The story of Mark Joseph Solis has captured the media for the past few days. Suffice it to say that many were embarassed with this shocking news. For multiple times, he used others’ photos, claiming them as his own, only for the purpose of joining contests and getting the chance to travel abroad. Besides being infuriated with Solis’ misconduct, I also felt empathy for Gregory John Smith, the owner of one of the photos. Coming from someone who values photography and takes it seriously like he does, I know how enraging it is to see another person steal the work you’ve worked very hard for.
But what caught my attention, more importantly, was him being a fellow Iskolar ng Bayan. Indeed, it is a disappointment to have stolen someone’s property, but to have the one responsible for the crime come from the national university? It does not only put him into shame, it also puts his and our alma mater in disgrace.
However, this is not new to UP. Plagiarism has been present in the university for years. I remember my English 10 professor discussing different people who had plagiarized – from her own students, to the Supreme Court judge, and to even Manny V. Pangilinan. Hearing those big names involved in such a humiliating act was saddening.
Although we cannot undo what Solis and other people who committed plagiarism did, we can make their experiences a valuable lesson. They were, I suppose, swayed by their own goals that they went as far as stealing someone else’s work. Thus, we should not let our selfish desires get the best of us. What we can do is shape them and use them as inspirations that will drive us into working harder and more reputable. After all, nothing feels better than getting the success you know you highly deserve.