Toral: Abusing ‘awards’-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
EARLY this week, I received an e-mail that I won an award – for being one of the global 100 most influential Filipinas. It required me to go to the US and attend a conference. Like other winners, I was to pay for my own trip. This is understandable, especially if the organization has limited resources.
As I agreed during the screening, I can go to the US and claim it. However, I found out winners who can’t make it will have their awards forfeited. Suddenly, the award did not seem real at all.
It reminded me of the very first award notification I got in the late 90s, when the ceremony was supposed to take place at a hotel in Quezon City. They asked for a minimal sponsorship fee for the event, which I agreed to give. Then when I shared this with friends, I was immediately warned that it was a scam. The advice to me was to ask whether the award would be forfeited if I couldn’t make it or if I attended the event but couldn’t contribute any amount. I asked organizers and my friends were right, they would forfeit the award.
It was embarrassing then as I already bragged about the award via email to friends. My boss then told me that it had a reputation for folks who can show up and pay. “Please don’t fall for it. You will get the award you deserve someday without spending a single peso and even if you don’t show up.” I learned my lesson since.
When my turn came in organizing awards such as the DigitalFilipino Web Awards and DigitalFilipino Social Networking Awards, I was very cautious and ensured that I will not ask for fees (from nomination to awarding). During the award ceremonies, we invited the winners to join without asking for a single centavo just to show that the award comes from the heart. They are there to be honored.
I only took a pause in giving out those two awards as I needed to develop better source of metrics – based on input or signal. That way, I won’t be dependent on nominations or judges’ biases. As sources of metrics and signals are improving again, I hope to resume with the awards soon.
I ultimately decided not to pursue in getting the award in the US. I also shared my reasons that I believe an award should be given even if the winner couldn’t make it.
Otherwise, it will not be authentic and truthful. The e-mail exchange turned ugly from there, which I shared at http://bit.ly/forfeitaward.
I find it very sad when awards are being used to take advantage of people and companies who yearn to have some form of recognition in their belt. This came to a point that some are even willing to pay for it to add the award to their company profile.
I guess in the end, our reality is shaped by our respective experiences. Some will not see anything wrong with the payment or forfeiture but people like me will think otherwise. (www.digitalfilipino.com)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 18, 2013.