THE MONTH of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, kicked off Friday, July 3, with a compendium of activities that center on “mercy and compassion,” the Philippine Church’s theme for this Year of the Poor.
The day started with the launching of the school’s yearly Blue Spoon Feeding Program, followed by simple lunch and lugaw snacks, presentation of the new institutional segregation scheme, Troubadours mini concert, and the prayer vigil—all highlighting the call of Pope Francis to “cry with and for the poor.”
During the flag rites in the school gym, no less than school chaplain JR Orbeta Jr., SJ, led the high school community for the official start of the Iggy Bank, a three-year old coin bank drive that intends to gather money from students for the Blue Spoon Project. He asked students: “How can we continue to listen to the poor, be friends with them, and be partners with their struggle in life?”
He further congratulated the Ateneo community for donating an amount of PhP309,414.85 last year feeding 123 nutritionally “wasted” pupils; and urged them to surpass this with the target of PhP358,700.00 for this year’s feeding drive that plans to serve 288 pupils in Mandurriao district for seven months.
Grade 3 pupil Vince Kent Lord Penuela, one of Blue Spoon’s beneficiaries, thanked the community for the help and appealed to continue the drive as this has helped them “participate and learn better in school.” Led by Fr. Orbeta and principal Rosario Dordas, the feeding program was launched by a symbolic turning over of the Blue Spoon to the principals of Tabucan and Pison Elementary Schools.
The students were also greeted with simpler food e.g. veggies and fish sold to them by the concessionaires during lunch time. This was followed up with free lugaw (with the literal blue spoon) for all during afternoon recess.
Classes were shortened to accommodate the afternoon program in the school gym that started with the “Trash talk”—a dialogue with students and Manang Fe, one of the garbage pickers in Calajunan dumpsite. Manang Fe showed some still pictures about her everyday work and explained in detail how she managed to make both ends meet amid the stench, ache, heat, and “competition” in her workplace
“I must work hard to earn a living,” matter-of-factly answered Manang Fe to a question thrown to her by a student during the open forum, adding in vernacular, “even if it is raining or the sun is shining hot or we are nursing a ‘hilanat,’ we needed to bear the pain of picking recyclables, dry paper, and other stuff for this is what we do, this is all we have to do.”
To help Manang and her partners from Gawad Kalinga Material Recovery Team (GK MRT), the school committed to supply them with the necessary materials that it can collect from the school’s “trash.” This ushered in the new segregation scheme to be imposed in school beginning the middle of July.
With the help of the offices of Campus Ministry and Social Involvement (CMSI), Physical Plant, and the Student Council, the new segregation drive was launched that encourages students to segregate their trash in the following bins: biodegradables, residuals, recyclables, dry paper, PET bottles, and leftover foods.
Plan is that the recyclables and dry paper shall be endorsed to the GK MRT, while the residuals and the leftover foods shall be thrown by the maintenance staff in the school’s compost pit to be processed as fertilizer. The collected PET bottles in the specialized receptacles shall still be sold for the Blue Spoon project while the city’s garbage collector will only get from the school the residuals.
The different color coded trash bins are now being worked out by the PPO. “We hope that we can fully start before the end of July and sustain the campaign all throughout the year,” PPO supervisor Amabel Bautista said. “This is our way of helping the environment onwards for a zero-waste management.”
Scores of Atenean dancers, mainly from Baile and Adibility Clubs, also performed before the students with the tune of “Tatsulok.” The semi-dance mob stressed how necessary it is to help tilt the “societal triangle” through civic oriented initiatives and school-community partnerships.
After the “Trash Talk,” multi-awarded and internationally-acclaimed University of San Agustin Troubadours performed with their own rendition of “Paraiso” and “Heal the World.” They also joined in the succeeding vigil and exposition officiated by assistant school chaplain Fr. Rodney Hart, SJ.
Amid strong typhoon winds, the students were able to pray for “mercy and compassion” in the school gym which requires them to kneel before the monstrance as a show of respect and reverence.
Fr. Hart used “The Beatitudes” to stress the school’s mission “to be with and for the poor.” He stressed St. Ignatius’ ideals that “although not everyone is called to live a life of actual poverty, all are called to ‘live simply’ and in freedom with respect to the riches everyone has—whether they are in the form of material possessions, talents, reputation, or influence.”
“All are called to labor with Christ to help the poor and powerless in some way,” Fr. Hart said. “While we are grateful for our gifts, we are free enough to offer them to the service of God and others and to let go of them when they get in the way of that self-giving./Ripples