The core object of the University’s social involvement is the pursuit of the University’s Mission of service to the community, especially the poor. However, fully cognizant of the fact that the University does not have the capability to respond to each and every development need of its partner communities, the social involvement of the University shall focus on the following priority areas of concern:
It is a widely acknowledged fact that poor health and nutritional status is an impediment to human development. Among the many detrimental consequences of poor health and malnutrition — particularly in the early stages of life — are stunted physical growth, a reduced capacity for learning, higher susceptibility to illness and disease resulting in higher mortality rates, an impaired psychological and emotional ability to cope. In the face of this, it is imperative that any community development initiative must include a program that can effectively address the health and nutrition needs of its population.
Any sustainable health and nutrition strategy for development must include provision of accurate and complete information on basic health and nutrition, especially among the poor, and facilitation of their access to existing health services in the community; capacity-building for LGUs as implementers of public health programs; and tapping into and mobilizing resources and capabilities of the private sector.
In the Philippines, despite both government and private efforts, many children still die from poor health, hunger and malnutrition-related diseases. In the Bicol region, the second poorest region of the country, poor health, hunger and malnutrition, particularly among children, demand serious and sustained attention.
In the face of widespread ignorance and indifference to the dramatic global climate changes wrought by the wanton human devastation of the environment, the defense of the environment is high on the list of the University’s priority concerns. The protection of the environment transcends both borders and timeframes, ensuring the survival not only of this generation of Filipinos but also of the generations of all peoples to come throughout this planet. As a University in the World, the Ateneo de Naga’s unequivocal stand to protect and defend the environment has made it imperative to draw upon its capabilities, mobilize its network of communities in the Bicol region, and throw the full weight of its resources in the pursuit and advancement of actions and measures to conserve natural resources and protect the environment.
The University’s involvement in the issue of governance proceeds from the assumption that active citizenship is key both to substantiating democracy and improving the lives of the electorate who, in principle, hold the power in that system. Thus, the USIC integrates the efforts and initiatives of the different colleges, offices, and institutes and focuses the same towards enabling the masses to (1) effectively hold public officials accountable for their actions and campaign promises; (2) make government administration responsive and effective both in cost and result, measurable in the very short-, the short- and the medium-terms; (3) combat and extirpate corruption, and (4) live and act in the challenge that in their own hands lie their destiny as well as the fate of their community and nation.
As University in the World, the University has manifested its “Christ-centered”… “commitment to change.” “Through its study and research, xxx it learns of the actual effects of Christianity in the lives of people who struggle with weakness, temptation and sin. It learns of people for whom Christianity is but an empty name; but it also learns of others for whom Christianity leads to genuine reconciliation with the Father, to heroic discipleship of Jesus Christ, and to exemplary service of people through Church in the Holy Spirit.” Guided by these declarations, and inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the fervor of St. Francis Xavier, the proclamation and teaching of the Faith that does justice is essential to the University Mission.
In the Bicol region, being one of the poorest regions of the country, any effort towards community empowerment must necessarily address the need for economic empowerment. To a major extent, political empowerment and the power to chart and pursue one’s destiny stem from the economic influence that the individual can wield. Thus, among the flagship programs of the Ateneo de Naga is the development of capabilities for livelihood and entrepreneurship. To strengthen impact in accordance with the Mission Statement of the Ateneo de Naga University, the College of Business and Accountancy “encourages and prepares its students to become entrepreneurs and to serve business organizations and societies with competence, compassion and conscience”. Through the USIC, the University shall extend the programs of the College of Business and Accountancy and undertake, together with its partner communities, programs and initiatives that will build upon the economic capabilities and realize the economic potentials of its partner communities within the context of equitable and sustainable development.
Essential to quality education are competent and dedicated teachers, both for formal teaching in established schools as well as for non-formal teaching in local communities. Professional teachers must be helped to improve their teaching skills; informal teachers must be helped to better deliver skills of catechism, reading, writing, practical calculation, health care, and the fundamentals of civic and political involvement. Beyond helping teachers, the University must contribute to an environment of sound educational policy through such as the Bikol Association for Catholic Schools (BACS), the Bikol Foundation for Higher Education (BFHE), the Coordinating Council for Private Education Association in Bikol (COCOPEA-Bikol), and similar organizations.
Disaster Response Management
Human society’s ability to respond to such disasters as typhoons, landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami, etc. in Bikol – with their mass destruction of human lives and property depends essentially on the preparedness of some to respond to the needs of others during a calamity. Ateneo de Naga University is not only prepared to respond to others on short notice, but also contributes to general disaster preparedness through participation in the development and dissemination of risk-mapping, psychological crisis management and intervention, or formation/identification of social support systems.
The urgency of the imperative to assist in effectively providing access to decent shelter, particularly by the poor and underprivileged, cannot be overemphasized. The wave of initiatives, both public and private, programs and policies, in response to this imperative is indeed inspiring. Despite these initiatives, however, the solution that is both sustained and effective remains to be elusive.
In the Bicol region, particularly due to its being prone to typhoons, an effective response to the housing needs of the people, particularly the poor, requires that its peculiar geographical and geophysical conditions be duly considered. On the other hand, sustainable response demands that any initiative must lead towards not just the building of houses but of homes, and not just of homes but of communities. Through the USIC, the University shall draw upon its capabilities and mobilize community resources to catalyze the formulation and implementation of such response.