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Ateneo gives prestigious award to Sumilao farmers

July 15, 2008 11:23pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Sumilao farmers were among this year’s awardees of the Ateneo De Manila University’s Special Academic Convocation.

In a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon at the Rev. Henry Lee Irwin Theatre in Ateneo De Manila University in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, representatives of the Sumilao farmers and their lawyer, Arlene Bag-ao, got the longest applause plus a standing ovation when awarded the Ozanam Award.

“All we wanted was to get the land of our ancestors back to us… We did not expect to be given an award like this,” Peter Tuminhay, a farmer-leader said after receiving the citation.

The Sumilao farmers marched October to December last year from Bukidnon to Manila in a dramatic and symbolic battle to gain back the 144-hectare land they claimed they own from corporate giant San Miguel Corporation. They finally won their case in March this year.

Bag-ao, an alumnus of Ateneo Law School, said that the support of the Ateneo community to the Sumilao farmers in the past decade has been overwhelming.

“I am overwhelmed by the recognition of my Alma Mater, who has taught me to love the path that has taken me to the side of the Sumilao farmers and other farmers like them. I am also overwhelmed to share this award with the Sumilao farmers who had been a part of most of my professional life as a lawyer,” she noted.

Ozanam Award was founded by the Ateneo de Manila in 1937 for the purpose of giving public honor to those persons who have given distinctive and continued service to their fellowmen in accordance with the “principles of Justice and of Charity.”

Ozanam Award is named after Frederick Ozanam, the great French leader, who founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society for the relief of the poor.

Meanwhile, the Ateneo likewise conferred academic awards to Fr. Antonio Pernia (Bukas Palad Award in Memory of Fr. Manuel Peypoch, S.J.); Eugenia Duran-Apostol (Parangal Lingkod Sambayanan); Gilda Cordero-Fernando (Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi); and Dr Fernando Hofileña (Lux-in-Domino).

Bag-ao, an alumnus of the Ateneo Law School, also said that her Ateneo education is one of the strongest influences in her career as a lawyer.

“What I have not learned in Ateneo, I learned in Sumilao and that makes my education more complete,” she also said.

Meanwhile, the Ateneo likewise conferred academic awards to Pernia (Bukas Palad Award in Memory of Fr. Manuel Peypoch, S.J.); Apostol (Parangal Lingkod Sambayanan); Fernando (Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi); and Hofileña (Lux-in-Domino). - GMANews.TV