UPLB Biology student is among the recent Ten Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Students of the Philippines

by Rochelle B. Sarmiento (Polylinker)

UPLB Biology student and GeneSoc member Paul Jhon P. Diezon was named as one of the Ten Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Students of the Philippines (JRMSP) during a ceremony at the Knights of Rizal International Headquarters, Manila on December 30, 2016. The said event coincided with the commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the martyrdom of national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

Diezon was chosen from a pool of nominees of various universities and colleges throughout the country for exemplifying the national hero’s achievements, leadership, and nationalism through academic excellence, extracurricular activities, and community involvement.

The search for the JRMSP is organized by the Order of the Knights of Rizal (OKOR), a civic and patriotic organization and the sole order of knighthood in the Philippines which was created to honor and uphold the ideals of Dr. Rizal. Chartered under Republic Act 646, OKOR is mandated to promote the teachings and values of Dr. Rizal especially among the Filipino youth.
FIGHTING FOR THE MASSES. PJ Diezon said that it is by immersing ourselves with the masses
that we can truly stand with the oppressed and the underserved in asserting their rights.

Last November, Diezon was also recognized as the 2016 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Student during the 44th CAS Foundation Anniversary Convocation and Awarding Ceremonies in UPLB. A student-leader of magna cum laude standing, he has been serving the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council for two consecutive terms— formerly as a Councilor and, this academic year, as a Vice Chairperson. Diezon had also been the editor-in-chief of GENEWS, the official publication of The UPLB Genetics Society, a year after he became part of the organization.

With his current achievement, Diezon has joined the rank of a UPLB summa cum laude and GeneSoc alumnus Michael B. Gamalinda (Batch Polygenes) who was distinguished as one of the Ten Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Students of the Philippines in 2006.

The Office of Student Affairs assisted in the selection process of Diezon as the sole nominee of UPLB for the search of 10 outstanding JRMSP this year. 

Behind is ‘a man of his people’
For Diezon, even though most Filipinos seem to celebrate Rizal’s death more than his life, it was Rizal’s life journey that made all the difference and rekindled the heart of the Filipinos during, and even after, his time.

Diezon shared that Rizal being “a visionary and a man of excellence” has motivated him to be more inspired to live his dreams. “Following his life from Calamba to Ateneo and to the many corners of the world, Rizal has shown marks of brilliance. And looking back in his life in Dapitan, we can see that even in exile, he has contributed to Dapitan’s progress.”

“Rizal is a man of principle. He is a man of his people,” said Diezon while also pointing out that we can find the Rizal in each one of us.

Beyond the fame
Diezon stated that getting the award has an impact that goes beyond fame and that the recognition he received is “more of a bonus.

“This award brings the Iskolar ng Bayan brand throughout the rest of the archipelago with the purpose of voicing out our stand on issues and plights faced by our fellow Filipinos,” Diezon believed.

He further noted that the distinction itself should not be the viewed merely as a purpose at its end for the recognition heeds a greater call to serve our countrymen.

He added, “After all, the problems we encounter as UP students are not different from those which are faced by the members of the communities outside the bounds of our campus— be it the farmers, the fisherfolks, the peasants, and the LGBTQI.”

For the masses, with the masses
“I offer this award to all UP students, hoping to inspire them to be one with the masses in asserting our rights now that our country is in dire need of leaders who shall defend the rights of every Filipino,” Diezon said. 

He also hopes that the award he received will put an end to the stereotyping of activists. An advocate for free and accessible education who has been active in arranging and leading campaigns to champion students’ rights, he emphasized that activists must not be adjudicated as being delinquent in their studies, neglectful of their academic life, and whose acts are not worthy of emulation.

“I must say that my experience of living in the communities and going to the streets, organizing protests and mobilizing students to fight for their rights has transformed me to become more passionate and driven. Those experiences with the masses made me believe that our 1.0’s or 1.25’s won’t feed the hungry; they won’t give the farmers their land nor give justice to those workers who are experiencing contractualization,” said Diezon.

(Editor’s Note: Some quotations have been translated to English. With contributions from Mr. Jickerson P. Lado.)

Rochelle B. Sarmiento is a senior Genetics major who intends to pursue a career in medicine after graduation. Her interests include reading classic literature and engaging in volunteer woks.
You may e-mail her at rochellebsarmiento@yahoo.com.