Mr. John Joseph Zarate, graduating BSEd Biology student at PSU Bayambang was honored the Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines (JRMSP) TOP 3 in the course of the 31st search for JRMSP awardees at Rizal Park Hotel last December 30, 2019. The award is given annually to vying leaders whose lives are epitome of Dr. Jose Rizal’s martyrdom.

Tracing the multiple attempts of PSU to send contenders to the JRMSP search throughout the years, the university barely make it to the cut comes Mr. Zarate for the year 2019 search. This frustrated him to send his entry but nevertheless pursued 3 days before the deadline.

The idea to send a PSUnian representative for the selection was pitched by Ma’am Amela Cayabyab, Student Services Coordinator at Bayambang Campus who also served a mentor to Zarate.

On a morning of December 16, Zarate woke up to reading a congratulatory message from the Knights of Rizal International Headquarters Supreme Council informing him that he qualified and made it to the TOP 12- pre-qualifying round thus giving him ticket to go further as in the final selection which will only honor 10 awardees. This brought Zarate to both states of elation and doubt after reality checking. Mr. Zarate competed with crème de la crème from the best universities in the country. Among his fellow aspirants hail from Ateneo de Manila, University of the Philippines-Los Baños, De La Salle Lipa, University of the East and the like-minded institutions.

His doubt caused him sudden contentment to already become part of the TOP 12 but he was pushed to continue by no less than the University President Dr. Dexter R. Buted whose son was lauded TOP 2 last 2018. Zarate was asked to report to Lingayen Campus for a courtesy call with Dr. Buted who rendered him the pieces of advice he needed the most. This strengthened Zarate’s will to surpass his own achievement and to be still in the competition up to the final selection. Zarate battled his fears and fought against his own agitation to become the best version of himself.

Authenticity is what sets him apart from the others

Born and raised in a less fortunate family, his father a tricycle driver, Zarate considers everyday a challenge. In order to finance his education, he works as an Online Teacher at an English Tutor Club called Acadsoc from 7pm to 12 am everyday so to keep up with his needs as a student.

This, however, does not hinder him from becoming an active leader in his campus and to every small society that he belongs, truly living by the virtues of Dr. Jose Rizal. In fact, he manages to be the President of multiple organizations such as Integrated Student Teaching Organization, Supreme Student Council- Bayambang Campus, Student Teachers Organization, Philippine Association of Pre-Service Teachers Inc., and Philippine Consortium for Science, Mathematics and Technology (PCSMT) formerly the Philippine Science Consortium. Not only that he leads these organizations but he is also the Vice President to yet another organization as the Kabataang Pangarap ni Rizal (KAPARIZ). His countless memberships to different organizations attest to how dedicated and passionate he is in bringing significant changes in the society.

During the search, Zarate ascertained the selecting committee of his authenticity by sharing in his essays and interview genuine facts about himself. He walks his talk such that he wanted the panel to see Rizal’s teachings manifested in his words and actions and not by solely familiarizing himself of the literary works and personal information of Rizal. His adoration to Rizal underlie values and principles and not of the surface level.

Likewise, Zarate and his fellow contenders were encouraged by Supreme Chancellor and the Chairman of JRMSP 2019, Mr Allan L. Rellon to be true to themselves.

Triumphantly, after the scrupulous process and scrutiny of the aspirants’ results to different levels of the competition, Mr. John Joseph Zarate was announced the TOP 3 Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines.

His message to his fellow youth, “Carve your name on hearts and not on tombstones. A legacy is etched into the mind of others and the story they share about you. As Dr. Jose Rizal stated in his novel El Filibusterismo during his quest for life’s meaning, “A life not consecrated to a great ideal is a useless one. Redemption presumes virtue; virtue presumes sacrifice; sacrifice presumes love.” Let us discover our God given purpose and let us seek out and learn from Jose Rizal’s life. Then let us strive to follow his example, in words and in deeds.”