He paved the way for nation-building when he did all that he can for his countrymen – from publishing books and poems to awaken their consciousness to the occurrences during the Spanish Era to physically serving those who were fortunate enough to have met him during his short life. He died by firing squad, not for naught. He is Jose Rizal, the inspiration behind the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP), a search founded by businessman Jose Concepcion, Jr., while he was still publishing Student Life Magazine.
Mr. Concepcion, in his desire to honor students who are exemplars and leaders in their own academic fields and in their contributions to society, established TOSP on June 19, 1961, the 100th birthday of Dr. Jose Rizal, the embodiment of a model student who not only achieves academic citations, but also gives of himself to those in need. The Search was held annually until Martial Law was declared in 1972.
That was not the end of the road for TOSP though, for 1989 saw the re-launch of the Search with what has now been referred to as the revival batch. From then on, it has continued to celebrate, affirm, and champion the noble and enduring spirit of the Filipino youth who serves as a role model of academic excellence, exemplary leadership, good moral values, and socio-civic consciousness.
Mr. Concepcion’s vision of recognizing young role models became a continuing project of the RFM Foundation, Inc., the Commission on Higher Education, and the RFM Corporation, in cooperation with National Bookstore, the Rotary Club of Makati Central, and the TOSP Alumni Community. Recently, the PLDT also joined the growing list of TOSP partners – people who believe in the capacity and potential of the Search and its finalists and awardees to galvanize the youth into action.
Indeed, from its roots in 1961 to the present year, the Search has become a laboratory of leaders, producing outstanding contributors in the fields of governance, business, the academe, church and civil society. Among them are Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Bishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, Edna del Val Zapanta-Manlapaz, Atty. Rene Saguisag, Raul Roco, Sonia Malasarte-Roco, Vicky Pineda-Garchitorena, Atty. Dong Puno, Soledad Aquino-Hernando, Sec. Ramon del Rosario, Paco Sandejas, and Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ. They have made a difference in their respective fields of influence.
Nonetheless, the alumni of the younger batches are also slowly but surely carving their niches in the circles where they move – contributing time and energy to creative positive ripples that may someday turn into great waves of positive change and enlightenment.
Indeed, there are many more regional and national finalists and awardees all over the globe who have done much for their fellowmen. From contributing to breakthrough researches in various fields and conducting capacity-building workshops involving different nations to helping students learn their lessons and deal with life’s challenges, the TOSP alumni have done it all for the purpose of living and spreading the TOSP Credo – learning, leading, and serving for life.
TOSP will once again be celebrated, affirmed and inspired this year and the years to come by shining examples of today’s youth as they continue to seek and galvanize their peers for nation-building.