Where society is the final frontier.
With a nostalgic Philo103 paper at hand, I disclose to myself ten things:
1. PHILOSOPHY. Intimidating as it may be, philosophy, in its most naked form, is actually the backbone of the education you get from an institution that is governed by the men of Loyola, the Jesuits. Although one may not get to achieve the intellectual orgasms of Kant, Heidegger, Marx, Mill, and even Bentham inside the classroom, the bittersweet outburst of philosophical arguments even in his or her most ordinary hour may be enough to let him or her realize the importance of confidence on rational thoughts in everyday life.
2. THEOLOGY. Even though I shamefully admit that the act of going through 9 units of theology thoroughly validated my growing metaphysical uneasiness during my college years, I still support my conviction that every student (or person, for that matter), regardless of how he or she is uninterested or immersed in the structure of a religion or personal beliefs, can make use of some theological principles in order to see the social realities through a process of critical thinking, gradually mull over it, and eventually take practical action.
3. CORE. It is perfectly normal to acknowledge that your core courses can be more demanding than your major ones. Aside from the famous philosophy and theology classes one gets to sink his or her teeth into, core courses such as, general psychology, basic economics, literature, and even that Sining ng Pakikipagtalastasan will always be there to meddle with your transcript of records in exchange of knowledge about… well, almost everything. On a lighter note, if a student takes his or her studies quite seriously, he or she just might be able to frolic around the center and outskirts of town and say “I may not know everything, but the things I need to know… I know them very well.”
4. SHIFTING IDENTITIES. The so-called monoculture of elitism in the school that trickles down to every last Atenean does not have to hold any significance when one recognizes the identity of becoming “men and women for others”. It’s distressing to see how the bold spirit of service is sometimes eclipsed by the perceived exclusiveness of the school brought about by the towering tuition fees and the purported stereotype of an Atenean.
5. ENVIRONMENT. The idea of Ateneo being far from the real world environment can be considered a product of the lack of basic sociological propositions. If you are a reincarnation of Jean Baudrillard who perceives the Ateneo experience as a hyperreality full of jaw-dropping and meaningless spectacles, then I humbly invite you to deconstruct any recursive relationships present between the school environment and the “real world”. If the harsh realities about the world I encountered during my stay in the university are far from what the truth out there, then mother of god… Get a bucket of freezing water and pour it over my head. I must be dreaming.
6. PRESCRIPTION. With an Ateneo education, the act of illustrating best solutions, ideal situations, and romantic prescriptions cannot possibly be compared to spoon-feeding. It is through this aspect that one sees how education can be a tool to accept the status quo in society or criticize the idealistic undertones in order to exercise the capability to change the given situation into the best one.
7. IMPLOSION. Borrowing Baudrillard’s term, one can appreciate the essence of an Ateneo education when he or she sees the unification of the humanistic and the scientific, and the philosophical and the empirical. The combinations may be seen as an exercise of both reflection and rationality. Weber, anyone?
8. CURA PERSONALIS. The terms “cura personalis”, “men and women for others”, and “magis”, may sound cliché from time to time, but the spirit that should pervade among Ateneans must stem from a true sense of generosity. From the thoughts of Paulo Freire, this generosity must embody a helping hand that extends to the marginalized and become capable of working and transforming the world.
9. WORTH. The symbolic profit you get from an Ateneo education can only be maximized if you recognize its inherent value and embody it in life with… yes, magis.
10. BRANDING. The Ateneo name is incredibly loaded with socially constructed meanings. At times you may encounter people who feed on stereotypes to quickly judge you and even burden you with certain expectations, but at the end of the day, it is up to you how to prove and establish your identity as an Atenean. A real one, for that matter.
This entry is inspired by Jean Baudrillard’s sociological terms and Paulo Freire’s “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”.