Towards Making the ADDU ”Blue Knight” More Gender Sensitive

My high school years were colored by the ADMU song, “Fly High, Blue Eagle, Fly…” But when I went to ADNU, I learned to love the hymn, “From Isarog to Bicol land to lofty Mayon Peak….” It crescendos with the profound words, “Regnum Dei (…the Kingdom of God) is our cry, our fame and glory too…”

These days, especially after all our recent celebrations of service, research and outreach, I have found myself humming, “Underneath the cloudless sky….” and committing it to memory. Its gentle, rolling melody hides its stirring message that climaxes, I think, in its moving exhortation for life, “Let all you knights of Davao to God’s high command your hearts bow…”

There is a problem, however, with our ADDU Blue Knight song, which we may wish to finally address during our current annual observance of “the Role of Women in History” this month. The song’s message is stirring, but written at a time when ADDU was exclusively for males, its language is terribly gender exclusive. First, originally medieval knights were only men. Chivalry did not picture women in armor with visors high and swords in hand, but as damsels in distress who called forth the gallantry and service of the knights. We could, however, argue that that was itself hopelessly male chauvinistic, and that there were such figures in history as the redoubtable lady, Joan of Arc. So, we could cure our Blue Knight song by simply defining knights as male and female. Further cures would have to be applied to the offensively gender-exclusive expressions: “Be men of virtue tried and true…” and “So grateful sons, spread o’er the land…”

These matters considered, what do you think of the following? I know I am sallying forth against a hallowed ADDU tradition here, but I am also sure that if Fr. James Donelan, S.J. would be asked to write the song again today, he would have been more gender sensitive.

Men and women Knights in Blue
For Christ, King, fight strong and true!
With flashing steel and ringing shield
Let us sweep our battlefield!
With visors high and swords in hand
Come Blue Knights take your stand!
Fight on with virtue, strength renewed
In Our Lady’s white and blue!

Let all you knights of Davao
To God’s high command your hearts bow.
Go onward on to the fight
Where glory is shining bright.
O shake the mountains with your song
And with your banners march along!

Onward, speed you gallant knights!
Trusting God proclaim your right!
The clash of battle is sweet to hear
When the victory is near.
So grateful knights spread o’er the land
To the farthest ocean strand.
With hearty song sing loud the fame
Of our Ateneo name.

We sacrifice here “the cloudless sky “ to climate change in gender sensitivity, and the “fluttering banners” for the image of Christ the King – so central to Ignatian spirituality! We sacrifice the “armor” for renewed strength inspired by Our Lady’s colors.

Perhaps, with these changes it would be easier for our female ADDU students, teachers, staffers, and alumnae to sing along, and less embarrassing for gender-sensitive males.

If we achieve consensus, we can formally change the lyrics.


About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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29 Responses to Towards Making the ADDU ”Blue Knight” More Gender Sensitive

  1. Hey says:

    “For Christ, King, fight strong and true!”
    – how about the non-Catholics?

    • I’m afraid I honestly don’t have an answer for this since we are, by Vision and Mission, a Jesuit and Catholic University. Any suggestions?

    • Salem says:

      Im a non Catholic Christian but I do not find anything wrong with the statement. Having the word “Christ” explicitly states the very foundation of our faith which lies on the person of our Messiah Himself. This would bring greater glory to our Lord since we confess his kingship over our university to whom it is founded. It also unites the Christendom amidst the diversity of Christian tradition. It also embraces the non believers by inviting them into the LIFE, not religion, that Christ has brought through His Life, Death and Resurrection, by which the university grounds its mission. But beyond the changing of school hymn’s lyrics, we must focus more on intensifying the university mission in bringing the message of Christ to our own community and to the world since there is a huge decline in the spiritual development of the people in our generation. We must further improve the quality of education in the university, something which is comparable to that of the Platonic age or even the Renaissance era since it is observed that most of the students, even in our own university, enter into the auspices of our academic fort for the sake of passing and graduating, instead of developing themselves into emitting Ignatian excellence through their works. Let us not create graduates who are mere jobseekers. Let us create graduates who can be fortresses of God’s Living Word as we expand His Kingdom on earth by conquering the hearts of men. Let us arm them with the armor of Faith, the Sword of Righteousness and the Boots of Good News. By this, we can incarnate the very essence of our Faith and shape the youth to become “alter Christus”.

  2. charlemagne says:

    i remember during the time of Fr. Martinez, he also expressed his desire to change or modify the blue knight song because it is quite “strong” and he also understood the context when it was composed which is very much different in the present times.
    I tried to sing it loud with the new lyrics that you proposed, the second line
    “For Christ, King, fight strong and true”, is quite difficult to follow with the tune, will it be alright if it will be “For Christ THE King, fight strong and true”?
    I like the changes Father.

  3. Floyd Gamir says:

    Can we just replace the words ‘men’ and ‘sons’ instead?
    I would prefer keeping changes to the minimum.

  4. sujee isturis - sarmiento says:

    Hi Fr. Joel,

    I’m wondering…has anyone else expressed their concern about the Blue Knight Song being gender-exclusive? If no student, faculty, staff or alumni/alumnae has ever complained about it or violently reacted to it, is it absolutely necessary to change the lyrics?

    The Blue Knight Song has been loved by Davaoeno Ateneans, of both gender, for years. I went to ADDU from pre-school to high school. I’m a female and I never had a hard time singing the song. It has been a long time since my high school graduation and I don’t live in Davao anymore. Hearing/singing The Blue Knight Song “brings me home”. I can’t speak for the other alumnae, only for myself. If we change the lyrics now, I’m afraid it will not be the same song that will remind me of the wonderful years I spent in Ateneo de Davao.

    Thank you.

  5. I strongly agree with your stand Father on changing some of the lyrics of the ‘Blue Knight Song’. Gender sensitivity has been a mantra and one male chauvinist in the community should start looking back and dissect the values we stand as ‘men and women for others’.

  6. The Blue Knight Hymn is one special song we carry with us, being AdDU’s alumni. Most of us who have graduated from AdDU, men and women alike, have memorized the hymn by heart. I’m not quite sure how the others would take the changes, most especially the older batches from high school and college.

  7. Katrine Mae Maniquis says:

    Please leave the Blue Knight Song alone. I love it just as it is. I’ve been singing it since I entered the Ateneo in Grade 1 and I still sing it with my son and daughter who are now the Ateneo.

    I think there are more important issues to address — like raising the level of standards for hiring teachers — than this so-called “gender issue”.

  8. Let’s not take things literally. Are Ateneans nowadays that literal and just join the bandwagon jsut for the sake of an issue? Gone are the days of chauvinism fickle mindedness. Look at the bigger picture. Are there folks complaining of the school hymn? because if there aren’t any complaints, why fix it?

    The School hymn helps the person identify himself to the institution. Are we saying that alumni should learn the new school hymn? The Blue Knight Song has been ingrained in our hearts and minds since we were kids in pre school. It is the distinct thing that makes us different from the other Ateneo schools.

  9. Marie Lou FCRT G. Amurao says:

    I TOTALLY AGREE with Ms. Kit Maniquis here!!! The Blue Knight Song has been & is “as is” for decades now. As Ateneans, we have been honed & trained to be CONFIDENT Leaders. I believe that the kind of confidence that we acquired from the Jesuit education cannot be shaken by MERE GENDER WORDS in the Blue Knight Song. Even Joan of Arc was not bothered a bit by “gender issues”. And why bother now?

    Let us focus on the resurgence of the EDUCATION STANDARD of Ateneo de Davao University! I believe this issue must be THE PRIORITY.

  10. Khan says:

    Just my two cents on the post…If gender-sensitivity is in an issue we want to address for the benefit of not being ridiculed with the alma-mater song, then inserting “men” and “women” in the song is not enough though. The general society acknowledges (not the Church) four genders now or even four. Too many to insert in the song : ) My take on this? Stick to the old song and just let “Men” and “Sons” stand for ALL Genders. Just release a memo to the different gender groups explaining that “Men” and “Sons” symbolize the student of ADDU. Just my two cents.

  11. Marie says:

    I just totally, completely, utterly, agree with sujee isturis – sarmiento up there. I don’t think any female Atenean has ever complained about the lyrics of the Blue Knight song, and I don’t really agree on having the lyrics changed. I have been an Atenean since pre-school, til now that I am currently a 3rd-year college student. I am also a female and I absolutely love the Blue Knight song just as it is. Hearing it sort of makes me nostalgic about my younger years in Ateneo de Davao University, it really does bring up a lot of childhood memories growing up in AdDU. I know the lyrics and the melody of the song by heart and if ever that will be changed, I would really be heartbroken ’cause my childhood theme song won’t be the same anymore.
    I appreciate the effort Fr. Joel, but I absolutely believe that it is not at all necessary to have the lyrics changed. 🙂

  12. Keri says:

    Fr. Tabora, must we really change the lyrics of the blue knight song???
    I am also a female Davaoeña Atenean since forever and I loooove the blue knight song as it is. And just like any Davaoeño Atenean out there, I know the song by heart and its lyrics are embedded on my mind. And it would personally depress me if the lyrics of this song be changed. -_-

  13. jorge says:

    leave it the way it is…

  14. I don’t think changing the lyrics of our alma mater will mean anything. If the Ateneo community, particularly all of its staff, students and alumni, do not feel offended of the message of our school’s alma mater, mas maganda na hwag na itong pakialaman. Mas magandang baguhin yung mismong pinapatugtog sa skul na Blue Knight song. Hindi siya akma sa kanyang beat at even the way pagkakanta. Remember during your first AdDU Alumni Homecoming last December 30, 2011, Batch 1960 sung the Blue Knight song, as they say, the way it should be sung. So sana ganun na lang ang mas pagtuunan ng pansin at hindi ang mismong titik. But if any female staff, student or alumnae feels gender biased of this song and majority agrees with the proposal, no choice but to follow suit.

    • I was a bit emotional when I said this. But this time, I had a question that pops into my mind. When I recall the words of the Blue Knight Song, word-by-word, I realized that Fr. Donelan’s lyrics of the AdD Alma Mater emphasizes the school’s logo, “Fortes in Fide” – Strong in the Faith. With this proposed new words, does it still bring the message of the song which is the school’s motto? My point is the spirit of the Alma Mater is the motto, Fortes in Fide. I hope the proposed new words would not die the spirit of our school’s motto. Well, that’s my opinion. Thank you, Fr. President for making this proposal a reason why I appreciate my alma mater even more, and reminds us that in every thing we do in life, we should keep our faith stronger – Fortiores in Fide. God bless.

      • I think the new version, outside of being more gender sensitive, certainly enhances the message of “Fortes in Fide”. The Atenean is strong, but strong because of the faith: obedience to the Father, carrying on the fight in the service of Christ, the King, constantly renewed in recourse to Mary, Our Blessed Mother. These are religious values which are at the heart of Catholic and Jesuit education.

    • There are many women in the ADDU who have felt “excluded” in singing this song; just as there are many gender sensitive men who feel the lyrics of the Donelan version exclude women, and they are embarrassed by this. This is not just a matter of the right musical interpretation of a song, but of its being insensitive to women who very much belong to our community. That many are still insensitive to this insensitivity is not a warrant to continue it.

      • Kung talagang babaguhin ang lyrics, magkakaroon ng dibisyon or pagkakaiba. Katulad ng magkaibang bersyon ng Panatang Makabayan… I remember during the annual grand alumni homecoming last december 30, 2012, ang mga alumni na umatend sa pagtitipong iyon ay parang natameme o napatahimik ng aming kakantahin ang bagong bersyon. Parang nagulat na binago na pala ang titik ng aming Alma Mater.

  15. vero lim says:

    If the Ateneo de Davao believes that it has successfully carried on the general ideals and vision that were embodied in that song when it was first written then there is no need to change it. I cannot imagine that any Atenean will be seriously offended by the exclusion of ‘women’ in the song and I believe that this can be so because Ateneans were molded to have an open mind, and to think and feel beyond what their eyes see. Im sure there are a lot of other venues by which the school’s current stand on gender issues, etc.can be made known. It is probably best to just leave the original Blue Knight song alone.

  16. Leia Lacuesta Corro says:

    This is the song we grew up with. It is the school song we IDENTIFY with as Ateneans (of Davao) and as alumni of the university… its a song. its our song. not for anybody to change. just like that. the change you made will be a precedent to changing the song again in the future. until it will eventually just be meaningful to a few only and not to US anymore. my sons are studying in ateneo. and i will teach them the Blue Knight Song that i grew singing up to. was there even consultation done to change the lyrics?

  17. bong and paula echavez says:

    Please leave the Blue Knight Song alone. Me and my wife as Ateneans, don’t think there is a need to change the lyrics. We want our children to learn the original song…the Blue Knight song that we both sang when we were in the AdDU. Thanks!!!

  18. Floyd Gamir says:

    I guess it’s moot and academic by now since the new version is the one printed in this year’s high school student manual

  19. Binago na pala pala since it’s being printed already in student manuals and even used during the last Grand Alumni Homecoming. Sana nasabihan kami mga Alumni regarding the change before the said gathering. I would expect it magiging halintulad ito sa “Panatang Makabayan” na may dalawang bersyon, magkakaroon ng comparison and I guess, Fr. Tabora, magkakaroon ng dibisyon between the old and current Ateneans.

  20. stephen marfori angala says:

    it is best that we leave the song as it is.tradition is tradition.if we change it it’s no longer tradition.

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