Here are the winners of the TIME Most Important Person of the Century Essay Contest. Top-prize winners for each age category (10-12, 13-15, 16-18) won an Apple iMac computer for themselves and also one for their school. Second- and third-prize winners in each age category will receive an Apple iMac for themselves.
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to more than 7,000 students from across Asia who participated!
Age category: 10-12 | 13-15 | 16-18
See TIME's list of the 20 most influential Asians!
1st Place - Ages 10-12
Jo Christinne B. Rambaud (age 12)
Child Jesus College
Nanang My Great Grandmother
I can see her now in her favorite corner of her bamboo and wooden house with her thermos bottle, and ungot--a polished coconut shell, which she uses for drinking water.
She inherited no parcels of land. It was her parents' belief then that women should be provided for by their husbands. Instead they gave her an ungot.
I call her Nanang. A widow at ninety-three, her eyesight is still excellent. She can still thread the needle and darn old clothes for her grand children and great-grand children who live with her in her house in Bauang, La Union where we visit her every summer.
Nanang has a loud voice. One late afternoon, we heard her calling for us while we were atop the siniguelas tree picking some ripe fruits. We were told to herd the goats home from the pasture but there we were atop the tree!
Nanang is uneducated. But she valued education and instilled them to her children especially her daughters. She did not want her daughters to have only an ungot for them to remember her. And so my grandmother, my mother's mother, is now a doctoral degree holder and founder of her own school.
Yes, that's my Nanang, my great grandmother. To others, she may look ordinary. But to me, I consider her as the most important person of the century. "My little one, study hard," she would say whenever we see each other.
And that's what I am doing right now.
2nd Place - Ages 10-12
Allen Faith Aquino (age 11)
Cembo Elem School
The Most Important Person of the Century
Give thanks to Hitler! Give thanks to the Nazis! No other man has generated such worldwide interest, spanning generations of people as Adolf Hitler. He who had shown what spirit, idealism and courage actually mean. But how do I thank, thee? Let me count the ways.
From his racial discrimination stemmed our awareness and determination to uphold human rights and equality regardless of race, color or creed. From his greediness to conquer neighboring countries an alliance of forces was established thus, we learned that unity withstands evil intentions. He generated chaos, we realized living in peace and harmony with the others is better. From his display of true dictatorship, we valued democracy and freedom.
It is from the evil he had sown where we Iearned and regard the good within us. Hence, I dare say, "Give thanks to Hitler!"
3rd Place - Ages 10-12
Ayaka Sato (age 11)
Higashiyama Elementary School
The Most Important Person I Think in This Century
The person I most respect in the 20th century is Anne Frank. I respect her because the diary she left gave us a chance to think about what peace is, and what equality is.
About five years ago, I visited Anne Frank's house in Holland with my family. It was just a normal attic which nobody would even imagine to go to if not for Anne's diary. As soon as I stepped into the attic, which was camouflaged by a bookcase on the top of a steep staircase, I felt very sad. Of course there was a toilet and kitchen, and everything else that was needed, but there was a certain time that Anne and the others were able to use them. They must have suffered more than I imagine to live without being known.
The diary, which was nearly her only support of her attic days, were (sic) kept with care by her father and his friends later on, and got into a book. She must never have imagined that it would be read by so many people later on.
The war inside Yugoslavia have (sic) just ended a while ago. I think that we must remember Anne, and her diary, and think again about the value of peace.
1st Place - Ages 13-15
Anna Tai Xin Qian (age 15)
Raffles Girls School (Secondary)
Person of the Century
For most of the recorded past, fate lay in the hands of a select few--emperors, kings, generals and other elite. History was about Napoleons and Hitlers, about Newtons and Mao Zedongs, but strangely, no one ever spoke about the most important character in Mankind's epic story--the ordinary man or woman.
He was the UN soldier who helped bring about peace in Kososvo (sic). She was one of the millions of the mothers who single handedly raised children in the slums other (sic) developing world, whilst living below the poverty line. She was the social worker who spent years in Kenya helping to create awareness for AIDs (sic) and family planning. He was one of the nameless drug pushers who annually cart billions of dollars worth of heroin and cocaine across trans-national boundaries and into to (sic) waiting hands.
Ours is the century of the common man. It is he who drove world economies, paid the taxes, had entire governments voted in and voted out, fought for democracy, criticised politicians, grew the food to feed the population, and bought the tabloids that shamed US President Bill Clinton. And when economies falter, when banks crash and when epidemics break out, it is the faceless man in the street who suffers the most.
He is the ordinary Joe or Muhammed, or Ah Ming. He is African, he is German, he is Korean, he is Pakistani. He is me, he is you. And he is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
2nd Place - Ages 13-15
Sara Samantha Tan (age 15)
Singapore Chinese Girls' School
The Most Important Person of the Century
Kermit the frog may seem an unlikely hero, considered by all, except toddlers, to be terribly unimportant in today's hectic society. However, I feel it is time this frog was taken seriously.
I feel that his character embodies international peacekeeping ideals that can be summarised in an often heard but lightly taken phrase, "fun, laughter, peace and joy." This, he brings in abundance to households across the world. My favourite television character in childhood was Kermit. Children relate easily to his simple thoughts and he effectively instills virtues such as patience, humility and a sense of humour, as children, who learn overwhelmingly by example, watch him on their screens. Today's youth will be tomorrow's adults, and virtues such as these are far too sadly lacking in governments today.
Kermit once said, "It isn't easy being green," speaking eloquently of difficulties people face because of colour, religion, or disability, but nonetheless have to overcome. This also applies to racial and religious prejudice, reminding people that it is not easy to be born different, and that everybody can use a little help once in a while.
Kermit's song, "The Rainbow Connection" has reached millions of people with a message of hope. The lyrics are poignant, especially when all the broken dreams of today and for years to come are taken into consideration. I think he has achieved a lot for a little green frog. Besides, green was never so "hip" and the conservation of nature never quite so important as today.
3rd Place - Ages 13-15
Voon Yi Long Frederick (age 14)
The Most Important Person of the 20th Century
As children, we had dreams. We dreamt of a paradise far, far away, where everything was bright and fun and fantastic.
One man was behind our dreams.
As children, we loved cartoons. Our idols were lively characters who brought laughter into our lives.
One man enlivened our imaginations. This man was a pioneer in the world of animation. He created the first sound cartoon, the first cartoon film, but most importantly he created the first cartoon icon--a mouse with buttoned shorts and oversized ears.
With numerous awards, including honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale, orders from the United States of America, France, Brazil and Mexico, and 32 personal Academy Awards, this man is still underrated.
While others' influence may be based on ability, this man's influence is based on what is exclusively his--his creativity, innovation and genius. And while others' influence significance lasted a period of time, this man's significance lasts forever.
This man has touched the hearts and minds of millions. Through his work, he has brought joy, optimism and imagination into many lives. This man has found a universal means of communication. He has kept dreams, minds and the child in us alive with hope, laughter and love. This man has brightened the world for countless children--and adults.
This man is a legend. This man is Walter Elias Disney, Founder of the Walt Disney Company, Builder of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Creator of Mickey Mouse, Man of the Century.
1st Place - Ages 16-18
Caroline Pan (age 16)
I will shout it all over the whole city if I have to.
I consider myself, a high school student, as the most important person of the century.
I have not made my mark in this world (this is definitely the 1st time you've heard my name), invented something that has changed the course of mankind, or found the answer to life's most unanswerable, rhetorical questions. I have done none of those and I am not aspiring to be another Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein or Bill Gates.
That's because I want to to be me. Someone known for her own achievements and doesn't live in another one's shadow. Someone original because I am sick of those "The Next Girl Genius" or "The Cindy Crawford of Asia". Don't we know better? Can we not at least try to make a mark because of what we really are and not because we hide behind those who have come before us and made it?
Before we start acknowledging others for their successes, we should all start with ourselves. It never hurts to compliment yourself, especially when you know you deserve a good pat on the back. And who better to give that than yourself! I am not being egotistical. I just think that going through life, with all its ups and downs, is something worthy enough of praise.
Probably, in several years or so, I will be known for something. With your help, you can make this dream into a reality.
2nd Place - Ages 16-18
Thomas Jacob (age 17)
St. Francis College
The Most Important Person of the Twentieth Century
It was the year 1942. Milkah, the twelve year old Jewish girl was pushed into the freshly dug pit along with fifty others. She looked up at the Schutzstaffel officers, the notorious S.S., as they triggered off the machine guns, turning the brown pit into a red mass of writhing bodies.
Welcome to Auschwitz. The concentration camp reputed to have murdered about nine hundred thousand Jews because Adolf Hitler hated Jews. Such was the power of the man, the Fuhrer of Germany.
"The offspring of Germany who observes no law" was how Nostradamus, the sixteenth century astrologer and seer described the man who was to be born four centuries later.
In 1939, Hitler decided to redraw the map of Europe. He took Germany to war. Lines of armoured vehicles comprising the dreaded Panzer Divisions and the screeching Stuka Bombers of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, threatened to wipe out allied resistances. The Nazi war machine almost conquered Europe. But the world fought back. And good overcame evil.
Hitler was the cause of the Second World War. Millions died. Many lost their loved ones. Homes were destroyed. There were famines. Europe lay in shambles. Adolph (sic) Hitler had changed the destiny of the world.
Unfortunately Adolph (sic) Hitler, the person with the most overreaching influence on the century and thus the most important person of the century happens to be the most hated person of the century. A century, ecclipsed (sic) by his pure evil.
In this there is a lesson for mankind.
3rd Place - Ages 16-18
Karina Michaela F. Tacujan (age 16)
St. Bridget School
100 Years in Black and White
On a silent stage, in a black and white world, a man comes waddling toward us; he makes us laugh with his inane facial expressions and his more-than-painful slapstick comedy.
Who is this guy? Why does he do these things? We ask ourselves these questions and discover the answer when we can't stop laughing.
The man is Charlie Chaplin and though his life was very complex and sad, he did not let this hinder him from making people laugh; a feat only a handful of people has accomplished. His signature hat, cane and Hitler mustache can be recognized anywhere and up to now people still impersonate him. Anyone regardless of age, regardless of gender, regardless of race will certainly laugh at his antics. Such is the reason why he became the most important person in this century for me. His gift of laughter will echo into the next millenium (sic) and I will treasure the times he brightened up my blue days.
I cannot imagine a world without laughter. It has been apart (sic) of our culture as well as our souls. And if laughter sets us free from the burdens we carry, then Charlie Chaplin is our conduit to freedom. And so I end my essay by saying thank you to the little tramp I will remember most from this century.
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