Xavier Ateneo’s 84ᵗʰ Commencement awardees call on graduates to affect change
Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan President Fr Mars P Tan, SJ led the conferment of awards during the Convocation on July 6, 2023 at the XU Gymnasium. The awarding, which came after the Baccalaureate Mass, recognized individuals and institutions that have contributed to the welfare, development, and progress of communities, the Mindanao region, and the Philippines. The following were honored in the 84th Commencement of Xavier Ateneo:
The Order of Augustinian Recollects received the Archbishop Santiago T.G Hayes, SJ Award for its service to Christian and indigenous communities as formator and missionary. The OAR was a pioneer in the evangelization of Mindanao in the 16th century and a partner of the Jesuit missionaries during those years. Conflicted on territories to cover in their missionary work, both religious groups settled the argument with an imaginary line drawn diagonally across Mindanao – the northeastern parts were given to the Recollects and the southwestern parts to the Jesuits. But when the Jesuits were expelled in the 17th century, the Recollects took over the evangelization of the entire Mindanao with the help of some diocesan clergy. Though missionary work at that time was not only exhausting but also dangerous, the missionaries prevailed and continued to spread the word of God.
Fray Bernard C Amparado, OAR, the Prior Provincial of the Order, expressed appreciation to be honored by the Jesuits with the award saying the Order aims to be good apostles of the Lord, “to grow where we are planted.” Though they do not aspire any recognition, Fray Bernard acknowledged that it is also “good to know that we have touched lives along the way.” He attributes their achievements to “the greater glory of God.”
The First Community Cooperative (FICCO) accepted the Fr William Masterson, SJ Award for its service to the mission to uplift the socio-economic life of the communities not only in Mindanao but of the entire country. FICCO started as a small cooperative of 17 members and after 69 years, has grown to become a large cooperative with 400,000 members in Mindanao. It has its roots at XU having been founded by Fr William Masterson, SJ with the help of some XU alumni. Because of the determination and commitment of the leaders and members, it has successfully pursued its mandate to improve the quality of life of its members.
In behalf of the cooperative, Mr Isagani B Daba, FICCO Consultant, congratulated the graduates and their parents and encouraged them to “embark on a journey similar to what FICCO is doing” and share the dream of Fr Masterson “to right the wrongs he has witnessed, to lead the fight against formidable enemies, to reach that unreachable star.”
Prof Rudy Buhay Rodil was given the Fr Francisco Demetrio Award in recognition of the inspiration he has shown in his lifelong work as a historian and advocate of peace among the indigenous peoples and the Moro community. He devoted his life and scholarship to Mindanao’s history and culture and promoting peace in the region. He advanced his advocacies on:1) correcting the wrong interpretations about Mindanao history, 2) healing, and transforming relationships among Mindanaoans, and 3) establishing the right to self-determination within their ancestral domain and use of their local language in history writing.
Prof Rodil shared his award with those who taught him including the Jesuits who contributed greatly to his life, “dako ang gibuhat sa akong kinabuhi as historian.” He emphasized the need to learn and love the Bisaya language and asked the graduates to be ready to switch to our language when needed. He professes to continue his work but encouraged the graduates to create a new cycle in Mindanao, “kamo napud, inyong generation.”
Dr Michael P Atrigenio was named as the esteemed Speaker of the 84th Commencement Exercises because of his exemplary accomplishments in the conservation and protection of marine life, his commitment to helping the communities and the country, and for being a worthy inspiration to all who embody the Xavier Ateneo brand of global excellence.
Dr Atrigenio congratulated the graduates on their successful college journey. He pointed out that they are fortunate to have a Jesuit education for it will open a multitude of opportunities and asked that this education be used to “make ethical and responsible decisions, to be men and women for others, and lead by example.”
He also thanked XU for the privilege of being chosen as the Commencement speaker as he considers it a “true testament to the countless hours of hard work and dedication that I have invested in my craft, and more importantly, it is a humbling opportunity to serve as an inspiration to others.”
With this, he inspired the graduates to discover their passion, pursue their careers, and make positive impact on society. He said that working hard not only for the self but for others will have its rewards which will “come as you strive to make a difference.”
Kien Marvin P Cabudoy was the recipient of the Faber Award for embodying the Jesuit ideals and Ignatian values as reflected in his active leadership in a student-oriented organization and service to the community. Kien is a Major in Social Studies and Magna Cum Laude of the School of Education. He is grateful to his grandparents who inspired him to serve the Church and the community and encouraged him “to do good things to others. He wishes to continue his work and his readiness to help the community, “I believe we just need to find our purpose.”
Mikko Anton G. Dagoc was chosen as the Class Valedictorian. Mikko is a Cum Laude of BS Electronics Engineering and is the Outstanding Graduate of the College of Engineering. The graduates and all present resonated with Mikko’s moving speech. Mikko recalled the challenges they encountered in their academic and extra-curricular life in XU and the struggles they had to face amid the covid pandemic. He was also emotional as he talked about his personal life and the hardships he had to overcome. Most importantly, Mikko said that in these hard situations, there are significant people who understand and wholeheartedly give their guidance, help, and support, and most importantly there is a God “whose love guided us through every step of the journey. There will be times when we feel tired and ready to give up, but one thing remains certain: God never fails.”
He applauded his class for making it to the finish line of their college years despite all the difficulties saying “hardships often lead to the greatest breakthroughs of our lives. After everything we have been through, let’s be proud of reaching this point. Let’s be proud knowing that we are the Gamechangers of our generation.”
He ended his speech by inspiring the graduates to create positive change in the world. “Remember, true success is not about the positions we hold, but the character we build in the face of challenges. With gratitude in our hearts and determination in our souls, Let’s march forward, embodying our Ignatian values, with resilience, adaptability, and responsiveness.”
The ceremony closed with a message to the graduates from Fr Mars. He enjoined the graduates to use their Jesuit education to spread the good and serve the community. “What we want you to do is to use your education, position, and abilities to actively love and serve others, alleviate hunger, reduce poverty, educate children, care for creation, defend the weak, create opportunities, give hope, and offer reconciliation and friendship.”
Fr Mars pointed out the reasons XU honored the commencement awardees, Prof Rudy Buhay, the Order of Augustinian Recollects, the First Community Cooperative, and Dr Mike Atrigenio, and urged the graduates to emulate their “exemplary lives and works for God and His people.” He said he hopes that “this year’s batch of graduates will seriously consider pursuing the same dream they dreamed of and trudging the same less-traveled road they take.”
Fr Mars congratulated the graduates and their parents and offered his gratitude to the awardees for accepting the Xavier University Awards, and for “witnessing the values of love and service which Xavier Ateneo wants its graduates to have and to live by. We thank them for doing great service to the cause of humanity for God’s greater glory.”