The heavy burden of keeping our integrity PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 October 2012 14:07


The rather public “disengagement” in the past week  of Manuel V. Pangilinan from his alma mater , the Ateneo de Manila University , is good for us to reflect on.

When the relations between the generous benefactor and the university were friendly each one benefited from the relationship – ADMU was able to use the benefaction in pursuit of its objective of excellent education for those who came to enroll in the university; on  the other hand the benefactor set up an admired reputation for his generosity and that of the companies of which he was president. It was a good example of what we might call positive synergy.

But, as so often happens in life, we have to stand up for what we believe in. Mr. Pangilinan and the Ateneo (or, for one of the issues the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus to  be more accurate) found they were on opposing sides on two crucial national issues that the country is facing now. Should one or the other simply keep quiet to keep the peace?  No, that would not be a demonstration of integrity between what is believed in and the person of the believer.

Here we have to accept certain realities of life. MVP has the freedom to  choose who he should shower with his benefaction. And it is also a reality that a benefactor  will choose as  beneficiary that which reflects his own worldview. I have no quarrel with this; this is a fact of life. On the other hand ADMU is a university and in the classical concept of a university it has the role, nay, the duty, to lead others to the truth by developing critical thinking that will allow them to sift through information that will lead them to arrive at the truth for themselves.  On the issue of mining MVP, being the CEO of the biggest mining company in the country, supports the industry and what he calls responsible mining. The Philippine Jesuits, as priests and mentors, have to lead people to think about the pros and cons of mining and the impact mining can have on the lives of people  and the pursuit of the common good. It is the adherence to integrity by each of the parties that has led to this sad situation.

Is this a tragic falling out of former friends?  No, I see this as an excellent occasion for what we might call a learning moment, to understand the pain that is ours when we stand by what we believe in.

Early this month of October  candidates will be filing their candidacies for the positions in government that they have targeted. The next few months until  May 2013  will see the country engaged in what is generally referred to as Filipinos’ favorite engagement – an election.   In a very simple way many of us of who are not candidates but are simply voters  will have to reflect on what we stand for as citizens of this country.

Is family connection more important than the character of a candidate when I consider who I will vote for?  Should a sense of gratitude for past personal favors done to me by a candidate weigh in on me for  a candidate in spite of his poor performance in office or in spite of his unsavory character ? This will our personal confrontation with what we believe in.