UP Stude Plagiarized Winning Photo, No Zambo Boy

(Photo Credit: icimod.org)
(Photo Credit:  icimod.org)
(Photo Credit: icimod.org)

Mark Joseph Solis, a University of the Philippines student,  joined a photo contest – Smiles for the World – and won it. He was rewarded with  US $1,000.00 and a round trip ticket to Brazil and Chile for his winning entry that got the top prize.

The said contest was sponsored by the Chile embassy and Ambassador Roberto Mayorga in celebration of their country’s 203rd Year of Independence.   Solis’ winning entry was picked as the best from 500 other entries, which was later reduced to 30 in pre-qualification.

The photo, shown in an article published on a national broadsheet (which was later taken down) is of a smiling boy supposedly gathering seaweed in Zamboanga City.

Solis almost got away with the prize and the recognition until a Mr. Gregory John Smith claimed on a Facebook post that the winning photo was his. Smith, founder of Children At Risk Foundation was clearly surprised upon seeing his picture, wrote :

“WOW! There is really no limit to people’s abuse of others in this world. This is one of my photographs that just won first prize in a contest that I never entered”

He also corrected that the boy in the photo in question was a Brazilian and not a Filipino, much less a Zamboangueno. According to the link of a Flickr account of CARF showing  the same photo taken in 2006, the boy was actually Elias from Morro de Macaco, a town in Brazil.

Solis, after drawing flak from disappointed netizens on social media  over his action, had issued a public apology via a letter published in another social news network.

The letter addressed to Mr. Gregory Smith read;

‘I am writing to you to express my deep remorse and sincerest apologies for claiming your photo as mine. As the rightful owner of the photo, you deserve my initial thoughts and statement about this.’

As to why he had to commit this shameful act, he wrote:

‘Unfortunately I was driven by my youth, lack of experience and the inability to see the repercussions of my actions. The sheer amount of the prize, the stiff competition and the unique ability to be abroad blinded me from undertaking what is supposed to be an honest and rightful conduct.’

 He expressed regrets and willingness to return everything he got from the contest including the prize. He said also that he is now in contact with the organizers to convey apologies and seek opinion.

It was also revealed that he entered the same photo in another contest – Water and Life:2013 ICIMOD Digital Photo Contest, but not as boy from Zamboanga, but this time supposedly from Ramanathapuram, India.

The 22-year old Political Science graduate of UP is presently enrolled at UP NCPAG for his Master’s Degree in Public Administration. He is an exchange scholar at Japan and is a member of UP Debate Society.

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  1. Your good side was defeated by your bad side in a debate in your conscience, I hope this does not happen very often. This only shows that education is not a guarantee of good character, besides, the most damaging things that happened in this country (Philippines) was perpetrated by educated, supposed to be honorable people. Just look at the news…………. tsk,tsk,tsk,tsk…………….

  2. ouch, sana man lang nakonsensya sya nung nanalo sya until may nag claim eh di di na nya sana nalaman ang totoo. and the fact that he is a political scie student alam nya yang ginwa nyang mali dapat ….

  3. If UP is serious about education-particularly training would-be politicians and lawyers, he should be expelled immediately. In addition, his record as a graduate of UP Pol Sci should be appropriately annotated.

  4. May magtiwala pa ba sa iyo kapag naging abogado ka na?… Hwag mo n ring tangkaing pumasok sa pulitika dahil kahit na pinagsisihan mo na ang ginawa mong panloloko nakakabit na ang mantsa sa pangalang dinadala mo…Sayang UPians ka pa nman!

  5. tsk tsk… kahiya hiya ‘to, ang kapal ng mukha… kahit kelan di ko kayang gawin ‘to.. habang buhay mong dadalin ang kahihiyang yan.. dinagdagan mo ang lumot sa mukha ng mga pinoy.

  6. Right with what Shuka said “Education is not a guarantee of a good character”.
    Even a person comes from UP but has bad character, he or she will still
    do lousy things, will rot and stink. My neighbors’ daughters are from
    UP and yet I see them smoke, bring along noisy friends at home and sleep
    with their boyfriends when their parents are out working. When they are
    with their parents they act like holy sheep. I’m not speaking in
    general terms. My point is, you cannot use intelligence to be the basis
    of admiring a person but rather it is his or her “breeding” and
    “character” where you can judge the person fully. Kahit galing ka pa sa
    UP kung bulok naman pagkatao mo dahil sa pinapakita mo, mababa pa rin
    tingin ng tao sayo.

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