Meeting the Ramon Magsaysay Awardees
What does it take to be a Ramon Magsaysay awardee like Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo of the Philippines and Ananda Galappatti of Sri Lanka? These awardees exemplify Greatness of Spirit, the brand of selfless service and leadership that the late President Ramon Magsaysay was known for.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award was established in 1957 to honor the memory of the late President and to keep alive his legacy of integrity in public service. The Award is given to those who address human development issues in Asia and have contributed to transform their societies for the better.
Last Saturday, June 1, I was with a small group of writers and online influencers invited by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation‘s social media team to meet the two awardees at the Asian Library of the Ramon Magsaysay Center. The awardees would share stories of their work with their respective communities and share what Greatness of Spirit means to them.
Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo
It was a great honor to meet Sr. Eva Maamo, 1997 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for Community Leadership. I was touched by her recollection of her early years as a doctor working with the minority communities of Lake Sebu in Mindanao. Through her small clinic that lacked even the most basic instruments, she took care of the health needs of the poor and trained the locals to be “barefoot doctors.” Today she works through the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, continuing to take care of the needs of poor communities.
Mr. Ananda Galappatti joined in the afternoon conversation via Skype. The 2008 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for Emergent Leadership was cited for his work in mental health and psychosocial fields especially during the time of the great tsunami of 2004. Born in London, Mr. Galappatti spent his early childhood in Sri Lanka, studied high school in Bangladesh then went back to the United Kingdom to study Psychology. Returning to Sri Lanka, he worked to provide better psychosocial services to people affected by civil war and natural calamities.
Translating Greatness of Spirit into Action
I see from the lives of both Sr. Eva and Mr. Galappatti that Greatness of Spirit means selfless dedication to public service. Sr. Eva said that one must help people believe in themselves, have the humility to learn from others and work with others. Mr Galappatti believes that doing good is not the work of special individuals. All of us have a responsibility to our fellowmen. We must open our hearts and make a connection with others.
The decisions and choices that we make affect not only our own lives but others as well. Let us be inspired by the Goodness of Spirit of the Ramon Magsaysay awardees, be a positive influence to those around us, and help improve lives.
Learn more about the inspiring lives of Ramon Magsaysay Foundation awardees at the RMAF website and Facebook page.