At convocation

My university stages a special academic convocation before St. Ignatius Day. It was seen by myself and by many others, back, as a mentor of mine would say, when I was young and full of hope, as a necessary break, albeit a short one, on one day of the school year. For the Ateneo de Manila University, this event is of such importance as it highlights, in a significant way, what the University values. It is a pity that few undergraduate students attend, like myself in a former life.

This year, I decided to attend it. The convocation was held on a somewhat rainy/sunny/overcast afternoon in the Henry Lee Irwin Theater, and one whole block of seats were filled by people in academic dress. While I made a mental note to make sure that, if I have a hood made, it should be a real hood, not a cape, I was astonished by what some of the awardees achieved. The Ateneo de Manila website will, in the coming days, tell us more about who were honored, but I can cite a few examples.

One awardee was a doctor who declined offers to work in the US to serve rural communities in the Cordilleras, a place which in coming years will become closer to me than I once thought. Another was a principal who turned his elementary school around, from being a decrepit cellar dweller to a high achieving school with decent classrooms (thanks of course to the city government). Of course, I was entertained by the Philippine Educational Theater Association, who received this year’s Tanglaw ng Lahi Award, and who accepted it by presenting a scene from their next child-oriented play.

One alumnus I know wonders why students were not being made to attend this. Well, I would understand why people would not want to go—it really is a short and necessary break. But there is something profoundly formative about these rituals, and subversive too. It teaches us that, at heart, the University still tries to teach that there is something beyond what the supposedly “secularized” world can offer. More precisely, that something intrudes into the world, appropriates it, and transforms it. The world can sometimes try, with some success, to appropriate what that something is, but it will ultimately fail.


I have been reading a book about Ignatian humanism, by a lay professor at St. Louis University, Ronald Modras. What he has to say is interesting and useful, for one who takes the Ignatian tradition for granted. What I have said above, in my last paragraph, echoes a particular sentence in a foundational Ignatian document, the Spiritual Exercises. I might as well tell you that you can find two versions of the First Prinicple and Foundation, from which the sentence is taken, here and here. Both are contemporary inclusive language versions, with the latter being a little more loose with the original in its wording.


Bukas Palad anniversary concert

Start:      Aug 25, ‘07 8:00p
End:      Aug 25, ‘07 11:00p
Location:      The Church of the Gesu

Liturgical music among Catholics in the Philippines has been largely defined by what has been produced by Jesuits, and this group has been instrumental in promoting the Jesuits’ work around these parts.
They are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year with the release of a new album.

You think Roman Catholics are the only ones with a Latin liturgy?

When the Book of Common Prayer was first promulgated in 1549, it was agreed that, following the principle that the service would be in a language understood to the people, a Latin version would be commissioned for use in those places where it was so understood, namely the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and quite a few prep schools, including Eton.

Roderick Thompson, an Episcopal priest in San Francisco, must have been a very wise and prescient man to try making a Latin version of the 1979 American BCP, which, with a few bits tacked on, is just the same as (sorry, Fr. Tom) the hastily cobbled together Philippine BCP 2001. (In fact, their failure to keep up-to-date with some of the necessary changes made to the American calendar through the Lesser Feasts and Fasts volumes, including the addition of our holy father Ignatius of Loyola, is inexcusable. They honor Francis Xavier, a fellow First Companion, but not the man with the vision? Absurd!)

So I think, if it can be understood by those who have a working knowledge of Latin around these parts, we can use this instead.

Here is a sample prayer (bonus points for anyone who can guess what this is):

Omnipotens Deus, cui omne cor patet, et omnis voluntas loquitur, et quem nullum latet secretum: Purifica per infusionem Sancti Spiritus cogitationes cordis nostri, ut te perfecte diligere, et sanctum Nomen tuum digne laudare mereamur; per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Two lyrics from 31 Songs

Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs first came to my attention because Palanca prize-winning author Exie Abola wrote a review of it for one of the writing workshops I attended back in UP. Finally, all this week, I was able to hear excerpts from this book on BBC 7, which I’ve browsed on those rare occasions when a local bookseller managed to stock it.

Anyway, it was good to hear some of the tunes about which he wrote, and here are the lyrics to two of them. They both sound good, and, well… they are about heartbreak. Exie commented to me that this sort of thing is the stuff a lot of musicians write about, so I trust his wisdom on such matters.

Smoke, by Ben Folds Five

Leaf by leaf, page by page
Throw this book away
All the sadness, all the rage
Throw this book away
Rip out the binding, tear the glue
All of the grief we never even knew
We had it all along
Now it’s smoke

The things we’ve written in it
Never really happened
All the things we’ve written in it
Never really happened
All of the people come and gone
Never really lived
All the people come have gone
No one to forgive – smoke

We will never write a new one
There will not be a new one
Another one, another one

Here’s an evening dark with shame
Throw it on the fire
Here’s the time I took the blame
Throw it on the fire
Here’s the view we didn’t speak
It seemed for years and years
Here’s a secret
No one will ever know the reasons for the tears
They are smoke

Where do all the secrets live
They travel in the air
You can smell them when they burn
They travel in the air
Those who say the past is not dead
Stop and smell the smoke
You keep on saying the past is not dead
Come and smell the smoke
You keep saying the past is not even past
You keep saying …
We are smoke … smoke … smoke

music and lyrics by Ben Folds and Anna Goodman

“You Had Time”

how can I go home
with nothing to say
I know you’re going to look at me that way
and say what did you do out there
and what did you decide
you said you needed time
and you had time

you are a china shop
and I am a bull
you are really good food
and I am full
I guess everything is timing
I guess everything’s been said
so I am coming home with an empty head

you’ll say did they love you or what
I’ll say they love what I do
the only one who really loves me is you
and you’ll say girl did you kick some butt
and I’ll say I don’t really remember
but my fingers are sore
and my voice is too

you’ll say it’s really good to see you
you’ll say I missed you horribly
you’ll say let me carry that
give that to me
and you will take the heavy stuff
and you will drive the car
and I’ll look out the window making jokes
about the way things are

how can I go home
with nothing to say
I know you’re going to look at me that way
and say what did you do out there
and what did you decide
you said you needed time
and you had time

music and lyrics by Ani DiFranco 

Bastille Day

Start:      Jul 14, ‘07
Location:      France and the Francophone/Francophile world

French revolutionaries stormed a prison, symbolically marking the end of tyranny, but of course walked into another kind.
Yet this is a day to be remembered, especially since the revolutionary ideals of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” have yet to be truly realized, even in France.

Word for the day

Democradura – political tendency involving a dictatorial style of government in a nominally democratic state. Introduced by Edicio de la Torre at the Karunungan Festival, 7 July 2007. Usage: "The government of the first Republic of Korea… was a democradura." – Dr. In-Suk Cha, UNESCO Professor at Seoul National University