Passing on the torch

FOR 51 years, the search for Davao City's Most Outstanding High School Graduate (MOHSG) has been the flagship program of JCI Davao, Inc. (formerly Davao Jaycees, Inc.).

With the objective “to inspire the youth to aim for more beneficial endeavors and encourage them to aspire for continuing excellence while instilling upon them that good deeds are often rewarded, MOHSG takes pride of its long list of alumni who continue to excel in their respective fields here and around the world,” shares this year’s MOHSG committee chairman Shandy Michael Sy.

Since its launch in 1965, Davao’s most prestigious schools have been sending their nominees to join the much-awaited search. It has become a familiar avenue for high school students and academe practitioners to showcase their abilities and talents.

In addition, it has helped the civic-oriented JCI Davao members to continuously hone their skills in leadership and project management.

New approach

This year’s awe-inspiring MOHSG finalists not only strove for curricular and extracurricular excellence, but also applied their knowledge, skills, and talents to create positive change in their respective communities which is considered the hallmark of active citizenship.

“It directly involved the candidates in nation-building activities and immersed them in real world scenarios to better appreciate what they could contribute that has sustainable impact, based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG),” Shandy detailed.

“Another first for the 51st MOHSG Search was the two-day Youth Formation and Leadership Development Camp that allowed the finalists to acquire valuable personal and character development ideas on how they can put into action the learnings that they have encountered. These activities to the new approach sealed the program's strategy and were the cornerstone to the three focus areas of the program known as MOHSG A.C.E. which stands for Academic Excellence, Community Involvement, and Exemplary Leadership,” Shandy continues.

Although the program incorporated these first-time activities, Shandy says that it was still a competition among the best high school graduates from different schools in the city.

The 2018 MOHSG competition had five search components, namely Portfolio Writing; Panel Interview and Project Proposal Presentation; Project Completion/Implementation Report; Self-Introduction; and Impromptu Speech.

Picking the best of the best

Emerging as the grand winner of this year’s MOHSG search was Jill Esther Velarde Parreño of Davao Christian High School. Her laudable Sidlak Stories project aimed to nurture a love of reading in children in two ways: by creating bilingual Cebuano/Tagalog children's storybooks and conducting storytelling and read-aloud workshops for parents of Barangay 12-B's daycare center. Aside from being the grand winner, Jill, a 2016 Palanca awardee, amazingly bagged the first place in four out of the five search components.

On the other hand, Eileene Lois Castro Rojo of Brokenshire College remarkably clinched the 1st runner-up spot with her Literacy and Values Formation project targeted to assist the distressed DUHA community in Ma-a cope with their current situation; restore the DUHA Day Care Center; instill values in children; and promote sustainable growth through learning.

Meanwhile, the MOHSG second runner-up was the brilliant debater Amira Alisha Gavasan Qamhawe of Ateneo de Davao Senior High School. Project Kahilupan was ardently devised as a response to the call for help of the Madrasa of the Sanggilangan Community in Ma-a after it was devastated by the flood days before 2017 ended. It mainly aimed to rehabilitate three classrooms of the school and hand over learning and teaching materials.

The artistic Germaine Monterola Escobal of Holy Cross of Davao College was declared as the third runner-up. “Likha Para Sa Bata” caringly intended to provide school uniforms for the students of Luman Elementary school of New Valencia, Tugbok, Davao City. It laboriously entailed fund raising activities which promoted the cultivation of the youth's talents and skills through arts and entrepreneurship.

And, finally, Megumi Faith Papaya Mallari, a cheerful student achiever of Philippine Nikkie Jin Kai International School, won as the fourth runner-up with her YES passion project primarily meant to teach the youth of Barangay Tigatto on how to properly act on the recurring floods in the area, and how to concretely help in mitigating this phenomenon.

Passing on the torch

Aside from receiving the title of the Most Outstanding High School Graduate of Davao City, trophy, and medal, another first this year was that one lucky winner, Germaine Escobal of Holy Cross of Davao College, was selected by LT Group, Inc. as the recipient of the P400,000 Educational Assistance Fund based on the finalist's portfolio and community project implementation report.

The other 2018 MOSHG finalists included the following: Cared Hillary Cañeda Abalo (Davao City National High School); Joseph Remirez Bahalla (Philippine Women's College Of Davao); Amanda Faye Matimatico Barbadillo (Colegio De San Ignacio); Dessa Lanchinebre Caballero (Our Lady Of Fatima Academy of Davao); Maverick Tyrone Barcela Cai (Davao Chong Hua High School); Kent Anthony Villasis Carido (Christian Colleges Of Southeast Asia); Mariah Shane Soria Ng (Immanuel School of Davao); Mark Joshua Caidlang Salmorin (Bernardo D. Carpio National High School); and Christian John Alivio Saludar (University of Immaculate Conception).

“As the newly adopted MOHSG symbol, the torch, signifies enlightenment and hope to the new generation, these MOHSG finalists were selected not only because of their academic achievements but also because of their leadership that they may be able to inspire others to aspire greater heights. As we pass on the torch for them to carry, we also pass on to them the responsibility to develop more great leaders that will promote positive change and sustainable impact to the community,” Shandy enthused.

Special thanks to Raymond Esperat and Luannee Lei Sy for the event’s photos.

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