Bernardo M. Villegas
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Human Tone

           In the twenty first century, there will be more and more countries that will attain per capita incomes of $10,000 or above, thus joining the ranks of developed economies.  The ones most likely to graduate to this higher stage of material development are the ones that are referred to as "emerging markets", led by Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) and followed by the so-called next eleven (N-11), which include Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines (VIP).  Can these emerging markets avoid the fate of most developed countries today that have lost a great deal of the human tone or human quality of their population as they became materially richer but spiritually poorer? 

          During the celebration of 201 years of independence of Chile, Ambassador Roberto Mayorga delivered a speech at the University of Asia and the Pacific in which he announced a national essay writing contest  that will try to answer the question "What may the Philippines do to preserve the human richness, the 'calidad humana' of its people?"  He made an observation that we hear from many foreign visitors:   that Filipinos have a "sense of humanity", a sense of empathy and compassion that are not easy to find in other societies.  He observed that "people in the Philippines (Pinoys) always find the time and patience to listen to their friends....They possess a strong commitment to their families...Filipinos are mainly humble, receptive, tolerant and embedded with numerous spiritual values.... They are people who always sing, dance and smile, filled with faith, hope and fraternity.  Music, colors, and poetry.  It is not by chance that Jose Rizal was born in the Philippines." 

          As a way of identifying these human and spiritual virtues that constitute the Filipino way of life today, the Chilean Embassy is sponsoring a national essay contest open to any Filipino student not older than 30.  The essay should be about an individual, group or community that stands out for the qualities of authentic, sterling Filipinos.  The human tone or "calidad humana" may be broken down into four operational hallmark areas, all of which are deemed to typify a person of strong character:  personal integrity (that signals an authentic love of self); family solidarity (that signals an authentic love of family); civic responsibility (that signals an authentic love for one's community); and universal charity (that signals an authentic love for the rest of the country).

          Competition entries should be in the form of a narrative essay or account of Filipino boys, girls, men, women, families, and groups who have consistently displayed the human tone or "calidad humana" in their day-to-day or extraordinary life.  The entries shall showcase human qualities that sum up to heroic levels of character and disposition.  The setting of the narrative could be the family, the school, the community, the nation or even the world.  The thread of the essay shall attempt to convince the reader of the constant strength of character of the individual, family, or group.

          Entries are individual.  Each entry should contain a separate cover page indicating the name, school, year level, school address and contact numbers, name of principal(or dean), birthday of entrant, email address, mailing address, contact numbers (mobile and land line), and certification of originality of work.  Excluding the Notation Page, entries shall be limited to 10 pages, double-spaced, 11 font. Arial.  Entries shall be submitted in soft copy (Word file.doc) via   Entries shall be the property of the Embassy of Chile, which reserves the right to edit the works and publish them as deemed appropriate.  To determine further the prospective winners' views on the competition theme (i.e., the congruence between the person and his work), the organizers shall conduct individual interviews with them, either face-to-face or through Skype or social networking. 

          The criteria for determining qualifying and winning entries are as follows:

          40% Content or story thread in showcasing human tone or calidad humana, including the message transmitted by the author to the reader;

          40% Use of tools of language, usage, organization, coherence, sufficiency of details, grammar and mechanics;

          20%  Impact of the work (content, expression, and sentiment elicited) on the readers.

          There shall be three winners, each of whom shall receive the following:

          Roundtrip ticket for two to Cebu City or Boracay

          US$ 1,000 pocket money cash reward for first prize

          US$  600 pocket money cash reward for second prize

          US$ 400 pocket money cash reward for third prize

          Awarding ceremonies shall take place in the school of one of the winners.  Deadline of submission of entries is January 15, 2012.  The Christmas vacation could be a perfect time to write the essay.    For comments, my email address is