Closing Remarks on the
occasion of the 2007 Ateneo Awards
Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.
9 December 2007
for the citation, and here for more info
about the award.
Manlupig and Sylvia Paraguya receive the award from Fr. Tony
Moreno, Archbishop Valles and Atty. Arsenio Gonzales.
Most Reverend Romulo Valles,
Archbishop of Zamboanga, the Honorable Celso Lobregat, Mayor of
Zamboanga City, the Honorable Maria Isabelle Climaco, First District
Congresswoman, Atty. Arsenio Gonzalez, Jr., Chair of the Board of
Trustees of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Fr. William H.
Kreutz, S.J., former President of the Ateneo, our 2007 awardees:
Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc., represented by its President and
Founder, Mr. Charlito Manlupig and Ms. Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya,
Chair of its Board, and Sisters of the Discalced Carmelite Order in
Zamboanga represented by Sr. Delia and Sr. Gloria, Trustees of the
Ateneo, members of the Ateneo and Jesuit communities, distinguished
guests, alumni ladies and gentlemen ug hilabina gayod ang 42 ka mga
bisita nga gikan pa sa Misamis Oriental nga kauban sa Balay
Mindanaw, buenas tardes y bienvenidos a todos, maayong hapon,
assalamu alaikum warah matulahi wabarakatu.
I thank you all for taking
time off to be here for this occasion. I thank especially our bien
amable Archbishop Romulo Valles for presiding over and preaching the
Mass we celebrated earlier. To our awardees, I thank especially
Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. and the Carmelite Sisters for
graciously accepting the recognition and appreciation we have given
them this afternoon. Awards like this make a statement about who we
are, what we aspire, what values we hold dear, and what we set out
to do. The Ateneo is committed to the promotion of faith that seeks
to dialogue and peace that is founded on development in Western
Mindanao and the island Povinces of Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.
to the Awards Program, Holy Mass was concelebrated by Most
Rev. Romulo G. Valles, DD Archbishop of Zamboanga, Fr. Antonio
F. Moreno SJ, Fr. William H. Kreutz SJ, and three other
If there’s anything that
binds our Ateneo awardees this year, it is their low-key profile and
their work of development, whether it be personal or communitarian,
spiritual or social, private or public, for our people in Mindanao.
Balay Mindanaw is not concerned of the publicity of its achievements
more than its work through skillful peace negotiation, peace
education, and community-based development work. Balay Mindanaw is
not known to work for peace to earn “pogi” points from
donors, government, private sector, and even from the people who
partner with its labors. I am very pleased to let you know that a
contingent of 42, mostly from Misamis Oriental, has travelled by bus
all the way from Cagayan de Oro City last night to witness and
celebrate the conferral of awards. They have been partners with
Balay Mindanaw for years now. They, like Balay Mindanaw, do not seek
the limelight. Balay Mindanaw has shown us that there can be no real
peace unless people feel at home in their own land; there can be no
true peace without justice and reconciliation. Its aspirations are
simple: make Mindanao truly a home, a balay of citizens, not
simply of denizens – and this is a new name of peace.
and representatives of community partners of Balay Mindanaw
travelled all the way from Misamis Oriental to witness the
The Carmelite Sisters
likewise are not known to serve and get something in return. When
Carmelite Saint Therese of Liseux was on the threshold of death, the
sisters thought about her obituary. Then as they were thinking about
it, a sister remarked: “What shall we write about her, she is so
simple.” The life of the Carmelite Sisters here in Zamboanga is
indeed so simple. They live a quiet life, almost in obscurity. When
asked to make a write-up of their life here in view of these awards
ceremonies, they cannot and would not write anything about
themselves – their humble achievements and noble contributions to
our people here. They offer prayers even if people are not aware of
their prayers. The convent of the Carmelite Sisters for over 50
years now has been a haven of spiritual renewal and inspirattion.
They may have limited contact with the outside world but they are
truly engaged in our Christian community through their prayers and
life of witnessing to Gospel values. At times, I have the feeling
that they are the first ones to know about the burning concerns in
our place here (even ahead of the Archbishop and the Jesuits!).
People seek counsel and paryers from the Carmelite Sisters.
In sum, the awards we have
just given are tightly connected with each other. Genuine
development involves peace and faith. One cannot promote genuine
peace without taking on board the faiths of our people. In the same
way, faith is empty in our context if there is no struggle for
peace. So there you are, for peace and faith, we take a bow to Balay
Mindanaw and to the Carmelite Sisters. You inspire the Ateneo
community with your heroic lives lived simply and without fireworks
and funfare. You empower us with your lives of faithful service
carried out with leat public attention. May God continue to bless
you with good things and plenty.