Salubong ‘23: PBB Scholars Edition

Welcomes New Housemates
in the “ATE NEO”

By Tep Isidro

Salubong is an annual welcoming event for freshie Atenean scholars, spearheaded by Ateneo Gabay’s Academic Committee. On August 12 this year, within the walls of Leong Hall, Salubong stayed true to its commitment to introducing the Atenean scholars to the culture and services of the scholar community. It also underscored the Ateneo culture's core values of fostering solidarity, service, and compassion.

For the first time after three years, this year’s Salubong unfolded, fully on-site, featuring a packed day-long program from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.welcoming a total of 246 freshie scholar whole-day attendees. The morning session commenced with warm opening remarks by Raine Bales, one of the project heads of Salubong ‘23. In her speech, Raine affirmed that she found a home in Ateneo as a scholar with confidence that the freshie scholars will have it, not only the same but better.

“So if I were to give a general experience of my stay in ADMU as a scholar, I can say that I found a home—a place where I know I am loved and properly taken care of and at the same, a place where I know that I would be helped and motivated to hone my knowledge, skills and talents as I strive to realize my full potential. So I hope—no, I am actually confident—that your experience will be the same, if not better.”

Raine’s speech was immediately followed by heartwarming welcoming messages from Fr. Bobby Yap, Dr. Maria Luz Vilches, and Dr. Jose Maria Edito Tirol—with the two former via a recorded message, and the latter via on-site delivery.

Meanwhile, OAA-Scholarship Officer Rosalydel Bajao also presented an introduction to the Office of Admission and Aid (OAA) and the services it offers for scholars. Afterward, forthwith, former Scholars’ Sector Representative Myra Arce shared enlightening insights about her life as a scholar. After their respective talks, Ms. Bajao and Ms. Arce engaged in an open forum with the freshie scholars, which became an avenue for further questions and clarifications.

Following the morning program, there was a lunch break, during which meals were served to both attendees and the core team and volunteers of Salubong ‘23. The costs associated with the lunch and snacks distributed have been graciously covered by the OAA.

During the afternoon part of the event, Willy Santos, Ateneo Gabay President introduced Ateneo Gabay to the freshie scholars and gave them an overview of the organization. This was followed by Arjun Plomantes’ introduction of Studybuddy, the official brand of academic service offered to the Loyola Schools community, initiated by Ateneo Gabay, in partnership with the OAA. Subsequently, Raine Cinco introduced the specific Scholars Services which also marked the launch of the Scholars’ Support Group (SSG). And to cap the post-lunch talk series, incumbent Scholars’ Sector Representative Karen Perez delivered her talk to introduce and launch the Scholars Sectoral Board (SSB).

The freshie scholars met their SSG groups and engaged in getting-to-know activities and fun games like charades. Throughout the day-long onsite program, there were various raffles and games with prizes such as GCash money, sponsor masks from Jelli Tech International, and sponsor vouchers from Papa K's, Motivo, D'Expresso, Moon and Oak and Kindred, which also allowed the freshie scholars to interact with each other.

Toward the end of the program, Yen De Los Santos, “PBB Scholar Big Sister,” gave her advice or payo to the freshie scholars with the notable Subway Surfers background, which captivated the eyes of her audience; but her words, their ears, and hearts. Subsequently, to officially end the program, Becca Ramos, one of the project heads of Salubong ‘23, delivered her closing remarks.

The theme for this year's Salubong was a creative spin on the widely-recognized reality show "Pinoy Big Brother," popularly known by its abbreviated title, PBB. The twist introduced a unique dimension by fashioning it as "Scholars Edition."

Arjun Plomantes, project overseer for Salubong '23, explained that the chosen theme was driven by the desire to create a genuinely welcoming and comforting “vibe” for the new scholars. Plomantes emphasized that despite the numerous challenges that come with college life, the concept draws parallels with the experience of being a housemate in Big Brother's residence—where communityship and love for the home and its inhabitants endures.

“Kasi in Salubong we offer them some comfort na life as an Atenean scholar will be good, maraming blessings (yung mga allowance, scholar services, food, prizes, service hours), marami silang payo na maririnig, maraming talks literal, maraming games ang challenges, pero the real college world is when you step outside Leong. Salubong is only to kickstart their college journey, kumbaga when all are said and done, as a freshie, paano ka na gagalaw sa real college world?”

As the echoes of cheers, laughter, and camaraderie reverberated within the halls of Leong Hall, Salubong '23 concluded with a resounding affirmation of belongingness and purpose. The theme of the "PBB Scholars Edition" perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the day, as freshie Atenean scholars embarked on their college journey with a sense of community, support, and shared experiences.