Solis returns reward to Chilean Embassy
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Mark Joseph Solis, the UP student who admitted passing off photos he does not own to win photo contests, returned his reward on Thursday, September 26 and personally apologized to the Chilean Ambassador.
Accompanied by his mother, Amelita Solis, Mark Solis visited Chilean Ambassador to the Philippines Roberto Mayorga to personally extend his apologies.
Solis also returned the mobile phone awarded to him and vouchers for the round trip tickets to Brazil and Chile as well as the $1000 cash prize.
The embassy will no longer press charges against Solis. However, the Ambassador asked Solis to redeem himself by supporting the Calidad Humana project.
"I accepted the apology but I told him that he needs to redeem himself and the redemption period is a long process," Ambassador Mayorga said.
Long road to redemption
In the conversation that lasted at least an hour, Amb Mayorga asked Solis to participate in the activities of the Calidad Humana project which primarily aims to preserve and develop the positive elements that uniquely characterize Filipinos. Solis committed to collaborate with the Embassy and its partners in advancing the goals of the project.
Solis agreed to invite and organize 15-20 children from his barangay in Paranaque for the street football project of the Chilean Embassy. He is also committed to meet with the children at least once a week in a span of a year for the fulfillment of the said project.
The ambassador intends to visit Solis and bring media with him after a month to check if he has already jumpstarted his one-year commitment with the Calidad Humana project.
"If you get redemption of your behaviour and you start being a different person then you can be an example to many Filipinos who needs to be redeemed," Mayorga told Solis.
No letter of appeal
The Chilean Ambassador also clarified earlier reports claiming that Solis sent a letter of appeal to keep the reward.
The grand prize will be awarded instead to Medardo Marquez in a private ceremony that will be held at the Chilean embassy on October 3.
The other winners, Hannah Reyes and Arnold Jumpay, will also be invited to receive their respective prizes.
What about other prizes?
Solis recently bagged first place in a photo competition entitled "Smiles of the World" sponsored by the Chilean embassy in Manila. However, netizens exposed Solis for plagiarizing the prize-winning photo. They also revealed that Solis plagiarized the same photo and other photos several times since 2011.
Solis has apologized to the photo's real owner. He blamed his "youthful ignorance and recklessness" for his deplorable actions.
The UP grad student's woes may not be over yet. He faces a possible disciplinary case in the University of the Philippines for violating the student code of conduct. He is also the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) after it was found that he plagiarized another photo to win an OPAPP-sponsored contest.
"Let's move on"
In a statement posted on Facebook, Gregory John Smith, the real owner of the plagiarized photo, appealed to netizens to move on.
"Good people, let’s move on now, because justice has already been done. We don’t want a tragedy worse than what we already have," said Smith.
In his statement, Smith pointed out the many similar things Brazil and the Philippines share – including the evils that both the countries need to correct. Smith added that instead of being demoralized from this failure, Solis should try to learn his lessons and move on.
"That young man needs to move on too, change his attitudes and redirect himself on the right pathway to success, which we all know, is only possible through honest and hard labor, something Mark Solis will obviously have to learn along the way, because there is no other way," Smith said. - Rappler.com