ASEACCU-04575401579955708 ASEACCU-96565401578a9feb8-1024x680ASEACCU-3937540157862ad08-1024x680The Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) played host to the 22nd Association of Southeast & East Asian Catholic Colleges & Universities (ASEACCU) Conference on 27th-30th August 2014.  Bearing the theme “Catholic Higher Education for Social Justice,” the ASEACCU Conference was divided into two separate programs, one for faculty and one for students, each happening simultaneously in two separate venues: Finster Auditorium of ADDU for the faculty, as well as Eden Nature Park, the Waterfront Hotel, the Pamulaan Center in Mintal, and the Kalagan Community in Mandug, for the students. Both conferences converged at Finster Auditorium on the last day for the farewell dinner.

 The ASEACCU, as quoted from its constitution and by-laws, is a regional association of Catholic universities in countries within the geographical location of Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania, which purpose is to “promote Catholic higher education” as well as to provide “support for the local churches.” Overall, it intends to “contribute to educational dialogue on an international level and beyond” its geographical boundaries. Currently, it has thirty-seven (37) member schools/institutions spread in seven (7) countries. ADDU counts itself as a member of ASEACCU.

 Conversation-Style, with Community Visits

 This year’s ASEACCU Conference was organized by the Office of the President, in coordination with key offices in the university that assisted in the planning and preparation as early as June of 2014. As the conference’s Secretariat, the staff of the Office of the President spearheaded the planning for the programs of both faculty and student conferences.  In particular, it tapped the assistance of the Arrupe Office of Social Formation and the SAMAHAN Central Board in primarily crafting the overall program for the student participants, with the special support of Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia.

 The confab used the dialogue-style format in all of its discussion sessions, inspired by previous gatherings aptly labelled Conversations (re Jesuits in Mindanao in December 2013, Peacebuilding in Mindanao in April 2014, among others) which the university (through the Office of the President) has started and hosted on several occasions. Likewise, two community visits formed part of the program for the student conference: One at the Pamulaan Indigenous People’s Center in Mintal, and the other at Al Qalam’s partner community, the Kalagan, in Mandug. These two visits provided the venues for the student participants to engage in interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

 Two Cardinals in Attendance

 The conference was graced by no less than Their Eminences, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, DD, of the Archdiocese of Manila, who gave the formal opening address for the faculty participants on the second day, and Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI, DD, of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, who gave an address to the same audience on the last day.

 As ADDU president and host of the conference, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ delivered the keynote address to the student participants at Eden Nature Park on the second day.

 The president of the ASEACCU himself, Fr. Michael Calmano, SVD, was on hand during the conference, gracing the opening ceremonies of both the faculty and student conferences, respectively.

 The above personages were joined by an interesting motley of discussants, both local and international, who participated in several scheduled conversation sessions intended for both faculty and student participants.

 Talking Points

Taking off from the theme on Social Justice, the following topics formed part of the discussion sessions which took on the format of conversations (as in a round-table-discussion [RTD]):  For the faculty, the conversation sessions were divided into “The Inclusion of the Poor in Society,” “The Search for the Common Good,” and “The Role of the Catholic HEI in Social Dialogue;” for the students, the topics discussed were “Peace and Development Framework for Mindanao: Mindanao 2020 and the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro,” and “Dialogue: A Pathway to Peace: Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.” After these respective discussions, the faculty participated in a workshop on Social Justice education, while the students were engaged in processing/reflection session as per their overall experience of the conference, including the conduct of the two community visits. A select group of faculty/personnel, as well as a corps of student volunteers and student leaders of the Arrupe Office and the SAMAHAN Central Board, were tapped to moderate and document these separate conversation sessions for faculty and student participants.

Student Attendance

Participants coming from the student sector totalled seventy-one (71), an overwhelming number when compared to student participation in previous ASEACCU conferences. As the host university, ADDU was represented by six (6) student delegates coming from a phalanx of Arrupe volunteers and members of the SAMAHAN Central Board, namely: Rexor Amancio, Reevens Rizada, Johnmar Monato, Kahlil Denise Alcomendras, Sarah Joy Reyes and Michael Leyson.

All in all, the seventy-one (71) student delegates represented a total of twenty-eight (28) Catholic colleges and universities in Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania, coming from six (6) countries, to wit: From the Philippines—Angeles University Foundation (with 2 delegates), Ateneo de Davao University (6), Ateneo de Naga University (4), De La Salle University (2), St. Paul University – Manila (4), St. Paul University – Quezon (4), University of Negros Occidental Recoletos (2), University of San Carlos – Cebu (3), University of Santo Tomas (5), Xavier University (5), and Miriam College (1); from Korea—Catholic University of Korea (with 2 delegates), The Catholic University of Pusan (5), and Sogang University (2); from Japan—Elisabeth University of Music (with 2 delegates), Fuji Women’s University (2), Notre Dame University of Kyoto (1), Sophia University (2), University of Sacred Heart-Tokyo (2), Seisen University (2), and Shirayuri College (1); from Taiwan—Fu Jen Catholic University (with 2 delegates), Providence University (2), and Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages (2); from Indonesia—Parahyangan Catholic University (with 1 delegate), Soegijapranata Catholic University (2), and Universitas Atma Jaya Yogyakarta (1); and finally,  from Australia—University of Notre Dame Australia (with 2 delegates).

Animated Cultural Entertainment

Providing live entertainment for these two separate programs was no less than Davao’s own Kaliwat Theatre Collective composed of a motley of local musicians, entertainers and artists whose livewire cultural repertoire of indigenous music, dancing and choral singing ignited sparks both during the conference’s opening and closing ceremonies. (by M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications & Advocacy)