Originally written on December 2008 for TWELVE Magazine, Magazine Production Class of the Mass Communication Department, School of Liberal Arts, Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
Eagle soaring motionless at the entrance. Plastic bags with leftover sauce and barbecue sticks scattered on the campus grounds. Shirts, DVDs, and accessory booths displayed quiescently at every corner. Blue and white banderitas hang blankly, obstructing the clear blue sky. And finally, students anxious in their school uniform amidst all these fiesta landscape. As a sophomore Nursing student would put it, “the worst mistake ever.”
Ateneo fiesta is not just one of the much-awaited events in an Atenean’s life. It is the highlight of being an Atenean. The fiesta event is onr major ground where students, teachers, and staff could showcase their talents and skills. Thus, living out the pride of Jesuit Education: the holistic formation—taking care of the heart, the mind, and the body. It is a conducive arena to exhibit and enhance these very aspects of a student’s life in the community and as a community. “AtFest, admit it or not, is one of the greatest opportunities of students in ADZU to express…their care for the college…to work as a community. [However] this time, they undermined the AtFest,” states one College of Science and Information Technology student.
For the past years, the fiesta is celebrated for nine days with series of sports and non-sports events. However, for this school year, there was a change in this practice. From nine days of total abstinence from projects and quizzes to five days dragging fiesta spirit. “They’re ruining the tradition,” says another second year Nursing student. “Because of the class day in between, the spirit of the Ateneo fiesta subsided.”
This school year, the fiesta unofficially started on November 29. Sport eliminations were held then. Classes were resumed on December 02 followed by a half-day class the next day. The fiesta officially started on the afternoon of the 3rd of December. One School of Liberal Arts student complains that she cannot see the point of having a class day amidst the celebration. “It was just a waste,” she adds.
As stated by Manuela Quimson, AtFest Steering Committee Head, December 03 was actually the official opening day of this school year’s fiesta celebration. This was primarily because the organizers could not compress all the sports events in the five-day fiesta proper. “It was requested by the sports committee, that there would be a three-day elimination round (from November 29 to December 02),” she discloses. “Our concern is the students, the players themselves.” Participants of various sports events would not be able to have a breathing period between elimination and final rounds if all the events would take place in just five days. That is why they had to adjust the schedule. “In general, we are still in the process of learning…adjustment period. Marami talagang pagbabago,” Quimson adds.
According to a program officer in the institution, this change is indeed something new, something out of what we are used to. “I just hope that it will work out next time because at this moment, it did not,” he expresses. “Hindi kasi ganoon kaplanado…hindi nga maganda ang feedback ng mga students eh,” another program officer conveyed.
Indeed, change is the only constant thing in this world. And the new administration did prove that to us. A lot of alterations and modifications were implemented. However, cliché as it is, there is always a tendency to commit mistakes and that we should learn from them. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong in exploring other possibilities. And maybe, one of those possibilities is to consult with the students of the changes that the administration is planning to carry out. After all, we all want to rekindle the fire, to grow in friendship, and to be sent to the frontier not just as an individual Atenean but as an Ateneo family.