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Brainstorm: The Next Generation | The Ateneo way

“Cut Me, and My Blood Will Be Blue”, some would say. I am Ateneo born and bred, having been educated at the Ateneo de Davao from Montessori until the College of Law.

What does it mean to be an Atenean, the Davao kind at least? If you were to encapsulate it in a single word, what would it be?

MAYABANG, many people would say and, to as certain extent, there is some truth to it though I would say that this is more due to misunderstood confidence than actual hubris.

Ateneans are trained, early on, to be critical thinkers and, more importantly, to have the courage to be candid in voicing out their opinions. Many times, this is perceived by others to be unbridled hubris. While it may come out that way, it is not.

In my case, this has backfired on the Jesuits in more ways than one. I remember a situation where I was complaining about an issue that had to do with student elections way back in high school and the Jesuit scholastic involved confronted me by saying that I was being arrogant in stating my complaints against his decision.

I calmly answered that from way back in Montessori, the Jesuits have always told me to speak my mind and I was doing just that. I then asked him whether or not what I was taught was wrong and he just stood there looking dumbfounded.

To me, what happened is a good example of what it means to be an Atenean. The scholastic in charge imposed a unilateral change in the rules covering student elections and I found it to be unreasonable and unfair as it prejudiced some candidates and necessarily favored others (BTW I was not a candidate but only the campaign manager of one group).

Seeing this, I did not hesitate to go directly to the scholastic to voice my position but he took it badly and concluded that I was just being an arrogant student because I refused to just abide by what I found to be his oppressive decision. I did so simply because I felt it was unfair and unjust and I was trying to defend the interest of the prejudiced candidates. Come to think it, this was actually my first taste of lawyering.

What I am driving at is the fact that the Atenean ideal can be best described in what we were trained to strive for, that is, to be “Men and Women for Others”.

Based on Ignatian Spirituality, this ideal means that we have to try our best to rid ourselves of the tendency to always put “me and mine” first but, instead, to base our daily decisions on how it will affect others and whether or not it will be good for other people. This is very difficult to do which is why it is called an ideal, something to strive for and something to pursue despite repeated failures.

Through his Jesuit education, an Atenean is presumed to have been given the tools of knowledge, ability and, most importantly, the moral compass to use these tools with the interest of others, more than himself, in mind.

For me this is what it means to be “blue-blooded”. It is not the ability to speak English with an “Arneo” accent, much less is it the false pride based on having come from a “high-class” school.

A true Atenean lives with the realization that the gifts he has been given in life were given with the responsibility to utilize them for the betterment and upliftment of the lives of those around him. This is ANIMO ATENEO!

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