A Modest Proposal to the ADDU Alumni: A-1 Donors
Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ
It was St. Ignatius of Loyola who called for the magis – the more! One is challenged always to search for what more one can do for the Kingdom of God!
Some of the ADDU alumni/ae may be wondering how they may help support the mission of their alma mater. In proposing projects to our alumni/ae, I have often thought less might be more.
This is because some alumni/ae may be of the impression that unless they donate a billion-peso building, a multi-million-peso swimming pool, or a multi-thousand-peso endowment fund, or fully sponsor an expensive scholarship, they do not belong among those who support the ADDU materially. With this “modest proposal,” I certainly do not want to discourage bigger “pay-back” gifts and endowments to the ADDU. But because most alumni/ae are not in a position to make such donations today, they give nothing. It is in this context that I say: here, less might be more.
Upon leaving the Ateneo de Naga University, I made a last request to the alumni/ae when the last batch of graduates was initiated into the alumni/ae association. I asked all to support scholarships at the Ateneo de Naga. I say the same here: Please support scholarships. Please help poor but deserving students study at the ADDU!
My modest proposal to alumni/ae? Support scholarships at ADDU – as at ADNU – by donating just one peso a day – for the rest of your lives!
Most of us don’t notice the power of the peso anymore! You need PHP 8 to ride a jeep in Davao, PHP 47.50 for a liter of gasoline (PHP 57.50 for unleaded!), PHP 100. for a movie at SM-Davao, PHP 15 for a Coke, and some PHP 350. per person for a meal at Krua Thai! Most of us don’t think that a peso-a-day can enable many poor but deserving scholars to study at the ADDU. But if we pool our pesos together, it can!
How many scholars has your batch supported at the ADDU so far? When you celebrate your golden jubilees 50 years after graduation, how many scholars might you say you’ve supported through the ADDU?
Consider the following. Last year, we graduated approximately 1,000 students from our colleges. All of them took a formal pledge to join the alumni/ae association and so presumably to support the alumni/ae community and the ADDU. If each of them would donate one peso a day for the rest of their lives, every year, they shall have donated PHP 360. However, since there are 1000 of them, every year their batch would donate PHP 360,000 pesos for scholarships. Since today it costs approximately PHP 60,000 per year to study at ADDU, the sum could support six scholars. That means, after four years, one-peso-a-day shall have enabled these five students to actually graduate. If this is so, by the time the donor-graduates reach their Golden Anniversary, they shall have enabled some 75 scholars to have graduated, especially if with increasing earning power, our donor-graduates begin giving not just one-peso a day, but ten-pesos a week, or fifty pesos a month, a thousand pesos a year, or even more. Today, a bottle of good wine at Swiss Deli already costs more than a thousand pesos!
I know this is possible. When I was doing my doctoral work in Munich in the early 80s, I worked in the parish of Sankt Ulrich in Unterschleisheim. I made friends there for life. Upon my return to the Philippines, while I was serving the urban poor of in the community of Krisong Hari, Commonwealth, QC, they began setting aside small amounts of money monthly, and sending this to me to support my work with the poor. This continued over the years. Most of this money went to scholarships. Since then, some 400 Kristong Hari scholars have been able to complete college degrees in various universities. At the ADNU, since it was the Admissions Office that chose the scholars based on testing data, many of them were among the star students of the university winning national recognition for their academic accomplishments or leadership.
The money they set aside was small enough to be painless. But regularity was the secret! Many just instructed their banks to make the monthly payments into the “Pater Joel” account, then actually even forgot about it. Over the years, however, these forgotten Deutsch Marks, today Euros, created such a cash flow for our poor, that we were able to fully pay for the tuition, fees, and incidental expenses of the 400 Kristong Hari scholars we supported. The donors are often pleasantly surprised when they receive our regular reports about the numbers who have graduated or about the progress of their current scholars.
Of course, the scholars themselves -“ and their families – have been profoundly grateful. With a college degree, I have seen young graduates pull their families out of poverty.
Would we be able to get ADDU alumni/ae to pledge one-peso-a-day for the rest of their lives for scholarships at ADDU? If so, perhaps we can make a list of A-1 Donors! Could ADDU alumni/ae volunteer to make this idea work? Could we meet to organize this? If so, what is today as small as a mustard seed might develop into a tree that supports untold numbers of scholars.
Less may truly be more!
My 65th Birthday Wish
Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J.
September 23, 2012
It’s true. September 26th is my birthday. The rumor is it’s my 65th. As much as I would like to deny that, having been born in Manila in 1947, I won’t. I am now not only five years beyond the certified age of “minus 20%” in the Philippines, but I am also officially at the age of normal people’s retirement. However, since I am a cut beyond normal (XXL), since bishops are constrained by Canon Law to retire at 75, and Jesuits are normally allowed to die in the saddle, I now announce officially I am not retiring (other than every night at bedtime!). I shall continue to labor in Jesuit mission, to lead the Ateneo de Davao University as its President, to work hard for the improvement of this Jesuit, Catholic and Filipino university in Mindanao, to push vigorously for national educational reforms like K-12 and voluntary private accreditation, to be a pain to miners who destroy the environment and rob the people of the value of their national patrimony in minerals, to enjoy the best pasta in the world at La Toscana Davao, to savor the best Argentinean wine in Davao at Hotel Vicente, to jog on Mindanao’s best track in Matina, to recommend Canon over Nikon, to improve access to quality education for the poor, to proclaim the Good News and celebrate Eucharist with people who are grateful for life, love, education, an intimate relation with Jesus Christ, and a call to work for God’s Kingdom in the pursuit of the common good.
Last Sunday, I celebrated this 65th birthday jointly with father, Jose, on his 93rd birthday, in the midst of family and loved ones. I thanked God for the health of my father, and for the wealth of multiple generations of Taboras who will generously offset the impact of my being celibate on the Tabora line. “My children,” people have told me, are scholars, students, teachers and staffers for whom I care in our Ateneos. That said, before you order those wonderful birthday cakes, purchase that Rolex watch you dream of for my wrist, sign million-peso checks in celebration of my 65th (uh, please make them payable to Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Naga University, or PJAA, buy me fancy barong material, pricey Remy Martin XO for Fr. Wilmer Tria or Johnny Walker Blue for Bro. Armin and Bro. Ricky, a new iPhone 5, Nike gym togs, or (heavens!) Speedo swim wear, may I share with you frankly my genuine birthday wish? Please, simply become an A-1 donor (A-1: one peso a day for Ateneo scholars for the rest of your life) either for Ateneo de Davao University or (my other abiding love) Ateneo de Naga University. Sign up with ADDU’s Venus Rosello (firstname.lastname@example.org) or ADNU’s Karl Llorin ( email@example.com). Venus will give you an A-1 can, Karl will give you a kiss! Me? I shall be thankful for the widow’s mite in this gift, the might of many humble donors coming together to support gifted scholars in the Ateneo we believe in – with its commitment to the faith, social justice, cultural transformation, inter-religious dialogue and the protection of the environment!
For those of you who wish to join me in celebration of the gift of life on my birthday, I will be saying a Thanksgiving Mass in our ADDU chapel on Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 pm. After that, there will be a creative, yet unheard of, non-toxic merienda cena in the Jacinto Food Court, where Bong Eliab and his angels are planning some fun.