Magsaysay awardees urge others to be instruments of change
Hailed as “modern-day heroes” on National Heroes Day, this year’s winners of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards on Monday called for greater collective action on the world’s most troubling issues, from cultural preservation and children’s rights to growing poverty and oppressive governance.
Each giving their response to the honor accorded them in the name of the well-admired late Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, Laos’ Kommaly Chanthavong, Myanmar’s Kyaw Thu, India’s Anshu Gupta and Sanjiv Chaturvedi and the Philippines’ Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa said the award provided them fresh inspiration for their efforts, as they encouraged others to become instruments of change.
Gupta, who founded an organization that revolutionized the idea of giving clothes to the poor in India, hoped his innovation would find its way to other parts of the world.
“I hope that when the celebrations around this year’s awards are over, there will be some people out there—from the governments, academia, development sector, research organizations, policy makers, opinion leaders and decision makers—who will see this work as a possibility which can turn the tide on the colossal waste we are all facing,” Gupta told his audience, which included President Aquino.
Myanmar actor Kyaw Thu appealed for genuine reforms in his country long wracked by civil strife.
“Public services in Myanmar have been deteriorating. We are trying our best to address issues where we can, and we are pleased with what we have done so far. However, in the long run, government should establish institutionalized policies, regulations and legal frameworks; and should implement these systematically,” Thu said in his remarks delivered through an interpreter.
Thu, who was recognized for founding an organization that provides free funeral services to Myanmar’s poor, called for the establishment of more civil society organizations in his homeland in order to consolidate a force that could influence government policy.
Cultural warrior Fernando-Amilbangsa appealed “for renewed efforts to develop a sensible program for dance education and conservation of indigenous dance forms, and to provide facilities conducive to the well-being of dancers.”
The dance scholar has spent her life preserving and promoting Sulu’s centuries-old dance the “Pangalay.”
She hoped both the public and private sectors could provide more than just “sympathies” to those who work to preserve the country’s intangible artifacts.
Chaturvedi, who received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership for his anticorruption efforts in India, said the recognition would serve as further inspiration to work even harder.
“This will certainly serve as a huge morale booster for all honest and sincere civil servants everywhere in Asia. I accept this award with happiness, but also with a huge sense of responsibility, and I promise to do my best to live up to the standards set by the luminary community of Magsaysay awardees,” said Chaturvedi.
In his speech, President Aquino likened the new Ramon Magsaysay laureates to those heroes the nation honored on Monday.
“None of our awardees embarked on these journeys out of a desire for fame and fortune; none of you chose to take on these responsibilities because you thought that they were simple or easy,” Aquino said.
He cited how the winners had rendered “real, backbreaking effort” to achieve “real transformation” in their communities.
“In many ways, you are like the heroes that many of my countrymen remember on this day: those who struggled and endured hardship for a greater cause. It is only right that we are paying tribute to you on this occasion. You are the modern-day heroes that not only Filipinos, but all men and women all over the world need,” said Aquino.