Ultimately, blogs are meant to be read. This is why I am grateful to Mr. Rico Oñate for giving my blog such a prominent spot in this Official Website of the Ateneo de Davao Alumni Community: http://www.ateneoalumni.net. Here, some of the thoughts I have about the Ateneo de Davao University, the role the ADDU alumni might play in its further development, national educational reform, and the various socio-political advocacies of the ADDU in the context of the Jesuit mission in the Philippines might be articulated and discussed with alumni/ae. Many of the homilies which I have opportunity to write out find their way into this blog. Occasionally, even rather personal thoughts.
Originally, I began writing this blog as a way of forcing myself to articulate thoughts on issues with which I am concerned. Blog writing is not as rigorous as “scientific” writing. Tentativeness is its privilege, even if this is sometimes waived in favor of “statements.” In this blog, there is an effort at finding and expressing truth. That is seldom easy. Often, comments from others help those efforts succeed. In my job at ADDU, interaction with the ADDU alumni/ae community through such a blog would be invaluable.
On June 3, 2011, just three days after I was officially “in office” as ADDU President, I was pleased to be invited to a very pleasant supper at Davao’s Kroa Thai. My hosts were key alum representatives: Melvin Lacuna, Jimmy Rodriguez, Sansan Fernandez, Donie Barangco, Rico Oñate, amd Sonny Aledia. Fr. Rene Ocampo, S.J., ADDU Alumni Director, was also present. I thank them for this evening! The food was exotic. The conversation engaging. Their welcome warm.
For this blog, I thought I might share with all some of the thoughts on alumni/ae I began to share with that group. Perhaps we can now extend the conversation to all.
Recently, in a faculty assembly, I mentioned something which is perhaps too regularly taken for granted: the way that the ADDU affects society is primarily through its principle product: its graduates. It is not the occasional effort to build houses for the poor nor the laudable projects to re-populate our forests or clean up our rivers that is its main way of serving society. Its principal contribution to society are its graduates, or its alumni and alumnae, who – hopefully through the education that is theirs through the ADDU! – are not only good professionals but also good persons. If the ADDU serves society, it is principally because in Davao and in Mindanao society is enriched through the entrepreneurs, the managers, the lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers and artists that make their knowledge and skills available to society. It is hopefully also because the ADDU graduates people who are good human beings. Good human beings function well not only professionally, but humanly: they know how to think, to learn, to love, to appreciate and take responsibility for people in their families, their circle of friends, their society. Of course, not everything our alumni/ae are or do can be attributed to the school; but many times, through a course, a counselor, a teacher, a friend, a program in school, they are – like the manner in which one values truth over image, service over selfishness, right over wrong, love over egoism, God over wealth Similarly, when the ADDU graduates’ values are skewed or selfish or anti-social, it is also often attributable to what happened or did not happen in the school.
Sometimes, alumni/ae ask: Why should we make time to get together with other alumni/ae? Here is a justification well beyond the more common reminiscing and jovial celebration of old times in school. Alumni/ae may come together to get in touch with the deeper values, social and personal, that one learned in school, and to support one another in living them. Whenever this happens, a real service is done of translating the merely ideal into the difficult real, and the effective “social service” of the school is enhanced. When alumni get together to support one another in protecting the environment, in fighting corruption, in teaching catechism to the ignorant, in serving the sick, or just in helping one another remain faithful to their spouses and keep their families whole and healthy the school somehow succeeds in their service. Of course, the opposite is also possible. Alumni/ae can get together to use their education and school connections to plot and scheme against what is right and just. When such happens, it is a personal failing. But it is also a failing of the school. And its effective “social service” is injured.
Perhaps, in a well-functioning alumni/ae association, this aspect of alumni/ae supporting one another in living out values learned in school might be more appreciated. If alumni/ae “network,” it may not only be to develop friendlier markets among alumni/ae, as useful as these may be. It may also be to help one another better live the ideals that have come with the ADDU education.
Another reason why alumni/ae come together is to help one another out. This is in fact rather remarkable. Why one would help a son or daughter, sister or brother, father or mother in need is rather obvious. It is similar when one helps out a good friend in need. What is rather startling is when one witnesses alumni/ae really going out of their way (i.e., digging deep into their pockets) to help a member of a class or a member of a batch in a situation of need. This may be an illness or a crisis in the business or even difficult run-in with the law. In such situations, I have often witnessed alumni/ae coming together just to help – not due to any deep personal friendship with the person in need, but simply because s/he’s a fellow alumnus/a. There was once an alumnus of the AdMU who needed a serious operation for cancer. I know his batchmates underwrote the costs. Somehow, having come from the same school, having profited from a shared culture, having had the same teachers and undergone the same tests and punishments, and having gotten ahead in life, warrant coming together to help a fellow alumnus/a in need.
Alumni/ae also come together to help the school. Perhaps helping schools is not as culturally prized in Philippine culture as in the Chinese or Jewish cultures. But sometimes, alumni/ae come together to help the school – through a scholarship, an endowment fund, a donation of a basketball court, or a gift of books. Last week, in celebration of The Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Matina, we laid a wreath at a newly gilded stature of St. Ignatius offering his sword to the Lord. The refurbishing of that statue, I understand, was the project of a group of alumni/ae, just as the donation of the new Golden Knight there was the project of another group.
How alumni/ae can help the school may be the subject of another blog, in case you may be interested. Just as how values learned in school might be better lived, or how alumni/ae in need might be helped may be subjects of other blogs. For now, it is sufficient for me, through http://www.ateneoalumni/net, to greet all the alumni/ae of ADDU, and to thank you for putting this blog on your webpage!