friday, February 6, 2015


Anvils' President lead a delegation from the Anvil Business CLub (Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs) to cheer for one of our own members, Atty. Oscar Franklin Barcelona Tan, as he was feted with the prestigious TOYM Philippines: The Outstanding Young Men Awards during simple, yet majestic ceremonies at the Heroes' Hall of the Malacañan Palace. Anvils' President lead a delegation from the Having been personally involved in the TOYM Awards since 1999 – serving in varying roles as Deputy National Chairman, Publications Chairman and adviser for many years – I deem this year's ceremony as especially memorable, as yours truly accedes in being the prime culprit of goading and relentlessly pushing my good friend, fellow Xavier School alumnus (XS '97) and fellow former editor of our high school alma mater's alumni publication to try his luck in this nationally-renowned awards search.
Admittedly, when I first came across his name, I was incredibly awe-struck by this young achiever's sterling academic credentials (e.g. Ateneo de Manila University, cum laude with double-major in Ateneo’s two most difficult programs, Management Engineering and Economics Honors in 2001; University of the Philippines College of Law, where he set the law school's record of eight legal writing prizes and distinguished himself as the youngest Chairman of the Philippine Law Journal, graduating at the Top Ten of his 2005 Class; and Harvard Law School, having had the honor of being selected to speak at their commencement ceremonies to represent 700 graduates of Class of 2007). This latest recognition is but a shining testament to my long-held faith in my kindred compatriot's tremendous potential as one of society's brightest catalysts for positive change in the near future.
Junior Chamber International (JCI) Philippines 2014 National President, Jci Sen Christine Garcia opened the formal ceremony with her assertion that, "we are our own worst enemy," drawing her conclusions from her one-year stint in leading the 7,000 member-strong network of young Active Citizens. "I have seen two sides of the coin of what we Filipinos are made of," she opined. "One side of the coin depicts passivity and indifference reinforced by doubts and fears... our favorite post, hashtag and twit is to complain about how bad the country is. Yet we do not lift one finger to make the Philippines a better place. The other side of the coin depicts active citizens... quietly engaged in exciting efforts to the discourse on nation-building. These are men with vision, with courage, and with an indomitable will to succeed whatever be the obstacles in our country," she said.
Speaking on behalf of the honorees, Atty. Oscar Franklin Tan devoted a great part of his speech on a subject which he felt most at home with – law. "I enjoy talking about law," he began. "I enjoy inviting other people to talk about law. I try to empower people to form opinions on law. I hope that people see law not as extremely technical rules or the incantations of a secular religion, but that law immortalizes our society’s most cherished values." He shared his observation that the public "blindly and uncritically accept the interpretations of law of our Supreme Court and our lawyers in general;" and declared that, "our Supreme Court and lawyers in general are sometimes wrong and the good sense of our greater society is sometimes right. And even when the lawyers are correct, blind and uncritical acceptance of law does not add to our political maturity."
Marshaling the ardor of a law professor, he proceeded to elucidate the audience with his take on the "Equal Protection" clause of the Constitution, fearlessly touching on legal nuances of such controversial issues as the RH Law and the Bangsamoro Basic Law. He ended his half-an-hour treatise with a challenge to President Aquino in continuing to have "...the confidence to take his own independent stands on legal issues, and how these stands have always been faithful to the spirit rather than the letter of the law, to the common good instead of bizarre technicalities."
This year, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras led the recognition rites for the 2014 honorees of the TOYM, on behalf of President Benigno Aquino III, who had to beg off due to pressing matters. In his short message, the good Secretary praised the honorees for being "role models not only for the communities (they) have immediate contact with, but also and more importantly, for a nation of millions." He added that, "our countrymen see in your example the fruits of hard work, excellence, and compassion. You are the hope that inspires them to pursue their own dreams, and hopefully, in so doing, to touch the lives of others."
The 2014 TOYM honorees include: Vincent Franco Frasco for public service; Jessie Pascual Bitog for agricultural engineering; Maria Doris Dumlao for journalism; Marlyn Alonte-Naguiat for government and public service; John Mark Velasco for medical science and public health; and, of course, Oscar Franklin Tan for law.
Kudos to the 2014 TOYM Search Committee, led by National Chairman Marc Lester Manalo; the TOYM Screening Committee, headed by Cong. Doy Leachon; and the TOYM Board of Judges, chaired by Ms. Marixi Prieto of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Congratulations to you all! Together, let us "Change the Future through Excellence!"

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