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An apt message for these unsporting times

(Article published in the October 22, 2001 issue of TODAY, Business Section)

(I yield my space to a message I received from the Ateneo Alumni Affairs Office containing the memo to the university community from its president, Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J. It carries on the Ateneo’s tradition of transforming the temporal defeats of its children such as Bagumbayan and Tirad Pass into moments of spiritual celebration. One can easily see, even if one were a La Sallite, how the core message can be extrapolated into the current national situation to keep us all going into times we are not able to tame, against forces we did not ask to face)




 Last night after our heartbreaking loss in a hard-fought finals game, Fr. Tito Caluag and I said Mass for the team, the coaching staff and managers, families of the players, alumni and supporters at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center. The mood understandably was one of sadness and disappointment. As Mr. Manny Pangilinan said during the mass, we wanted to be with them not only in their moments of joy and victory, but in their moments as well of sadness and defeat.

Coach Joe Lipa and Team Captain Paul Tanchi expressed their pain that they failed to give us the championship they wanted so much to win for the Ateneo. All of us saw how hard they played and how much they played their hearts out. They really wanted to win this one for us. We took the time last night to pray with them in this time of sadness and disappointment.

But in the midst of this disappointment we must not overlook how much this memorable season has done to revive the Ateneo spirit and to bring us together as a community.

I thanked the team and the coaching staff and managers for a hard-fought season that truly energized us and, in the final game, had us on our feet from beginning to end. Coach Joe and Paul thanked all of us for our support during this season and in past seasons. In particular, they thanked Fr. Tito Caluag for his cura personalis for everyone on the team and on the staff. And Mr. Manny Pangilinan for his selfless and unstinting support for the team and the school. Let us then take time to strengthen our Ateneo spirit and our togetherness as a community. Let us take time to thank the team, the coaching staff and the managers. In particular, our thanks to Paul Tanchi and Rainier Sison, who played their last season and their last game for us. Our thanks to Coach Joe for a team that has grown immensely -- as players and as persons -- under his tutelage.

Thanks in great measure to Fr. Tito and Mr. Manny Pangilinan. To the administrators and staff of the Office of Planning and Development and Alumni Affairs. To Junjun Capistrano and the University Athletics Office and to our cheerleaders from the Grade School, High School and College. And the so many others who gave selflessly to make this a memorable season for all of us. May I suggest that we express this gratitude by stronger support for all our varsity teams this coming second semester and in the coming years.

Paul Tanchi spoke of how much he learned, of basketball, yes, but of character and life above all on the playing court. I told them that an article in last Sunday's Inquirer on Eton College, the school that has formed so many of England's leaders since 1440, reminded me of a quote: "England's wars were won first on the playing fields of Eton."

Winning college championship is important, but the ultimate championship is in character and leadership in life. I would like to thank Paul and the team not only for a memorable season, but for being truly role models to their fellow students and to their younger brothers in the grade school and high school. I have seen how amid great pressures they are truly striving to live up to our value of "Mens sana in corpore sano," of total formation, of commitment to excellence in sports yes, but commitment equally to excellence in academics and to a quest for growth in character and spirituality.

Mary, for you, for your white and blue.

We pray you’ll keep us Mary constantly true.

We pray you’ll keep us Mary faithful to you.