BEHIND THE LINES: Fly high! PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 02 December 2011 15:06

BY BOB JALDON

Three days of music, fellowship, remembrances and revelry. That’s going to start today at the campus of Ateneo de Zamboanga University as the Blue Eagles return to their mighty nest for their annual homecoming celebration — loaded with food and drinks in Mardi Gras fashion. Ateneans do this every year in time for the observance of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This year, we honor the jubilarians of High School classes 1961 (Golden), 1971 (Ruby) and 1986 (Silver). We also exalt the honorees of the various batches and their former living teachers. Traffic will be bad tomorrow as the students, alumni and alumnae revel in the streets during the torch parade that coincides with a parade of city government employees sounding off the start of the Christmas festival, also an annual undertaking.

I belong to H.S. class ‘69, obviously the best – actually. We have lawyers, doctors, accountants and successful businessmen in our class, just like the other batches. The saddest part is that we didn’t produce enough number of priests to replace the retirees and those who have passed away. Out of the hundreds that Ateneo has graduated, we probably only had six students who were ordained as Jesuit priests. Most of us chose the harder life – marriage. But the Ateneo Alumni Association (AAA) has been hyper active ever since that hundreds come home every year – from North America, South America, parts of Asia, Manila, Cebu, Davao and elsewhere, including Alaska.

But I’d like to anchor today’s piece on a noble project that the AAA can undertake, Expensive, but very blue-blooded, you may say. Years ago, we established the college of medicine at the Ateneo, thanks to its former president, Fr. William Kreutz. So far, we have graduated good, quality students who eventually became doctors. If our battle cry is “men for others,” the AAA can endeavor on building a 100-bed hospital that can cater to Ateneans in need, their families and the community at large. We have more than enough alumni and alumnae who can share part of their wealth to build a hospital and name it after the founder of the medical school. This is not to say, though, that the AAA should set aside its scholarship program and put all its resources to building a hospital.

There’s one alumnus – he hails from Tuguegarao, Cagayan – who can spearhead this selfless, awe-inspiring project, LOPE IRINGAN. He and five other “Ibanags” migrated to Zamboanga in the early 60s when Ateneo de Tuguegarao temporarily closed. He earned his college degree at AdeZ, fell in love and married his classmate, Rose Infante. He knows the medical business, having transformed his Medika Integrated Industries, Inc. from a small office to a giant medical supply firm. If he runs (and I pray that he will) for the AAA board and wins, he should be elected president of the association. That’s the first step.

Lope has obliging, influential and rich friends from the east, south and west. If local doctors can bunch together to build a hospital (Ciudad Medical), more so can well to-do Ateneans and their friends. The time to act is now, not only for the Ateneo community, but also for the entire city. This project will give real meaning to what Ateneans cheer for. The first donor can be the president of the Philippines, an Atenean.

Hail, Lope! Fly high, Ateneans.