The Office of Student Affairs organized the fifth run of Immersion of Student Leaders, or Danlugan on April 2 to 5, 2018 in various communities – indigenous peoples among them – in Camarines Sur and Naga City.
As a way to contextualize the students’ perspective of immersion, Dr. Roberto Conrado O. Guevara, Director of the Office of Student Formation at the Ateneo de Manila University, gave an inspirational talk before the send-off. He urged the students to learn from the poor, take on the struggles of the poor as their own, and see the liberation of the poor as their own liberation as well.
After Dr. Guevara’s talk, 54 representatives of college student organizations in Ateneo de Naga University (ADNU) were brought to 13 host community leaders who work for the poor and marginalized communities. The students stayed with the community leaders for three nights, learned about their work and advocacies, leadership styles and values, struggles and dreams.
The host communities/organizations/leaders in Camarines Sur were: tribal resettlement areas in Caranday (Baao), Sta. Teresita and La Anunsacion (Iriga City); Damayan nin Paraoma sa Camarines Sur (DAMPA), La Huerta/Barn School (Baao), Gawad Kalinga – Libmanan, and Baao Multipurpose Cooperative. In Naga City, the following were the hosts: Fazenda de Esperanca, Karapatan: Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Sumaro sa Salog (Sulog), Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN), Bantay Familia, and St. Jude Thadeus Parish).
In the immersion, one group assigned in a tribal resettlement area trailed hills for hours just to fetch water, while another attended a court hearing of a political prisoner. A pair joined recovering drug addicts as they labor in the farm, while a group learned about the impact of the airport expansion on the life and future of farmers in the area. These and many other experiences were tackled in a formative processing session, which was facilitated by ADNU formator Juan Carlos S. De Los Reyes.
Following the processing session, the University President Fr. Roberto Exequiel N. Rivera, S.J. celebrated a thanksgiving mass with the students. In culmination, the students themselves organized fellowship activities and creative presentations.
Danlugan is the second part of the Ateneo Workshop on Ignatian Leadership for Life. The first part is the core leadership seminar-workshop held every summer. The two-part A-WILL is a major offering of OSA’s Ateneo Leadership Development Program.
The immersion activity hoped to deepen the students’ self-awareness as a person and leader vis-à-vis the social issues in the country, specifically in Camarines Sur/Bicol, and to allow students to witness and understand the joys, pains, successes and failures of leadership and service in the peripheries of the society. In the processing session, the students were challenged to echo the awareness and learning that they have gained from the immersion experience, and to come up with concrete and doable action plans through their organizations and even personal engagements.