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A National Photo Essay Competition on Calidad Humana


In the past school year, the Embassy of Chile, the University of Santo Tomas, and the University of Asia and the Pacific organized and concluded the first Calidad Humana national narrative essay writing competition. More than 150 entries were received from students, ages 15 to 30, all over the country. From the 150 entries, a preliminary panel of judges selected 30 entries, which went through final judging in order to select the three (3) essays whose subject persons of the corresponding narrative were deemed most representative of the Filipino strength of character, resiliency, and cheerfulness.

The wealth of good to excellent essays from the first competition has encouraged the organizers to hold a second competition, for school year 2012-2013, this time involving photos depicting the Filipino capacity to manage life’s challenges with elegance, cheerfulness, fortitude, and an unmistakable expression of these human qualities in one’s countenance and demeanor. The number of organizers has been expanded to include the Embassy of Brazil, University of the Philippines, the Ateneo University, the De La Salle University, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Coca-Cola Philippines, McDonald’s, and The Philippine Star.

The Thematic Concept

“Smiles for the World”, whose Spanish origin is, “Sonrisas para el Mundo”, is intended to showcase through the medium of photography and a short essay the delight of the Filipino smile as an expression of such human qualities as friendship, spirit of peace, steadfastness, open-mindedness, nobility of character, gutsiness, cheerfulness, optimism, sporting spirit, fortitude, magnanimity, resilience, endurance, and many others that portray a culture of excellence in the family, in school, at work, in the immediate community, and in society at large.

The Project then, would aim at three dimensions of “Calidad Humana”:

a)    Its preservation among Filipinos and elevation to the highest level of nobility; and

b)    Its transmission to the rest of the world, especially through the overseas Filipino workers;

c)    A study to identify the basic elements and nuances of the Filipino Human Compassion.

We quote from the literature of the previous competition, to highlight the underlying theme of the whole undertaking.

“CALIDAD HUMANA, literally translated as the quality of being human and loosely translated as strength of character, may refer to the sum total of distinctively human characteristics that dignify and ennoble a person and enable him to contribute to a culture of excellence either in his immediate, mediate, or broader environment … either in unusual or day-to-day situations and circumstances. It is not a state a person is in but a constant movement to attain the state of human perfection.

“Calidad humana marks the person noble in his dealings, steadfast in his convictions, and unfaltering in his equanimity, without any pretensions … everything that contributes in the end to LIFE WELL SPENT.

“One need not have most, or much less all, positive traits in heroic proportions, nor would one need to be exempt from defects of character. What is needed for calidad humana is a quality or a cluster of qualities that steadily stands out in one’s personal and social life, hand-in-hand with an unwavering struggle for the other human virtues.”


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