ADDU Leaders Sui Generis

[Address: Joint ADDU Faculty Convocation, Finster Auditorium, 6.1.12]

The Corona affair is finally behind us. Chief Justice Renato Corona has been impeached. Whether you agree with the judgment or not may depend on whether you favor a constitutional command over a particular law, or whether you believe the judgment of impeachment needs to be based more on strict evidence properly acquired, than on politics.

Finally, with the Impeachment Court off the Senate Floor, urgent pending legislation may be addressed. The K-12 law needs to be enacted; as well as a law to address the uneven playing field between SUCs, LCUs and private universities. A law on mining needs to be passed to replace the treasonous Mining Act of 1995. Debate will certainly soon resume on the Reproductive Health Bill. I am also informed that they have filed a new Divorce Bill.

Meanwhile, as we continue to yearn for structures of lasting peace in Mindanao, China is rattling its swords over the Spratlys, and the dark influence of the SMI/XStrata Mines in Tampakan appears to be forcing a relocation of B’laans from Bong Mal into Atmurok that is doomed to end in tribal war. We have had our International Conference on Mining, which has generated our running consensus at ADDU of “No to Mining – until the national governance policy on mining shall have become more pro-Filipino and more pro-environment.” As can be seen in Tampakan, even today, the mining forces defy the laws in order to attain their aims – for them, copper and gold, worth at least ten times more than the projected 6B-dollar expense. For this booty, fomenting a local war is no big deal. Neither is building a 500-hectare open-pit, 800 meters deep atop a criss-crossing earthquake fault, 12 kilometers away from an active volcano, a project that would cut away the old growth forests of the area and kill its biodiversity.

In this atmosphere, our erstwhile Chair of the ADDU Board for 13 years distanced himself from the Board. That gave us opportunity at a special joint meeting of the Corporation and Board to put a second woman and an environmental conservationist, Dr. Nina Ingle, on the Board, even as Vice Chair Bobby Orig has automatically succeeded Mr. Dominguez as Chair. The same meeting, meanwhile, decided to amend the Articles of Incorporation to include the Vision-Mission as its Preamble. That was a fitting way of honoring the process of internal renewal ongoing in the University based on the ‘soul” of the University, its Vision-Mission, – through which “shared passions” have led to a deeper sense of “shared mission. “ It also approved a Protocol on University Positions and Advocacy based on academic freedom and responsibility and the active participation of the Board in formally approving University Positions.

Our university renewal has brought about major structural changes in the University in the past year: the creation of the Office of the Academic Vice President, parallel to the Academic Council, the creation of the University Research Council (URC) and the Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC), and the vibrant activity in research, service to the community, and advocacy that has resulted from these two councils working in tandem. Last April 17-20, 2012, a Strategic Planning Workshop in Eden, began deliberations on how the Vision-Mission might be reduced to key result areas, general goals, goals, specific objectives so that every unit and sub-unit of the university plans how the V-M is to be implemented in their various levels. Among the concrete results of this Workshop were the recent approval by the Board of the School of Education, the restructuring of the School of Arts and Sciences, the approval of the Department of Environmental Science and of the Department of Entrepreneurship. With this shall be a center for educational reform and center for leadership. Soon, an Office of Planning will be created to oversee and catalyze the implementation of our plans.

All of this renewal is being underpinned by an effort to promote Ignatian Spirituality among our ranks. I made my last eight-day retreat in the old Jesuit Residence. I was alone during that retreat, but not alone in our university community in making silent, directed, personal retreats. In the first year of implementation, already some 140 from our community have made these retreats and have begun re-discovering their work day in the light of a personal experience of God’s love and Jesus’ saving mission.

This has been the introduction to my talk: a first stab at accounting for where we now are as a university.


With you permission, I would now like to take this rare opportunity of a joint meeting of the faculties of our various units to focus on a crucial challenge of our mission – the formation of leaders. It is a challenge that applies to all our units. Our mission statement says: “The Ateneo de Davao excels in the formation of leaders for the Philippine Church and society, esp. in Mindanao.” “Excels….” As we know, the present tense in a mission statement is our acceptance of a challenge to make this true within the foreseeable future. Today, we are invited to focus on this challenge from the perspective of our various units and sub-units, conscious of the fact that if we have taken on this challenge, we must increasingly qualify ourselves to form leaders and deliver in output.

Recently Fr. Provincial asked the Jesuit educators in the Philippines to contribute to the preparation of leaders among Indigenous Peoples to empower them to represent their communities’ well on local government. But this suggests that we pay attention to the manner in which we form Ateneo leaders.

Considering the leaders the various Ateneos have formed – easily found in Malacañan, Congress and the highest levels of the Judiciary, but also into the major private corporate offices of Makati, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga, in small and medium enterprises, in NGOs, educational circles and the like, both in the Philippines and abroad, there is much cause for elation, but also much warrant for consternation. Our graduates are not free from materialism, hedonism, corruption, a disconnect between faith and the manner in which they live – or don’t live – their relationship to God, to their fellow human beings, to creation. Some of our graduates are among the worst offenders against the environment. The question looms: have we done well enough in forming leaders for the Philippine church and society? Even considering that we cannot “produce” leaders like you can produce durian or steel, and that the students we have are fundamentally free, and so make their choices in life often despite their formation, can we do better at “excelling in the formation of leaders for Church and society in the Philippines….”?

The words, “sui generis,” meaning, “of its own class,” or “unique” have been used a lot recently in the course of the impeachment trial. Let us use it: Can we take shared responsibility for producing leaders for Church and society in the Philippines, but especially in Mindanao, who are “sui generis,” – in their own class? Therefore, not leaders of UP nor of UM nor even of Ateneo de Zamboanga nor Ateneo de Naga nor Ateneo de Manila, but substantially and recognizably of Ateneo de Davao.

If this were possible, let me attempt a definition: ADDU leaders are educated and formed according to the Vision and Mission of the ADDU. They have optimally benefitted from the life of the University – Jesuit, Catholic and Filipino – and have personally appropriated its values and mission. In this context, they are prepared for a life of leadership dedicated to the common good through careful cultivation of appropriate ideals, virtues and leadership skills. They may be leaders of the Catholic Church or of another Faith. They may be leaders for Philippine society, especially in Mindanao.

Let me now explain what I mean by a leader ‘formed and educated according to the Vision and Mission of the ADDU.” Unto this end, let us take the elements of our Vision and Mission and reflect on their implications for our brand of leader. The reflection, first from the Vision statement, may result in something like the following:

Our ADDU leaders are “university educated.” We are not interested in a type of Ateneo yabang. Our leaders don’t show off. But they show that they have a university education in what they have learned from ADDU: their enduring passion for truth and their joy in the truth which they have imbibed from the university. This shows in their “taste for learning” and their “taste for living.” “Taste:” they have learned to be discriminating in learning. They have reflected on and have worked out for themselves a concept of “the good life based on purpose and meaning – shaped by the demands of leadership.” They know therefore that they must cultivate, “take care of,” life. They do so in their dedication to personal purpose, their enduring commitment to integrity, their simplicity, their commitment to depth in life. They know this depth to be mediated by prayer, reflection, a taste for quiet, and an openness to abstinence. Ateneo leaders sift out and plan “a way of living as a leader” in a sea of other possibilities. They are committed to support and be supported by like-committed leaders. They are willing to network with others according to similar goals.

ADDU leaders have habits of research – habits of searching for the truth and of finding joy in truth – gaudium de veritate. They have learned how to search for truth, to sift out truth or probable truth from propaganda, gossip, or mere opinions. They cultivate their reading and their exposure to the media – taking care that both are appropriate to leadership. They respect data, as they respect authority, and so have the ability to make considered judgments. Having arrived at the truth, they are able to communicate it through writing, media, the Internet, and one’s personal word and reputation.

ADDU leaders serve the community. They know their education is not for themselves alone, so they share their education with the community.


Our ADDU leaders come from a Catholic University. They are educated Catholic Christians. Or they are educated persons of Faith. They live their faith with conscientious conviction, not fanaticism. They are hearers of the word, and doers of the word.

Educated in a university that proceeds “ex corde ecclesiae” – from the heart of the Church – they are personally committed to the cause of the whole truth about nature, the human being, and God. They have wrestled with the challenges of faith and reason, and continue to do so, allowing their faith to be challenged by reason, and their reason to be informed by faith; their faith seeks understanding, their understanding seeks faith. They dialogue with people of different cultures, they are open to different ways of life. Awed by a plurality of cultures, they continually search for the ultimate meaning of the human person in human society. Humbled by the plurality of religions, they seek to live the truth of their own.


Coming from a University that has appropriated the mission of the Society of Jesus, ADDU leaders have personally appropriated the mission of the Society of Jesus as their own mission coming from God. They have made the interrelated mission of the service of the faith, the promotion of Justice, sensitivity to cultures and interreligious dialogue their own. This is a result of honest personal reflection, prayer and discernment, which ADDU has afforded them.

In this context, the service of the Catholic Faith means the ongoing proclamation of Jesus Christ as manifestation of the Father’s saving love whose Spirit is present among his community of disciples in our world, transforming our world. It means giving witness to redemption in Jesus Christ, and participating in this transformation of the world through the Spirit. Or, it may mean living the Faith of one’s calling conscientiously.

Promotion of the Justice that Faith demands. Faith brings graced justification through Jesus Christ. It brings ultimate reconciliation with God in the saving acts of Jesus Christ.

But faith also demands justice in human relationships and in human society. ADDU leaders seek to understand, live and promote the social teaching of the Church. They are sensitive to the intimate nexus between lived faith and promotion of justice – commutative justice, distributive justice, but especially social justice. Social justice is pursued in the name of the common good. Part of the common good is the need to protect the environment from the ravishment of the few.

Pertinent to the intimate nexus between faith and justice, a Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971 declared, “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or in other words, of the Church’s mission of redemption for the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation” (Synod of Bishops, 1971, #6).

ADDU leaders are sensitive to culture and cultures, the richness of their own Filipino culture in the diversity of cultures throughout the globe. They are sensitive to the continuing erosion of cultures in a homogenized global culture, and participate in the transformation of culture as demanded by faith, justice, and dialogue with religions.

ADDU leaders are open to interreligious dialogue through personal relationships and friendships with persons of different faiths, through shared work for the common good, and, for those specially qualified, through inter-faith dialogue based on divergent theologies. This applies especially to Muslims and the diverse Lumad communities of Mindanao.


ADDU leaders come from a Filipino University. They love their country, speak one or several of its languages, appreciate and contribute to its culture and development.

They have developed their affection for the country through interaction with its peoples in various parts of the country and on various levels of society. They have travelled the Philippines and appreciate it as their home.

ADDU leaders engage the global world.

From the Mission statement:


ADDU leaders have responded positively to the mission of the ADDU to form leaders. They are its “products.” They are committed to leadership, willing to step forward and take on its responsibilities of leadership. Should they discern this as a matter of their personal vocation from God, they are consecrated to leadership.

They serve the Church sacred and sinful, “in season or out of season,” in an increasingly secularized society as circumstance and opportunity allow, or as discerned vocation demands. They are witnesses to the love and power of God. They are not haughty, not overbearing. They are leaders in service, and serve in leadership.

They lead towards the improvement of Philippine society, especially in Mindanao. As leaders, they are effective: they achieve their goals, do things well. It is ethical: it does things morally; it does good things. It is leadership that is available: it is willing and ready to lead; it does things with commitment.

They are committed especially to social justice – with eyes wide open – in service of and as demanded by the common good.

They promote communities touched and transformed by the faith, culturally resilient yet able to adopt to the modern world. “Communities” are different groups of people who share the same culture. They come into contact with the faith, and so are touched by it; some are transformed by the faith. They have a resiliency in culture, which the ADDU leaders support, even as they help these communities to open up to the world.

Resonant with the ADDU mission, they promote social justice, gender equality, good governance, wealth creation and its equitable distribution. They are defenders of the environment and preservers of bioi-diversity.


The various units will promote theories and programs of leadership development which develop ADDU leaders.


All this, of course, may seem very ideal, as indeed it is. But the challenge that I propose we take together is to use this Profile of an ADDU leader as a benchmark, and work towards its realization. Towards this end, some of the verifiable outcomes that we will aim at, adapted to our various units and sub-units, are the following:

Skills in leadership vs management vs. followership. ADDU leaders need to know how to follow, just as they need certain skills in management. But they shall be honed especially to lead.

They need the ability to think “out of the box,” critically and creatively.

They need imagination: the ability to imagine creative solutions problems.

They need to be able to communicate a vision. To inspire.

They need to have people skills both in the Philippines and in other cultures.

Skills in searching for truth or wisdom. They need skills in searching for truth – or wisdom – in ongoing personal growth. They need to know how to exploit sources of knowledge: reading skills, library research skills, internet research skills. They need to know where to get help when they need it. They needs skills of reflection, meditation and prayer.

Skills in eloquence. They can handle sustained, meaningful conversations on one’s life and on one’s views on different current public issues. They can participate meaningfully in public discussion or public debates. They can deliver a speech or address to a formal gathering of persons or to a mass gathering. They can write opinion articles for newspapers. They maintain a blog for considered personal opinion.

Skills in organizational management. They can organize an event. Or, they can organize an organization. Or, they can organize a cause-oriented movement. They prepared and coached by mentors or moderators who have given them space to lead.

Skills in Community Organizing. The ability to organize a community around issues towards winning advantage for the community against structures adverse to the community.

Skills in Ignatian Spirituality. This does not only mean skills in living one’s own Ignatian spirituality, but the skill to be able to share this with others.


Some Jesuit schools, like the Loyola Senior High School in Mt. Druitt, Sydney, Australia, only have their students for two years. Yet, when I visited that school, the leaders among the students whom I met were genuinely admirable: knowledgeable, alert, conversant in Ignatian spirituality, ambitious, focused. I am told that graduates look back to their senior high school experience with great gratitude. With the K-to-12 reform kicking in this year, prepared for by two years of pre-school, and followed by four or five years of college, we shall have many of our students for 17 or 18 years of their lives. But even if it were only for grade school or high school, or career academy, or for college or post graduate work, we should be able to form leaders for Philippine society or the Philippine Church, in a way that these kids shall never be able to forget.

In bringing the implementation of our Vision-Mission forward, I propose a university-wide, coordinated, and critical effort at developing an ADDU Leader sui generis, as described above, coordinated through a ADDU Center of Leadership.

For that we need a leadership-development infrastructure, e.g., a culture of instruction which draws out and encourages the leadership among students, encouraging them to articulate their thoughts (not memorized thoughts of others) and think “out of the box.” Such thinking should be treated with respect, in manner that is encouraging but not patronizing. In the end, it is truth that is sought, not wishful thinking; it is reality that is desired, not idle dreams.

Part of this infrastructure should be an ongoing series of administration- or teacher-sponsored talks or seminars or exposure trips where interaction of our ADDU leaders with noted leaders of the Church or Philippine society might take place. Here “noted leaders” include leaders of barangays and Lumad and Muslim communities and priests, sisters and lay persons working closely with the poor.

ADDU leaders should be active in extra- and co-curricular activities, easily able to take on the challenges of leadership in these organizations. Here, faculty or qualified staff accompany the student leaders, and coach them, especially when difficult problems occur.

There should be a systematic array of student- or faculty- organized public discussions and debates on an array of topics where the public, thinking skills and eloquence of the ADDU leaders can be exercised and honed. Participation here can be graded, and students should be able to join any of these events, limited only by the space of the venue. Service Learning Programs for Leaders have been suggested.

Our efforts of formation of leaders should be outcomes sensitive. Unto this end, a student might himself maintain a record of his exercise of leadership at ADDU, including discussion and debates participated in, papers written on social issues, authenticated by a leadership development office. This record shall be of great usefulness in the student’s application for employment.


Let me close with a simple thought. I don’t know whether you were happy or sad about the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona. His failure to properly report the bulk of his 2.4 million dollars and 80 million pesos in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) was judged to be a culpable violation of the Constitution. Even as it was asserted that he is a decent man. As a result of that conviction, today he is no longer Chief Justice.

But Chief Justice Corona was an Atenean – from grade school to law school. He was a skilled lawyer, a law professor, and became a national leader. He was one among many from our Ateneos who have become national and community leaders of significant national weight. Yet many of these leaders have lost the joy of learning, have succumbed to an insidious secularized culture of materialism and hedonism, consider the profit motive an ample norm for their lives and labors, place themselves and their family above the common good, have lost a personal sense of honor and integrity, and in many cases – through the companies their represent or own, have become the greatest offenders against the environment.

Of course, it is very easy to say, we taught them, we formed them, but they were free to make their own decisions – which is in fact true. On the other hand, because we belong to a University that is serious about our vision and mission, the question is: ought we not try to do better? Ought we not try to raise the educated and formed leaders of our future who will truly serve the common good because they have experienced the love and compassion of God and are deeply committed to the humanity God loves? I propose that we are called to put our minds, talents and awesome resources together to raise leaders for our Church and society – leaders sui generis – as only Ateneo de Davao can.  This is our mission.


About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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