Report by Angelo Lorenzo
Photos by Anthony Jacob Karagdag
In the call to spearhead social development for the marginalized through formative education, Xavier Ateneo introduces the university’s newest technical-vocational senior high school program, by far the biggest endowment of the Gotianun Foundation.
Formally unveiled during the 2nd Board of Trustees Speaker Series on Friday, September 1 at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel, the Andrew L Gotianun Sr Center for Integrated Technologies (ALGCIT) is dedicated to further the academic institution’s thrust for inclusive learning, particularly towards competent students from financially-challenged families.
The three-year program constitutes a curriculum that enhances students’ employable skills for lucrative jobs in various professions related to labor and manufacturing industries.
The ALGCIT program covers Automotive Servicing, Computer and Electronics Technology, Energy and Power System, and Mechanical Design and Fabrication as its four specializations.
Offering the first two years in academics and skills training under the tech-voc track and a year of practice in the field before completion, this is Xavier Ateneo’s newly-anticipated center that had sprouted from the generosity of the Gotianun family.
ALGCIT will rise on the grounds of XU’s Manresa property in uptown CDO. For the first phase of the program, 160 students will be housed in modern dormitories as part of the scholarship.
At the end of the three-year program of ALGCIT, the students are expected “to graduate world-ready, with international standard competencies, and spiritual and social commitment the Ateneo way.”
Centralized in Mindanao
One of ALGCIT’s aims, according to Filinvest Development Corporation chairman Jonathan Gotianun, is to become Mindanao’s leading tech-voc program just as how Xavier Ateneo became the first university in Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao’s center for higher education.
In the banquet held in his honor, the son of the program’s namesake presented data in slides projected on a screen about the differences of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in terms of literacy rate, poverty incidence, and the rate of each region’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product among other topics.
“Mindanao continues to lag behind the Philippines, in all measurable aspect of development,” he said.
As the keynote speaker, he revealed his family’s reason for deciding to establish the program here. “Some of my grandfather’s shipping company’s vessels had reached Mindanao when his company operated out of Cebu,” Gotianun recalled. “We felt Mindanao as the area of the greatest need.”
In a way for a business tycoon to help, he and his family had decided to fund the program so that the marginalized sectors of Mindanao could gain more opportunities for prosperity through education.
“The donation of the Gotianun family will just be enough to complete phase one,” he shared. “By teaching employable skills, we can open opportunities for them to break out of the cycle of poverty and hopelessness.”
He needed to collaborate with capable educators to actualize this dream. “This endeavor will not succeed without your help.”
Jonathan met with Xavier Ateneo president Fr Roberto “Bobby” C Yap SJ a year ago to share this vision of his. Aligning this with the usual thematic approach of schools run by the Society of Jesus, Gotianun has always been familiar with how being “men and women for others” involves taking action and engaging in feasible solutions to answer the needs of those in the peripheries.
Having been immersed in Jesuit education for his basic and undergraduate studies, Gotianun has excelled in business and management through the years without neglecting the compelling call to serve.
Yap recounted his acquaintance with Gotianun and his family: “In June 2016, brother Jesuits had informed me that the Gotianun family wants to support a tech-voc school and they are willing to give scholarships, raise buildings, and contribute to facilities and equipment.”
Succeeding the meeting held at Gotianun’s central office in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, the two have been continually communicating with each other to establish the program.
“I’ve always been impressed by his dedication and his commitment to really make this happen,” Yap remarked. “This is the biggest gift for a single project from a single donor for Xavier Ateneo.”
Yap also emphasized that Gotianun’s generosity has extended the program to be on full scholarship, which means that apart from the free training the students will undergo, they will also be granted in-campus residence for the duration of the program where board and lodging form part of their senior high school education.
A path to excellence
With Xavier Ateneo’s collective goal for its community to experience excellence, the university has endeavored to equip students with quality education incorporated with conscientious learning based on the Jesuit-constructed Ignatian principles. Through the years, it has produced renowned individuals notable for their accomplishments in their respective fields.
However, before Gotianun’s donation, Xavier Ateneo has faced uncertainties due to the decapitation of expenses for the transition to the K-12 program.
XU’s vice-president for basic education Dr Dulce Dawang responded to Gotianun’s speech with gratuity. “We really feel that this act of charity is like manna from heaven,” she said.
“It came at just the right time. Since the university has faced grappling issues due to the transition, there was a time when closure for the CIT was considered,” Dawang added.
The primary problem, according to Dawang, was not the resources. Since the university is already composed of devoted faculty and staff, it was the demand for skilled tech-voc workers in the present industries in the country that the university finds it an imperative to supply.
“We believe in the relevance of CIT,” Dawang said. “We believe in the history of the successes of out CIT graduates.”
As it is not only Xavier Ateneo among all of CDO’s higher education institutions that face the same circumstance with a significant amount of finances drained for the K-12 transition, the city looks into the education sector as one of its top priorities.
Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno graced the event on Friday evening among Xavier Ateneo’s respectable academicians, staff, student leaders, and guests from various organizations.
In a concluding remark, Moreno shared on CDO being consistently one of the National Competitiveness Council’s (NCC) ten competitive cities nationwide. This year, only CDO and Davao made it in the list outside Metro Manila. Both cities are located in Mindanao.
With education as the city’s indicative factor for development success, Moreno further encourages cultural literacy as a way to understand those in the margins, especially groups presently stigmatized by pressing conflicts.
“Hopefully, the incident in Marawi is a wake-up call for all of us in Mindanao,” he stated. “I hope Xavier will continue to awaken people.”
With the ALGCIT program well on its way to start in SY2018-2019, it calls for the skillfully-capable youth to realize the extent of their potential so they can take part in the progress amidst trying times.
As Gotianun advised, “We should recommit ourselves to the work and persevere in the pursuit of progress, not only for a select group of people but for all the people in Mindanao. … Be not afraid.”
About Andrew L Gotianun Sr Center for Integrated Technologies (ALGCIT)