In response to the call of the University President, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, to promote a vibrant atmosphere of academic discourses and conversations on relevant and pressing issues of the day, the Office of the President, headed by Mr. Romulo Vinci Bueza (Assistant to the President for External Affairs), in coordination with the Ateneo Leadership Center (ALC) headed by Ms. Lilibeth Leh-Arcena, organized the Conversation on the Common Good on 10th July 2013 at F-705A.

This program formed part of the academic exercise that served as the opening salvo in a series of conversations entitled “Pakighinabi.” Primarily organized by the Office of the President, the Pakighinabi is a series of monthly conversations among faculty, students, administrators, and other stakeholders in the university that provides a venue for informal discourses on specific topics. These conversations are intended to generate greater public interest among the members of the university community and are supposed to fuel continuing discussions on important topics in the advancement of knowledge and the promotion of a vibrant and discursive culture in the life of the university.

As the first in a series of conversations, the discussion on the common good was participated in by different sectors of the university community.  In attendance were the University President himself, Fr. Tabora, and the staff of the Office of the President; members of the ALC; personnel of the Arrupe Office of Social Formation; faculty and graduate students of the School of Business and Governance (SBG); faculty from Mass Communications, Philosophy and Theology departments of the Humanities and Letters Cluster of the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS); faculty and administrator of the Social Science Cluster of the SAS; students representing the SAMAHAN Central Board and other student organizations; and the personnel and staff of the Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, among others. 

The lead discussant and resource speaker was Dr. Renante Pilapil, the SAS Assistant Dean for Humanities and Letters Cluster, a member of the ALC, and editor of Tambara. Dr. Pilapil initiated the conversation by presenting the topic of his dissertation on social justice from a philosophical point of view.  His initial sharing on social justice later on paved the way for animated discussions from the floor on the principle of the common good as it is linked to controversial issues pertaining to mining, reproductive health (RH), poverty, rights of the indigenous peoples (IPs), role of religion in public life, obligations of the state toward greater society in general, actions taken by the institutional church on matters pertaining to sociopolitical issues, among other topics. Differing philosophical, theological and critical theories were also opened for discussion, further generating interesting opinions from other discussants.  Ms. Arcena, director of the ALC, acted as the program’s moderator.

Fr. Tabora closed the program by challenging those in attendance and the university community, as a whole, to continue the initiative in pushing for a wider discursive space in the university and to further the thrust of promoting greater public consciousness on relevant issues of the day. (by M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications & Advocacy, for the Office of the President)