The 1976 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service
Response of Elsie Elliott Tu
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1976, Manila, Philippines
May I first convey my sympathy, and, I am sure, the sympathy of our Hong Kong people, to your country, and especially to the disaster victims, after the tragic losses they suffered in the recent earthquakes in the Philippines. I applaud the words of your President, Mr. Marcos, that the people will practice self-reliance to rebuild what can be rebuilt of what has been destroyed. Self-reliance is the hallmark of a strong character and of an independent nation, and I am happy that your country has the pride and determination of self-reliance. This matter is my major concern on this visit to the Philippines.
And now may I express my thanks to those who selected me for this treasured award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award. The honor is the greater because this is an Asian award and I am a European. The happiest years of my life have been spent among Asian people, and I have come to respect them for their culture and spiritual values; from them I have learned much. I regret the harm that has been done to Asian countries by European nations in the past, and I trust that understanding and closer association will result in greater harmony of East and West.
An Award like this makes one stop to evaluate oneself; it makes one feel humble that others should place such value on one's work, and this spurs one on to greater efforts to merit the honor bestowed.
Your late President Ramon Magsaysay, whose birthday I am pleased to celebrate with you today, set an example of service to the people that we would all do well to emulate. It is to me the greatest honor that my name should be in this way associated with so fine a person as the late President.
It is cited in the Award that it is given to me in recognition of my "crusade for justice, making the Hong Kong Government. . .more responsive to the less affluent." In this crusade I have not worked alone, but have been assisted or encouraged by people of many nationalities. To those who have shared in my work I now pay tribute; they must all share in this recognition today.
I also wish to pay tribute to my own father, who died 30 years ago. He taught me from childhood the equality of all men and how to serve the community, especially the less affluent. I only wish he could be present today to share this honor with me.
People often ask me why I do this work which appears to them so frustrating I have no real answer to that question except to say that I can think of no happier pathway in life than to lift the burden of my fellowmen. For my part, I find it difficult to understand the person who spends his life fettered with the chains of money, property, business and other perishable goods. Such people are never really happy or satisfied no matter how many their possessions, because they are always anxious and afraid. I could not enjoy such a life. Man was born with a soul that cannot be satisfied with perishable goods which only clutter his life. Man was made for man, and he can never satisfy his inmost needs until he is at peace with man, sharing the joys and sorrows of others of his kind.
In my life I have received many rewards. For example, the reward of
being able to change a government policy to improve conditions for the people, and the
simple reward of a smiling face or a word of thanks from people assisted in their
problems. And now, to add to those joys, I am receiving this public and much-prized Award,
which will encourage me to further and greater efforts for the people of Hong Kong of any
other community of which I may be a member.
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