The ATENEO Convergence Zone

Originally published at El Fuente Magazine, Youth’s Prism Issue, 2nd Quarter, S.Y. 2009-2010

Photo courtesy of Kring Reyes.

“Ateneo is the Ateneo: a separate world from the world of the margins.” These were just some of the words that outshined in Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez’s Multiply entry entitled On the Meaning of an Ateneo Education. Flashy, yet enigmatic. The question now is this: is every student in this prestigious school able to fathom the essence of the Ateneo as THE Ateneo and as Ateneans?

For more than 100 years of establishing credibility, the Ateneo has indeed formed an institution with high regard. Based from wiki.answers.com—CHED Autonomous Private Universities (2007-2012)—two Ateneo campuses belong to the top ten schools in the Philippines in terms of accomplishments and and quality education. With the efforts of expanding the scope of possibilities and reaching out to increase holistically formed individuals, the Ateneo built about six campuses all over the Philippines. In 1859, Ateneo de Manila University was established. After which is Ateneo de Zamboanga University in 1912; Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan de Oro in 1933; Ateneo de Naga University in 1940; and Ateneo de Davao University in 1948. And just in the year 1958, Ateneo de Iloilo was formed with the Grade School Department as a starter. In 1988, Sacred Heart School became the Ateneo de Cebu.

Through the years, Ateneo has pioneered a number of initiatives not only for the recognition of all the Ateneos in the country but also to further the extent of practicing Ignatian values and living out the Jesuit Holistic Formation. One of which is the Buklod Atenista. Installed in 1982, Buklod Atenista provides an adequate venue for all student councils from the five Ateneo Universities to share ideas and concerns regarding the Ateneo studentry and develop a common vision amongst the different Ateneo colleges. Buklod is grounded on the fundamental beliefs of an Atenean and its main concrete program is the Buklod Atenista Leaders Summit which is observed annually. Its principal goal is to improve the leadership skills for the delegates through dialogue and exchange for a meaningful service for the Ateneo community and for the country.

The member councils are Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola of Ateneo de Manila University, Supreme Student Government of the Ateneo de Naga University, SAMAHAN Central Board of the Ateneo de Davao University, Central Student Government of the Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan de Oro, and El Consejo Atenista of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. Aside from Buklod as a venue for exchange of a common vision for the improvement of the Ateneo studentry and of the country as well, we ask, what really is Buklod Atenista Leaders Summit in an insider’s perspective?

“Buklod is like a family reunion,” states Gabriel Ignacio “Gio” Alejo, a freshman in BS Health Sciences and Central Board first year representative of ADMU. “It is a gathering of the different clans of Ateneans who meet together in order to discuss recent issues and form stronger bonds within themselves,” Gio adds.

For John Joseph “Jay” Altea, fourth year BS Business Administration and President of the Supreme Student Government of ADNU, Buklod Atenista is considered as an umbrella organization. “Pero ‘yan lang ang mababaw na definition ng Buklod,” Jay noted. “Dito maririnig ang ekspresyon ng isang Atenista kung ano ang gusto niya para sa bayan.” For Jay, Buklod is more of the process and the output. “We made an alliance…nagsama-sama tayo para mas malaki ‘yung difference na magagawa natin sa bayan bilang mga Atenista.”

The five Ateneos take turns in hosting the summit. This year, ADZU welcomed the delegates with the theme “Vamos!: Students’ Political Engagement Towards 2010 and Beyond” on October 27 to 31, 2009. Buklod Atenista is just one of the prominent activities that the Ateneo schools conduct. Indeed, it is values-grounded, future-oriented, and Ignatian-patterned. Now, what does being an Atenean means for an Atenean? Will there be a difference wherever campus he or she is in?

Out of all the universities in the nation, Ateneo takes pride in its Ignatian Spirituality and this is what Victoria Melissa “Becky” Pulido, an AB Economics senior and president of the United Arts & Sciences Student Council in XU, pointed out. “It is about living up to the principles of the Ignatian Education,” Becky said.

Tyrone Stevenson Chua, a third year Accountancy student and Vice Governor of the Accountancy Academic Organization of ADZU, concurred with Becky’s statement. “[An Atenean] is someone who lives the Ignatian values not only in the intellectual level but also in the heart.”

In this all-Atenean gathering, different views were taken different insights were heard, and different points were noted. However, all these differences were respected with one common ground—the Ateneo Spirituality. As Ateneans, we should not only limit ourselves as individuals studying in a prestigious school. We are aware that a lot is expected from us, that we can do more—MAGIS—Ad Majorem dei Gloriam (AMDG): for the greater glory of God. And as Rob Brian Roque, a junior in BS Chemistry-Mathematical Science Engineering and Finance Officer of the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola of ADMU, stated in one of the Buklod sessions—“We, as Ateneans, do not partake the future. We make it.”

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