For this year, the Ateneo Student Exposure Program (ASEP) of the Arrupe Office of Social Formation, lodged under the Student Servant Leadership Program (SSLP), will conduct the summer exposure/immersion in Brgy. Ngan, in the Municipality of Compostela, Province of Compostela Valley (ComVal).  ComVal is the obvious choice for this year’s ASEP in view of the university’s current engagement in Ngan: The Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU), through the Arrupe Office, and with the endorsement of the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC), has just finished the construction of a school building in Consuelo M. Valderrama High School.  Named “Malasmas Building” in honor of the late Fr. Rodolfo “Rudy” Malasmas, SJ, this new building was inaugurated on Saturday, 8th March 2014.  The community partnership forged between ADDU and Ngan through this infrastructure project has become a major factor in crafting this year’s ASEP design that is fitted for a disaster-stricken area.

Compostela and Jesuit Connection

         Barangay Ngan, as in the rest of ComVal and Davao Oriental (DavOr), suffered from the devastation of Typhoon Pablo in December of 2012.  In this period of rehabilitation some fifteen (15) months after the disaster struck, the community, especially the members of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of Valderrama High knocked the doors of various donor agencies, requesting that their school be rehabilitated.  It is only ADDU that responded to such request, and within the period of sixty (60) days a new building was erected.  The decision to rebuild a part of school through the construction of a high school building in Valderrama High is not just a concrete manifestation of goodwill and commitment to respond to disaster, but a very symbolic gesture considering that the high school used to be called Ateneo de Davao Compostela Branch in the early seventies when the late Fr. Rudy acted as its school administrator.  Another important fact that underlies the spirit behind this infrastructure project is that it concretely manifests ADDU’s Bicentenary Celebration of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus (1814-2014).  This infrastructure, therefore, symbolizes the very essence of the celebration of the Jesuits’ restoration as one of the Catholic Church’s remarkable religious orders whose apostolic mission in education can be felt in six continents.

Area Preparations

      Meanwhile, the Arrupe Team has done an initial legwork as early as February to prepare the area for the coming exposure/immersion which is set to begin on 31st March until 8th April.  Unlike the ASEP of previous years, the duration of the program for this summer is shorter in view of the rather late end of the semester, the final exam being scheduled in the last week of March. Preceding the actual exposure period on 1st April is an orientation seminar on the 31st March.  A post-exposure processing on 7th-8th April immediately follows the actual exposure/immersion phase.  Both are expected to take place in Manresa-by-the Sea (MBS) in Talomo.

Parent’s Consultation

          On 2nd March, a well-attended parent’s meeting was conducted by the Arrupe Office for the parents/guardians of student volunteers and leaders who have shown interest in joining this summer exposure program.  During the meeting, the administration of Arrupe presented to the parents the history, nature, design, and thrust of ASEP and how they all fit into the vision-mission of the university especially in the promotion of social formation.  The meeting ended in a very positive note, which resulted to around forty (40) prospective ASEPians (mainly coming from Arrupe Vols, batches 42 and 43) expressing commitment to join this summer’s exposure/immersion.  Prospective ASEPians are required by the Arrupe Office to submit a medical clearance and other requirements before making the final cut for this year’s summer immersees.

ASEPians Generations Apart

One interesting set of parents who attended the meeting was Mr. Edwin & Atty. Tessie M. Marañon, former chair and prime-mover in the creation of the Computer Studies Division (now a cluster with three departments) and now connected with a software company, and former city councilor of the Third District of Davao, respectively.  Both were former ASEPians themselves, Batch 6 (1982) and Batch 8 (1983), respectively.  Both also joined the Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP) in separate years following college graduation.  Incidentally, their son and prospective ASEPian, Lawrence (BS-IE 2), belongs to the corps of Arrupe Vols, Batch 43.

ASEP as Service-Learning

           ASEP is an institutional exposure program for the corps of student volunteers of the then Social Involvement Coordinating Office (SICO) called the SICO Vols, now renamed the Arrupe Vols, the origin of which can be traced all the way back to 1978. As a summer exposure program, student volunteers who signed up and are qualified to undergo a two-week exposure/immersion in identified communities are expected to live with their respective foster families, at the same time create and implement community service toward the end of exposure period. 

In more ways than one, this year’s ASEP is similar to last year’s in Baganga in DavOr because not only is it considered a “structured” exposure, it also chooses an area that nevertheless suffered from Typhoon Pablo a little more than a year ago.  And just like last year’s, the program also extends invitation to student volunteers and leaders other than the Arrupe Vols themselves, such as volunteers from the National Service Training Program (NSTP), and leaders from the Samahan Central Board and other socio-civic clubs.

Now in its penultimate phase of area preparation for the new batch of ASEPians, Mr. Noriel Rogon, coordinator of SSLP, and Mr. Karl Anthony Ebol, Arrupe Office’s Community Engagement Officer (CEO) did another round of community consultation in Ngan on 7th March, including the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between ADDU and the major partner in this year’s ASEP, the PTA of Valderrama High.  Consequently, this partnership is the result of the relationship being forged in view of the construction of the new high school building.  Toward this end, the prospective ASEPians are then expected to conduct an activity/service among high school students of Valderrama High at the end of the exposure/immersion period.  (By M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications & Advocacy)