Nat’l dev not exclusive to leaders, says Ateneo Congress

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STUDENT LEADERS are not the only ones who have to get involved to make a better Philippines—religious orgs and campus publications can also take part in improving the country.

This was the thrust of the 27th Buklod Atenista, held from May 26 to 29. The Ateneo de Manila campus served as the host for this year.

Buklod Atenista is the umbrella organization of the five Ateneo universities—Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Zamboanga (ADZU), Ateneo de Davao, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan and Ateneo de Naga.

“We come together every year, we talk about particular issues for the year and possibly map out a way to work together for the coming year,” Sanggunian President Rob Roque said.

Not a report card session

For the 27th Buklod Atenista, the theme was ‘Engaging Ateneans for a Better Philippines’. Buklod Secretary-General Gio Alejo said that for this year, they wanted to change Buklod to more than just reporting what has been happening in each campus.

“[Instead] of it being just a report card session, [we planned] it to be the driving force behind the activities that all student councils and members can do. ‘Yun yung parang magiging UN kumbaga … ng Ateneo ([Buklod] will be the [United Nations] of Ateneo).”

Roque also said that they want Buklod to be more relevant to the different aspects of student life, and not just relevant to student leaders.

“For this convention, we [made] amendments regarding the purpose of Buklod Atenista and [made] it more relevant to our constituents really since Buklod Atenista is seen as a gathering only  for student leaders and has no relevance to students,” Roque said in a mix og English and Filipino.

In order to do this, delegates from Faith Formation Clusters (FFC) and Publication Clusters were invited to join Buklod Atenista for the first time.

“[Our] intention was to create the avenues…to allow the groups to work together, at the same time, at the very least share their experiences which would potentially help them have a bigger impact within their own communities in the country.”

Roque also said that adding networks to Buklod Atenista would break the notion that only student leaders can make an impact in the national scene. “Because we feel that only through engagement with other groups of goodwill can we further have impact in the national scene.”

Alejo added that “[Buklod] is supposed to be an organization which will help any Atenean wherever he or she may come from to know what is happening around him or her and for him or her to be more active in pursuing the goal which Buklod Atenista set up.”

Alejo also said that they are planning to add other networks to Buklod Atenista in the future.

Resolutions approved

During the week, the delegates discussed the problems and issues that each campus faces, and the corresponding solution. At the Buklod Atenista Congress on May 29, a total of 15 resolutions were passed, all aiming to solve the problems and issues discussed during the different sessions.

Some resolutions include technology transfer, which will identify key systems, programs and initiatives that Ateneo campuses can adopt from another Ateneo campus.

Other resolutions include declaration of basic principles of the Magna Carta of Students’ Rights, a labor code, a stricter ID implementation, and strengthened student involvement on tuition fee increase. These resolutions came from the different Ateneo universities.

The Publications Cluster and the FFC have also been permanently included in the succeeding Buklod conventions and are now called the Ateneo Publications Alliance (APA) and the Ateneo Circle of Faith Formation Organizations (ACFFO), respectively.

However, the APA and ACFFO are independent from Buklod and have no voting power during conventions.

Leadership and the nation

Aside from discussing the problems and issues that each Ateneo campus is facing, several speakers also came to talk about leadership and the status of the nation.

Lino Rivera, Managing Director of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, discussed some lessons on leadership and heroism, in the example of the aforementioned democracy icons. He advised the delegates to “give yourself totally to a cause more important than yourselves, and others will follow.”

Meanwhile, economist and political commentator Solita Monsod discussed the current economic, social and political issues that the country is facing. She said that “The price of good governance is eternal vigilance, or we get the government we deserve.”

A good beginning

Joel Aquino, an FFC representative from ADZU, said that including the FFC in Buklod Atenista was a nice beginning.

“The solutions to the problems in each Ateneo campus can be found in the other campuses,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.

Overall, Aquino said that the Buklod experience was very good. “The sessions [had] substance, and I was able to bond with the other delegates.”

Roque said that Buklod offers Ateneans unlimited possibilities and opportunities, especially in engaging for a better country.

“We are very good students. We are good in what we do. The world is there waiting for us to engage in and learn from,” Roque said.

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