Fr. Jett takes Vancouver by storm

October 30, 2012
By Gino Echavez, AAABC Board Director

The cold weather did nothing to dampen the Atenean spirit as members of the Ateneo Alumni Association of BC (AAABC)  came out in force to give visiting Ateneo de Manila University President Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin (or Fr. Jett) and Director for Alumni Affairs Jun Dalandan a warm reception. The reception began the evening of the Oct 21st with some AAABC representatives welcoming the Ateneo executives at the airport to take him to the Holiday Inn Vancouver Airport, Richmond.  It would continue the following day with a lunch and a visit to the Richmond Olympic Oval for some sightseeing.

At 4:30 PM Fr.Jett was brought to St. Paul's Church, Richmond to say an intimate mass with the members of the AAABC. He gave an inspired sermon and touched upon the subject of compassion for others in his homily reminding the Ateneans present that many Filipinos still experience poverty and that it is their duty as men and women for others to always be mindful of the less fortunate. On a more optimistic note, Fr. Jett ended by saying that he believed that the coming times are promising and that progress was on the horizon for the Philippines.

















After the mass, a dinner was held in Casa Pinoy Restaurant for all the visiting guests. In addition to President Fr. Jett and Director Jun, the AAABC had the honor of having Philippine Consul General in Vancouver Jose Ampeso, Consul Atty. Anton Mandap, and the Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, the Honourable John Yap. Filling the restaurant to capacity, everyone had a great time enjoying good food, company, and conversation. Once dinner was dealt with and everyone in attendance had a chance to settle, AAABC President Mike Calingo formally introduced Fr. Jett.  Among some of the topics covered were the recent withdrawal of Manny V. Pangilinan's support for the Ateneo, the stand of some faculty members regarding the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, and the discussion of some of Fr. Jett's future plans for improving not only the infrastructure of the Ateneo, but also its learning environment, by utilizing new and specialized facilities.  Fr. Jett also touched on the departure of Coach Norman Black and that a new coach shall be known soon for the Ateneo Blue Eagles whose historic "Five-Peat" UAAP basketball championship run was a main topic of talk across tables.
Another important subject that was brought to attention was the matter of Canadian accreditation of foreign academic degrees. At this point, Minister Yap took the floor beginning with reassurances that it was one of several high priority issues he sought to address during his tenure. He demonstrated that he was well aware of the issue and the challenges it presented and stressed that he is planning to enter into dialogue with regulators to address the matter. It was heartening to witness that after the brief and informal conference, Fr. Jett conversed with Minster Yap and had even expressed his interest in touring Canadian universities.  One could only hope that this is a sign of future academic cooperation and collaboration between the Ateneo and the Canadian educational institutions. 

















The dinner affair was concluded with a photo session seeing members of the AAABC requesting pictures with the guests. At one point a rousing chorus of the traditional Ateneo Marching Song Blue Eagle The King was begun and provided the perfect accent for the atmosphere of Atenean camaraderie.  Next day, Fr. Jett and Jun were invited to hear mass at Corpus Christi and to tour the UBC Campus.  They were brought to Stanley Park, Gastown, Canada Place, etc. before proceeding back to Richmond to prepare for their departure the next day.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of the AAABC members and the coordination of the board directors responsible for the event, the celebration of Fr. Jett's visit became a special occasion to remember, a warm and comforting reminder of the alma mater for the AAABC.