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Dutch Tulip Award in Phl beyond lip service; recognizes human rights champions

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By Marinel Peroy

Not many of us know what the lovely flower tulip represents, and I must admit even myself, the things that I appreciate in the flower are based on its extrinsic values such as the colors, the silky-like petals, and the subtle and enigmatic gradient that add charm to the flower. But when I attended the 2023 Embassy Human Rights Tulip Awarding Ceremony and Reception hosted by Her Excellency Marielle Geraedts, Philippine Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at her residence, a sudden deeper admiration for tulips was developed as the mystery was unveiled in the unassuming flower.

I found out that the significance of the tulip as a symbol of benevolence is deeply rooted in history, particularly during the Victorian era. Transcending aesthetics, this exquisite flower has long been associated with the spirit of giving and contributing to the welfare of others by being a beacon of compassion, charity, and the greater good in the timeless bound. While others tout the flower as an embodiment of perfect and deep love. Regardless of how others see the tulip flower, the very essence of it is compelling given the fact that it represents unconditional and inclusive love, beyond the romantic love that others would like to celebrate.

Tulip symbol of “Battle for Justice and Equality” in the Netherlands

In 2008, the Dutch Government – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took a pioneering step towards recognizing and honoring individuals and organizations championing human rights. This initiative paved the way to the prestigious creation of “Human Rights Tulip Award,” a symbol of acknowledgment for those on the frontline of the battle for justice and equality.

Serving its annual celebration embedded with courage and dedication, the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands is honored to unveil the 2023 Human Rights Tulip Award at the Ambassador’s Residence in Makati City. 

Her Excellency Marielle Geraedts, Dutch Ambassador to the Philippines

“The Netherlands supports human rights defenders worldwide. They are our modern-day heroes,” said H.E. Marielle Geraedts, Dutch Ambassador to the Philippines during the award and reception night held on December 11.

This year’s Human Rights Tulip Award served as a guiding light that night for the peace-loving and justice and equality advocates as it bestowed upon the winning organization that has not only fought for human rights but forged the right to one’s identity. 

While noting that there is still substantial work to be done in advancing social, economic, civil, and political rights in the Philippines, the Netherlands, and globally, the Dutch Ambassador highlighted that the night puts a spotlight to commemorate the efforts done by these human rights defenders.

“The Netherlands chooses to celebrate International Human Rights Day here, by recognizing the contribution of excellent very human life organization employees, particularly one that has been working in communities and has scaled up the work to make national international partners maximize the impact of their advocacy work,” Ambassador Geraedts added.

The assessment of this year’s winner was conducted by the following: 

  • Level of repression
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Viability and scalability 

Among the nominated civil society organizations, the embassy announced that IDEALS, Inc. (Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services) is the organization that garnered the Tulip Award 2023, respectively. 

Recognizing their relentless efforts in advancing and safeguarding the principles of human rights, IDEALS is commended for their valuable work towards promoting peace and access to justice in the Philippines. As a legal-focused NGO, they are dedicated to ensuring that communities have access to impactful legal aid to assert their rights. 

“The embassy was one of the first who believed in our goal to promote peace through media — in giving the community the platform to seek accountability, claim their own rights, and amplify their narratives — hoping to plant these more tulips in areas where conflict and insecurity amount,” as stated by Executive Director Edgardo Ligon. 

With the Netherlands’ The Human Rights Tulip Award along with IDEALS vision, this serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of those who tirelessly strive for a world where every individual’s rights are acknowledged and respected. The award not only serves as a token of recognition but also as a powerful tool for empowering those who dedicate their lives to the noble quest for justice and human rights.

These delicate petals of tulip signify a profound narrative of compassion and altruism; along with whichever color it symbolizes — be it pink for confidence, blue for tranquility, or yellow for hope. 

A new hue was somehow discovered, as the rainbow shade of tulip seemed to be blooming when the LGBTQIA+ song “Tao Rin Ako” was featured to the lovely guests, honoring the gender rights of everyone. This continuous collaborative movement also shows the Dutch government’s unwavering commitment to fostering a global culture of respect and dignity.

And like orange tulips, may we continue to bloom with the advocacy towards a sense of understanding — reminding us all that the pursuit of justice is a collective responsibility worth honoring — not only through this award cherishing Phl-Dutch mutual ties through human rights, but also to be an epitome of red tulips showcasing everlasting love across the world.

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