Author with Ateneo de Manila University President Fr. Jett Villarin S.J.

The evening of Tuesday, Februaury 16, 2016 was the Ateneo De Manila University Faculty Awards for the Basic Education unit. Moments like this always give me a special feeling. It was a familiar place, a nice cool evening, a comfortable breeze and Cidette was an awardee.

It was the speech of university president Fr. Jett Villarin that gave me a thought. He started his speech by saying “The Mission of the Ateneo for her graduates are-academic excellence, social awareness, a strong sense of right and wrong, to live out the Ignatian value of Magis.”  Somewhere he also mentioned about discernment when making choices and decisions. This led me to another thought-why do Ateneans go astray?

As a young man, the most popular example to me of such, were the Ongpin siblings. Both Jesuit educated, both Harvard Bussiness School MBA graduates, both with a  strong love of country, both brilliant, passionate at what they do. One chose to support a dictatorship, the other the opposition. Legend has it that when the outgoing cabinet of the dictatorship paid their courtesy, all the cabinet secretaries lined up with then President Corazon Aquino shaking each ones hand, when she got to Bobby V. Ongpin he would shake her hand and say “I’m the other Ongpin,” they say that President Aquino’s smile seemed like a smile of respect. Legend has it that RVO could have three VPs infront of him and fire away 3 different topics, moving from one executive to another and back to another without missing a beat. Jaime V. Ongpin the younger sibling, they say was the more deliberate type of leader and just as brilliant. I receive a yearly invitation to the JVO Memorial Lecture that always reminds me of two Ateneans who took different paths.

When my daughter was interviewed for Law School, of course at the Ateneo, she was asked why she wanted to have a Ateneo law degree? Before she could answer, the interviewer would follow- “Do you want to be like…they are all Ateneo Lawyers.” The interviewer named big named politicians, government officials, captains of industry, all controversial, all Ateneans. The speech of Fr. Villarin would mention that Magis could be used in a wrong way but the bigger Ignatian picture makes us Ateneans choose to do what is right.

At the end of the evening Cidette would say good night to Fr. Villarin where I managed a short conversation with him. At one point I told him that Cidette was more Atenean than I and had a very strong Ignatian influence. Fr. Villarin would say-“Thank you for sharing her to the Ateneo.” The connections of my life (my education and Cidette) to the Ateneo have one thing in common- Ignatius. It is disappointing that there are Ateneans that go astray.

Here is something for all of us, as we enter Holy Week.

The Ignatian Way #2: Ignatian Spirituality: An Overview