Quantcast
Latest Stories

A week of leadership the Jesuit way

By

CHILDREN in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, mug for the camera. Mark Que/CONTRIBUTOR

It was noon. For four hours, 35 of us students from five countries worked side by side with teachers and construction workers to build two Gawad Kalinga (GK) houses in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

The Australians dug ditches, the Indonesians mixed cement, the Japanese carried bags of sand, the Hong Kong residents passed buckets of gravel, the Filipinos did a bit of everything.

As children weaved in and out around us, zooming around with makeshift toys, their mothers passed hollow blocks to us. The lolas shouted encouragement.

The kids teased us, we teased back, their happiness infectious. Soon we were playing with them. After all, as Xavier School director Fr. Ari Dy, SJ, emphasized in his homily on Martha and Mary, listening and being fully present did as much good as busying ourselves in tasks.

Despite my aching back, I felt immense joy.

Dead or alive

The Ignatian Student Leadership Forum (ISLF), a weeklong immersion program in July under the Jesuit Conference of the Asia Pacific, was instituted last year under former director Fr. Johnny Go, SJ.

ISLF coordinator Brian Maraña said the goal was to form student leaders in the tradition of Jesuit founder

St. Ignatius. Seven students from each of five Jesuit schools (St. Ignatius Riverview College in Australia, Wah Yan College in Hong Kong, Canisius College in Indonesia, Sophia Fukuoka in Japan and Xavier) lived, explored and, in true Jesuit tradition, bonded.

The week started with a showcase of our culture. With teachers Palan Reyes, Alex Santos, Alvin Ang, Jules Hernando, Franco Addun, Glenn Gomez, Christian Bumatayo and Mark Que as guides, we visited San Sebastian Church, lunched in Binondo, toured Intramuros.

As a Filipino, I have taken things for granted. But as I narrated the epic story of 1986, described a sari-sari store, discussed territorial disputes to my newfound friends, I finally appreciated my own culture.

Touring foreigners around my own hometown made me see the familiar with new eyes. I noticed the piquant smells of Chinatown, the serenity of Edsa Shrine in the midst of a bustling city, the flag waving over Bagumbayan, now Luneta.  And, as I retraced Rizal’s footsteps to his martyrdom, I feel proud to be a Filipino.

But I also came face to face with the stark contrast between rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless.

Participants learn welding at Erda. Brian Maraña /CONTRIBUTOR

In Quiapo, we paid homage to the Black Nazarene and ventured into the iconic tiangge, all the while trying to dodge pickpockets and beggars. In contrast, on the other side of the metropolis, at the sprawling American Cemetery, walls sparkled and sprinklers hummed over trimmed grass and perfectly aligned graves.

An Australian commented, “More money is spent on the dead than on the living.”

Not so different

In the technical school run by the Educational Research Development Assistance (Erda) Foundation in Pandacan, Manila, we worked with our hands, knees and tongues. Principal Marc Magsalin said Erda trained streetchildren, kids in conflict with the law, out-of-school youth in various trades so they could earn a living.

We tested circuit breakers on the factory floor. We welded objects together in the manufacturing workshop. We baked brownies in the kitchen.

My favorite was working on a drum brake, the contraption in the rear of a  car that stops the wheels from turning. It was tough work. Just removing the bolts required a giant wrench, a spray can of WD-40, one person to hold the wheel, another to kick and tug at  the wrench and two photographers-cum-

cheerleaders to egg us on.

What students learned at Erda were not what we studied in Xavier. That did not mean they were less difficult or less essential. I was taught how to fix the brakes by a girl my age.

At lunch in the home of an Erdanian, we ate galunggong, mongo soup, sinigang, mangoes, all with our bare hands.  The fare was simple, but the hospitality grand. An Indonesian marveled that the taste was similar to what he ate at home.

“We share Malay blood,” he concluded, smiling at our host.

We repaid the Erda students’ generosity by showing them around Xavier. They drank in the sight of our football field, basketball courts, spacious canteen with a huge variety of food (compared to only one concessionaire at their school).

One Erdanian turned to me.  “Your school is so big, you have so many things. How can you not want to learn?”

GK and Erda were memorable experiences, but sharing them with peers from other nations made them more meaningful. At first, mingling with one another was a duty.  Though everyone could speak English, proficiency levels varied. Many of us felt more comfortable speaking in our own languages.

A foreman gives instructions to the author and another participant. Mark Que/ CONTRIBUTOR

But pusoy dos (Big Two in Australia) saved the day.  Apparently, card games are universal. Whether stuck in traffic, before dinner or after reflection time, we brought out packs of cards  with various motifs (Indonesian batik, Bicycle classics, Philippine Airlines) and played.

Ignatius started out as a bully, a brusque Spanish soldier who wanted to glorify himself in the service of the king. But when a cannonball injured his leg, he spent his time reading the Bible and the “Lives of the Saints.” Afterwards, he dedicated his life to God.

Although ISLF is a leadership forum, we did not tour Malacañang, Congress or the Philippine Stock Exchange. We did not attend seminars by business executives or government officials. Instead, we fixed cars and built houses. We listened to school chaplain Fr. Art Borja, SJ, guide us toward discernment and Australian rector Fr. Ross Jones, SJ, talk about our Lord’s preferential option for the poor.

For ISLF, a true leader is one who follows in the footsteps of the Lord. A leader is one who listens to the people and knows how to discern right from wrong. A leader is one who serves the people, especially the underprivileged.

As my Australian friend put it, “Quantum potes tantum aude. So much as you can do, so dare to do.”

Scott Lee Chua is a second-year high school student at Xavier School. His book of essays “My Take: Growing Up, Liking It So Far” is available at National Book Store.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: ignatian student leadership forum , Jesuits , Leadership , Learning




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  2. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Thoughts on Holy Week
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
Advertisement

News

  • DOH asks co-passengers of OFW carrier to test for MERS-CoV
  • ‘Shouldn’t we move?’ Ferry evacuation under scrutiny
  • 5.5-magnitude quake hits Sultan Kudarat
  • Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  • Firetruck rams California eatery; 15 injured
  • Sports

  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • Business

  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement