By Adrian Basas, and Rainier Sy
Ateneo Gabay held its first general assembly for academic year 2019-2020 last 15th of September at room 308 of Bellarmine Hall to reorient both its old and its new members to the “pagtataya” in its advocacy, pools, and projects. The assembly, which was supposed to be on the 13th, was moved to a later date due to the campus shutdown caused by consecutive earthquakes.
After a prayer led by Kailo Bigcas, Cid Gonzales discussed Gabay’s advocacy and shared his own understanding of it. For Gonzales, Gabay’s advocacy is a “kuwento ng pagtataya,” and a “kuwento ng pagmamahal” because it involves people who create and share stories together for a loving purpose that they are committed to. Gonzales believes that this purpose is providing opportunities for quality education to Atenean scholars, and public elementary school kids. “Naniniwala tayo [Ateneo Gabay] na deserve ng lahat ang quality education–na option sa kanila [Atenean scholars, and public elementary school kids] ang Ateneo–kaya tayo nagtataya.”
Following Cid’s explanations and insights on Gabay’s advocacy is guest speaker Joyce Donaire’s narration of her #whyteach story. Donaire is a former Gabayano who spoke in the general assembly on behalf of Teach for Philippines where she now works. Her #whyteach story revolves around her experiences with Michelle and Reymart: two of her tutees when she participated in Gabay’s Erya (Saturday) Tutoring Sessions.
Michelle is a visual learner who understands multiplication by drawing columns and rows of candy. At first, Donaire wondered why Michelle could not master multiplication by seven even if the latter verbally repeated the sequence of products for hours. Upon seeing Michelle’s drawings, however, it was clear to Donaire how Michelle should be tutored. “Siya (Michelle) mismo ang nagturo sa akin kung paano magturo sa kanya. Maraming Michelle na kailangan malaman kung gaano kagaling sila.” Donaire said.
Listening with the “ears of the heart” is vital, according to her. No one tutoring methods can be imposed on all tutees, for each tutee’s excellence is brought out through means often different from other tutees. “Yung pagtuturo, kailangan ng pakikinig.” Donaire said as she cherishes her insights on teaching, and more importantly the relationship she formed with Michelle. Gabay’s Erya (Saturday) Tutoring Sessions, for her, was a learning experience as much as it was a teaching one.
Reymart is a 16-year-old student in the fourth grade. Donaire noted that initially, Reymart did not open up to her. He slept in the classroom, and he could not read Filipino words. However, Reymart’s excitement was drawn when Donaire mentioned Naruto manga to him. It turns out he wanted to read Naruto manga. This was what Donaire calls their “common ground” that would allow her to motivate Reymart to learn reading. She was only able to find this common ground after persistent “kulit”, according to her. Reymart improved in reading until years after, he called Donaire and told her that he graduated from sixth grade, and that he could read Pilandok. Pilandok is a Filipino children’s book about a wise mouse-deer. The book had its share of deep Filipino words. Donaire was proud of Reymart for his graduation and for his progress in reading.
From her experiences, Donaire extracted three M’s to give advice to the attendees of the general assembly. To teach effectively and feel the “sarap ng pagtuturo,” a Gabayano must perform the following: “Makining, makibahagi, at magtulungan.”
Donaire’s co-worker from Teach for Philippines, Mathea Lim, who also visited Gabay’s general assembly, asked the attendees to write the reasons they teach on post-its and stick those post-its on a Manila paper. She then leaves the Manila paper to the Gabayanos for the latter to enshrine it in their org room. It would serve as “a reminder and an inspiration” to continue tutoring, according to Lim. It is also her hope that the Manila paper expands, and that more people would post their reasons for teaching. Lim said that “It (the Manila paper) shows that you are not alone (in the advocacy).”
Subsequent to Lim’s activity, Gabay President Darwin Tesion initiated the introduction of the committee and their respective projects. Tesion aimed to “ipakilala ang [Gabay] nang hindi masyadong teknikal.” Executive Board’s projects include Gabay Christmas Party, Kulito, Caroling, Bookworms, and Kits-4-Kids; Office of the Secretary General’s are Visual Branding, Documentation, Communication, YABAG; Member Formation Committee’s are GaBand, Gabay Awesome Dancers, gHOSTS, and Chill; Education Operations Committee’s are Alternative Classes Program, Data Management, and Modules Team; lastly, Scholar’s Adjustment Committee’s Scholars’ Stories.
Member Formation’s Chill sessions are specific times of the week when a group of scholars are to meet and get together. There are nine groups this year and Each team is composed of one facilitator and around seven members. This year’s Chill sessions theme is “Know Thyself” with the philosophers as the chill design.
After this, Mark dela Paz launched the Newbie Integration System “wherein new members must reach a minimum of 70 points every semester for one year.” This system ensures the participation and involvement of new members in Ateneo Gabay activities. Involvements are categorized into two types: sector and non-sector. For sector involvement. there are also four entries: Erya attendance, Scholar Events Attendance, CHILL Attendance, ACAD FGDs. For non-sector, there are four entries: core team, Event Volunteer (Non-Erya), General Attendance, and Emergency Volunteer. Furthermore, dela Paz also presented the job description and the election for Freshman Representative (FRep).
In an interview with Project Head Noelle Cubacub, she said that she was excited for this year and that “This batch is bigger than my batch! That is why I am so excited to meet all of them because I am hoping they will be really active in Gabay.” Regarding the preparation, Cubacub stated that preparing for the Assembly was fun but it became stressful when it was moved to a later date.
Sixty members attended the First General Assembly.