Bernardo M. Villegas
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Filipino Smiles for the World

           You still have till April 30, 2013 to win a prize of US $1,000 and a trip to two of the most picturesque countries in Latin America, Chile and Brazil where the World Youth Day, World Cup and the Olympics will be held in the next three years.  The photo contest is open to all Filipinos who want to share the Filipino compassionate lifestyle and attitude to life with the rest of the world.  Simply submit a photo of Filipino(s) smiling and a short accompanying message.

          A brain child of Ambassador Roberto Mayorga of Chile, in cooperation with the Embassy of Brazil and a host of business, educational  and media organizations, the project is part of what is called the "Calidad Humana" (Human Compassion, Humaneness, Human Tone) campaign initiated by Ambassador Mayorga in cooperation with like-minded individuals and enterprises with the view of contaminating the rest of the world with the proverbial cheerfulness and joy of living of the average Filipino.  Coming from a foreign observer of Filipino culture, this campaign is far from being self-serving and complements our own "It is more fun" in the Philippines tourism message.

          According to Ambassador Mayorga, the project has three goals:

          1.  To preserve the Calidad Humana among Filipinos.  The aim is to create awareness so as to avoid its loss, as has already happened in other countries.  In 2012, a narrative essay writing competition was launched, open to all the Philippines universities and high schools around the theme of Calidad Humana.  Four students obtained the top prizes.  The first prize, an essay by Jan Gabriel Melendrez Castaneda, of the University of Perpetual Help, Las Pinas, tells the story of  a very poor and old beggar who lost his wife and his three daughters and for thirty years has been writing poems in their memory.  The second went to Katrina Monica Chen Gaw of the Ateneo University who describes the life of poor Filipino children, their relationships and solidarity among one another.  Two essays tied for third place.  One by Camille K. Pascasio of UST which relates the sacrifices and spirit of service of doctors in the barrios; and the other by Alyssa Alexandra Yap Alfonso of PAREF Southcrest School in Cebu which explains the affection that can exist between the rich and the poor as told by an ordinary nanny.

          2. The second goal is to explain why Filipinos have this kind of personality.  This is the academic phase of the project.  With the help of the five cooperating universities (UP, Ateneo, DLSU, UST and UA&P), the elements that constitute the Filipino Calidad Humana will be identified.  The question to be posed:  in what way and for what reasons the typical Filipino possesses Calidad Humana, alternatively known as compassion, resiliency, humaneness, cheerfulness and joy of living.  A scientific explanation of this extraordinary feature will be needed in order to take appropriate action to cultivate, protect, nurture and preserve it.  As Ambassador Mayorga observes:  "In this respect, it is frequently said that Filipinos have Calidad Humana because they are Christians.  No doubt, this is an essential factor, but why are Christians in other latitudes different, apparently without the same intensity of Calidad Humana?  On the other hand, Filipinos who are not Christians also possess Calidad Humana."    He further qualifies:  "It is also said that Filipinos are always optimistic and humble, because a large percentage of them are poor and without education, and so they may not be aware of the possibilities to achieve a better life and so are happy the way they are.  Nevertheless, a high percentage of the rich and middle class in the Philippines also have Calidad Humana.  On the other hand, in other places, poor people are not as friendly and as hospitable as people are here."

          3.  The third goal is the one that involves the "Smiles for the World" campaign.  It has to do with sharing the Filipino Calidad Humana with other countries around the world.  This will be done by collecting photos of Filipino (s) smiling for the rest of the world to see.  This photo contest is open to Filipinos in the Philippines and in  the more than 200 countries where there are Filipino overseas workers.  The Department of Foreign Affairs has disseminated the contest through the Philippine embassies and consulates around the world.  Photo entries should be accompanied with a message with an explanation addressed to other countries of the world, inviting them to a more friendly, peaceful and compassionate world.  To the minds of the organizers, the Calidad Humana Project, while a cultural and human initiative, can perfectly complement the very successful campaign already launched by the Department of Tourism to call the attention of the world that "It is more fun in the Philippines."  To join the photo contest, visit   For comments, my email address is