Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes. PHOTOS FROM

MANILA, July 22, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Philip C. Tubeza, Michael Lim Ubac - Prelates issue challenge to Aquino ahead of SONA

Last Friday, two days before President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth State of the Nation Address, Catholic bishops asked him to show how the country’s economic growth would benefit the poor and the jobless.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes on Saturday said that many Filipinos still do not feel the economic growth that the Aquino administration keeps on trumpeting.

“The benefits of a good economy should trickle down to the poor and unemployed. As of now, the poor and many people do not feel the good economy,” Ongtioco said.

Bastes said Mr. Aquino should identify the concrete steps his administration has taken for the country to have “inclusive” economic growth.

“Despite the economic growth, the poverty incidence is still huge,” Bastes said, noting that a third of the country’s population of 95 million live in poverty.

Other bishops said the President should show what he has done to eradicate graft and corruption, especially after the eruption of the scandal involving P10 billion in legislators’ shares in the pork barrel.

Culture of corruption

“He should address the culture of corruption, but I wonder if he will consider that,” former Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said.

Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said Mr. Aquino should announce how he intended to reform the graft-ridden pork barrel.

“The pork barrel should be used for the common good. There must be honesty and transparency in reporting its use,” Lagdameo said.

“Those who misuse the pork barrel must either be deprived of it or dealt with justly,” he added.

Leave comfort zone

As if responding to the critical bishops, President Aquino called on his fellow Ateneans to “right the wrong” in society by leaving their comfort zone and striving to share the benefits of good education with the needy.

Mr. Aquino said the fight against corruption involved everyone and asked current and former students of Ateneo de Manila University to help bring about the “positive transformation of the nation.”

“You should be a man for others, that you don’t just live for yourself but especially for others,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President was the keynote speaker at the opening program of the Ignatian Festival 2013 on his alma mater’s campus in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, with the theme “Lahing Loyola Para sa Kapwa (A Loyola Race for Others).”

Ignatius’ feast

“You are an Atenean not just because you see society’s ills but, more importantly, you find the solution and you stand by the principle of doing what is right and appropriate,” Mr. Aquino said, adding that Ateneans are “not choosy with people and circumstances” to associate with.

The day-long school festival aims to gather alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff of the Jesuit-run university to commemorate the annual Feast of St. Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order.

Mr. Aquino reminded Ateneans that at the core of the teaching of the school was the resonant call of St. Ignatius to be a “man for others.”

He urged them to leave their “comfort zone” and to associate with people from all walks of life.

“Never ever fear to tread the righteous path and shun the easy but crooked way,” the President said.

Beyond social media

The President said that finding solutions to the ills of society goes beyond the four walls of the classroom, adding that discussing the country’s problems on social media is not enough.

“Problem solving can’t be done via marketing study or reflection paper, updating of Facebook statuses or [indiscriminately] posting tweets,” he said.

“It’s not enough that you only know the problem—it’s your obligation to contribute to finding the solution; it’s your duty to right the wrong. And you’ll be part of the problem if you will not act, isn’t that so? [If this is the case], you [will] fail [not only] your fellowman but [also] yourself and the institution that cared and supported you,” he said.

Mr. Aquino was educated in Ateneo from grade school to college. He graduated with a degree in economics in 1981.

Higher calling

The President sought to draw attention to the life of St. Ignatius, who gave up the privileged life of a knight from a wealthy Spanish family to serve Jesus Christ.

St. Ignatius was a soldier and it was while recuperating from a wound received in battle that he had a spiritual conversion.

He studied the life of Jesus Christ and the saints, and chose the “greater and higher call” of forming an army of Christ, Mr. Aquino said.

“As Ateneans, this is one of the most important teachings of St. Ignatius: Let’s go out of our comfort zone; be with the people,” the President said.

College mentors

He said he “owed a debt of gratitude” to his former teachers and mentors for molding his character.

Ateneo teaches that “I am in the position to help” improve the lives of others, he said, without adding that state universities and other schools also do the same.

Repeating the age-old dichotomy between success and public service (or servant leadership, as Ateneans like to call it), Mr. Aquino asked: “Isn’t this more sensible than the other institutions’ drive to enhance their students ability to quickly ascend the ladder of wealth and prestige?”

He cited the pivotal role played by his economics professor, Fr. Michael McPhelin, a Harvard alumnus, in enriching his knowledge of the subject.

He recalled debating with McPhelin matters dealing with economics and statistics during the “last 15 minutes of each and every class” held three times a week.

After passing the course, he was told by McPhelin that “he just wanted me to be like my father so he pressured me… into getting used to going through a lot of tests,” Mr. Aquino said.

Heaven after ‘purgatory’

The President did not end his speech without cracking a joke.

He said Fr. Jose Ramon “Jett” Villarin, Ateneo president, once told him that becoming President of the land was not an easy job.

“Perhaps, you’ll go straight to heaven [afterward],” Villarin said, according to Mr. Aquino.

“My question at first was why did he say that. His answer was, ‘Because this is already your purgatory,’” Mr. Aquino said.

Turning the tables on the priest, the President said he had only two years and 11 months left in office while Villarin had to endure 18 more years as head of the Jesuit-run Ateneo.

“Although I’m about to exit purgatory, I’ll still remember you,” Mr. Aquino said, drawing chuckles from the audience.

PNoy sa mga Atenista: Makipag-kapwa Ni Malou Escudero (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated July 21, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Mismong si Pangulong Aquino ang humikayat kahapon sa kanyang mga kapwa Atenista na lumabas sa kanilang ‘espasyo’ at tumulong sa ibang na­ngangailangan.

Dumalo si Aquino sa Ignatian Festival 2013 sa Ateneo de Manila University sa Quezon City kung saan ginawa nitong halimbawa sa kanyang talumpati si St. Ignatius de Loyola na hindi naging maramot na ibahagi ang sarili sa kapwa.

“Bilang mga Atenista, ito nga po ang isa sa mga pinakamahalagang aral sa atin ni San Ignacio: Lumabas ka sa nakasanayan mong espasyo; piliin mong maki­pagkapwa-tao. Kailanman, huwag kang matakot na bagtasin ang masalimuot na daan ng katuwiran, at umiwas sa madaling landas ng kamalian,” sabi ni Aquino.

Sinabi pa ni Aquino na ang pagtugon sa problema ay hindi madadaan sa marketing study o sa reflection paper, sa pag-status sa Facebook, o sa basta-bastang pag-retweet lang.

“Obligasyon mong makiambag sa solusyon; tungkulin mong itama ang mali. At di po ba, kung di ka kumilos, magiging bahagi ka na rin ng problema?,” anang Pa­ngulo.

Hinikayat din ni PNoy ang mga Atenista na isa­buhay ang mga aral na natutunan nila sa kanilang paaralan.

“Huwag ninyo sanang ikukulong sa mga gusali’t pasilyo ng paaralang ito ang diwa ng inyong pagka-Atenista. Saanmang silid kayo nag-aaral o nagtuturo, saanmang opisina kayo nagtatrabaho, saanmang ahensiya kayo nagseserbisyo—isabuhay ninyo ang diwa ng inyong pagka-Atenista; ma­ging man-for-others kayo, na hindi lamang nabubuhay para sa sarili, kundi lalo’t para sa kapwa,” ani PNoy.

Kasabay nito nagpa­salamat din ang Pangulo sa kanyang naging guro sa dating paaralan.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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