How tragic it would be for blue eagles to follow a wrong flight plan and end up in the opposite direction—Fr. Salvador “Buddy” Wee of the Society of Jesus (in his article ‘The Blue Eagle of the Ateneo de Zamboanga’).
As I listened to the eye-opening delivery of this piece—or what may seem to be a sermon, a call to go back to the righteous path—I could only think of how my fellow Ateneans, perhaps this group of 60 students or more can represent the entire Ateneo community, would react to this. Some would be appalled and would more or less react to this negatively. Others may be too passive about it, that they would rather remain apathetic towards it because it would be quite a bother. While few of us might be challenged enough to think and reflect; to pause and give time for a chance to see where we are headed to, if we still live by the words we swore in front of our high school teachers and with our fellow blue-blooded family: PRO DEO ET PATRIA (FOR GOD AND COUNTRY).
Fr. Buddy talks about how there are two kinds of Ateneans: fake and true blue-blooded. The former are those who have lost the Ateneo flight plan, who have become too full of themselves for being branded as Ateneans thinking that they are marked with the prestige of the name, that they are above others instead of being for others. In contrast, the mark of a true blue-blooded is humility and magis demands more humility, and more of service for others, and for God. The Ateneo flight plan is the right path, he says. The Ateneo flight plan is to put the need of others ahead of yours because you are already blessed, because the greatest love one can have is to offer one’s life for others.
And Fr. Buddy continued on how Ateneans have turned more fake over time, how we are too focused in new fads, in advanced technology, in the material things and prestige—how we are so blinded with the prestige that comes with the Ateneo name, prestige that society itself has placed on our university.
But have we all taken a different course? Have we really flapped our wings with all our might and desired to go and chase after newfound heights? Aren’t we all, still within the four walls of the university, still eggs yet to hatch? Aren’t we all still with the university, with our Jesuit fathers, with our esteemed professors trusted by the priests who look over the university with loving heart and a mission to form students?
A mission to form students. The talk that Fr. Buddy gave, although inspiring and has more truth than we could all admit, seems to put blame on the students. And I only have more questions than I have answers. I have more doubts rather than clarity or inspiration. And I ask myself: are we not mere teenagers, un-hatched Ateneo eagles still waiting to be guided, and yet to be taught more of, and be shown of what the right fight plan is, so that we could follow the soothing wind that is Christ’s breath of life? Are we not?
What is it that the Ateneo stands for really? The Ateneo as an institution, and not the community itself of students, graduates, professors and every individual who belong. What does Jesuit education have to offer to us? Should it not be guidance? Should it not be to be shown of what the right flight plan is—which is to be excellent in whatever we do for God and for country and with our excellence comes magis, more of us for God and for our people, more of us to be given up to achieve the greatest love. And with that we achieve citizenship and spirituality. Two of the university’s three core values.
But to be for men and women speaks so much of the elitism that we are so often told to not embrace. Because to be for men and women screams of our people to be needing us, as if we are heralds of help and guidance. But we are not. We are just like any other person, only with a Jesuit education, acquiring the Jesuit values of always being in the service of others. But we are just like any other person; we need them as much as we think they need us. And here lies the fault in our school’s motto. To say that it is mere syntax or semantics playing right there is pure naivety. I have been an Atenean all my life and I have always asked myself why I should be for others as I may be lacking—always lacking—that I as well need them. Then, I believe that I am for and with others, that to truly experience others I should be with them in our struggle of lights and shadows. I believe that being an Atenean means that you live by the core values of the Ateneo, the nest that has been home for you all your life, yet you are prepared to take flight, to take all these values with the most flexible morality in order to truly be for and with others.
And to be an Atenean is to be human—to shed the image of perfection unveiling the many patches of imperfections in your being. To be human is to be susceptible to making mistakes, to taking a wrong path. But what matters most is that you could manouever amidst the raging winds of time and life, and get back to where you are supposed to soar to, to the heights that you have been inspired to conquer.
The Ateneo stands a hundred years or more. The Ateneo is an institution of continuous and continual change as it forms people into those who are ready for the struggles of life, of the real world—to battle injustices and to be for and with others, personal or not. The Ateneo is our nest. And our Jesuit Fathers are our mentors, our guides. And I could only wish we could be guided, be always guided to the right course of life. So that once we break through our shells, we would know how to spread our wings on our own and charge towards the raging winds of reality.