It’s true. September 26th is my birthday. The rumor is it’s my 65th. As much as I would like to deny that, having been born in Manila in 1947, I won’t. I am now not only five years beyond the certified age of “minus 20%” in the Philippines, but I am also officially at the age of normal people’s retirement. However, since I am a cut beyond normal (“XXL”), since bishops are constrained by Canon Law to retire at 75, and Jesuits are normally allowed to die in the saddle, I now announce officially I am not retiring (other than every night at bedtime!). I shall continue to labor in Jesuit mission, to lead the Ateneo de Davao University as its President, to work hard for the improvement of this Jesuit, Catholic and Filipino university in Mindanao, to push vigorously for national educational reforms like K-12 and voluntary private accreditation, to be a pain to miners who destroy the environment and rob the people of the value of their national patrimony in minerals, to enjoy the best pasta in the world at La Toscana Davao, to savor the best Argentinean wine in Davao at Hotel Vicente, to jog on Mindanao’s best track in Matina, to recommend Canon over Nikon, to improve access to quality education for the poor, to proclaim the Good News and celebrate Eucharist with people who are grateful for life, love, education, an intimate relation with Jesus Christ, and a call to work for God’s Kingdom in the pursuit of the common good.
Last Sunday, I celebrated this 65th birthday jointly with father, Jose, on his 93rd birthday, in the midst of family and loved ones. I thanked God for the health of my father, and for the wealth of multiple generations of Taboras who will generously offset the impact of my being celibate on the Tabora line. “My children,” people have told me, “are scholars, students, teachers and staffers for whom I care in our Ateneos.” That said, before you order those wonderful birthday cakes, purchase that Rolex watch you dream of for my wrist, sign million-peso checks in celebration of my 65th (uh, please make them payable to Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Naga University, or “PJAA”!), buy me fancy barong material, pricey Remy Martin XO for Fr. Wilmer Tria or Johnny Walker Blue for Bro. Armin and Bro. Ricky, a new iPhone 5, Nike gym togs, or (heavens!) Speedo swim wear, may I share with you – frankly – my genuine birthday wish? Please, simply become an A-1 donor (“’A-1’: one peso a day for Ateneo scholars for the rest of your life”) either for Ateneo de Davao University or (my other abiding love) Ateneo de Naga University. Sign up with ADDU’s Venus Rosello (firstname.lastname@example.org) or ADNU’s Karl Llorin (email@example.com). Venus will give you an A-1 can, Karl will give you a kiss! Me? I shall be thankful for the widow’s mite in this gift, the might of many humble donors coming together to support gifted scholars in the Ateneo we believe in – with its commitment to the faith, social justice, cultural transformation, inter-religious dialogue and the protection of the environment!
For those of you who wish to join me in celebration of the gift of life on my birthday, I will be saying a Thanksgiving Mass in our ADDU chapel on Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 pm. After that, there will be a creative, yet unheard of, non-toxic merienda cena in the Jacinto Food Court, where Bong Eliab and his angels are planning some fun.