By RODOLFO SB. VIRTUS JR.
For the second consecutive year, a student from the Ateneo de Naga University ranked first in the Search for the Jose Rizal Model Students of the Philippines (JRMSP) 2010. Monica M. Palomares, AB Development Communications senior student, bested 16 other national winners and finalists in the Search.
Palomares is the sixth JRMSP winner ADNU has produced in history. In 2009, Chanelle Allorde, Valedictorian of Class 2010, also topped in the same Search.
Palomares first had to contend with the University’s other top student leaders in a school level paper screening and panel interview conducted by a screening committee convened by the Office of Student Affairs to become the school nominee. From the hundreds of school nominees across the country, the Order of the Knights of Rizal named her as one of the 17 national finalists. She then faced prominent national figures from the Order in a make-or-break final interview last December 29 last year. She was finally declared as one of the ten awardees on Rizal Day – December 30 at the OKOR International Headquarters, Knights of Rizal Building in Manila.
For the Order, Palomares’ academic performance and leadership, the Search’s criteria, were most outstanding, thereby epitomizing Rizalian qualities and the virtue of love of country, and serving as living model to her fellow youth.
The panel said it was a close fight between two Ateneans for the top award. The other Atenean from Manila was declared second. Fellow Bicolano student from the Universidad de Sta. Isabel also earned for herself a slot in the Top 10.
Aside from being an academic scholar and a consistent Dean or President’s Lister, Palomares holds responsible positions in some of the University’s most important student organizations such as Supreme Student Government as Internal Vice President. Before her election, she had served the Remontados Debate Society as Vice President for Administration (2008), Vice President for Training and Membership (2008 to 2010) and President (March to June 2010).
As a debater of Remontados, she helped the organization participate or win in some regional and national debate tournaments like the 9th and 10th and 12th National Debate Championships, the 3rd and 4th Philippine Inter-Collegiate debating Championship, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Raul Roco Cups, and the Buenaventura Cups in 2008, 2009 and 2010, among others. As an officer, helped conceptualize and implement the Debate Education Program through which the organization reaches out to various off-campus institutions interested in debate and facilitate workshops and help them establish their own debate societies.
In Summer 2008, Palomares was appointed by the Naga City Government as one of the youth councilors, the youth counterpart of the elected city councilors. She helped organize activities for the youth sector like the clean-up drives along the Bicol river, livelihood seminar for some youth groups and assemblies of youth organizations.
She was chosen delegate in a number of youth conferences like the 8th National Youth Parliament in November 2010, where she was chairperson of the Committee on Values; and the 11th International Youth Day in August 2010, where she discussed with other youths critical issues on environment governance, culture and their relevance to human rights.