|FR. TITO CALUAG WITH ATENEO ICON -- DR. ONOFRE PAGSANGHAN|
Vim Nadera: How would you compare your experience today with your stint as the Principal of the Ateneo de Manila High School?
Fr. Carmelo Caluag: It is the same and different. More than the school, I am really a person who has a very simple and solid view and philosophy of education. It is to help young people discover their passion and their mission – and live a mission-inspired life with passion. The difference is Ateneo is private and has very specific identity and mission. The same is true for PHSA in the area of distinct identity and mission. The big difference is PHSA is public and very specialized.
VN: Is your job easier when you were the Headmaster of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School or when you were the first Director for the Basic Education Units of the Ateneo de Manila?
CC: It was easier in the sense that I knew the terrain much better. I was in Ateneo since 1963. Plus I also was used to the infrastructure of Ateneo.
VN: Why did you resign as Vice-President for the University Development and Alumni Relations of Ateneo de Manila in 2005?
CC: I was supposed to help launch a major capital fund campaign for the Ateneo. That was the deal when I left my first love – HS and GS work. I felt I needed to do the fundraising for the University because I believe that a school is as good as its resources. We needed to beef up our armory, so to speak. So in late 1999 when it was offered to me I asked for two weeks to pray and think. Early 2000 I accepted and clearly pointed out I was good only to start and I move on – back to basic education. As is my habit when I get into an office, I check what I can contribute, etc, and always plan my exit. From 2000, the plan was launched on 10 December 2004 , Ateneo’s 145th anniversary, and culminated on 10 December 2009, the 150th anniversary. Then I go and do teacher formation. As early as 2003, I told my superiors I really felt God is calling me to do teacher formation and even requested that early that after the launch they not assign me to do administration work and allow me to form lay teachers for our grade schools and high schools so we can expand or open basic education schools. When 10 Decemeber 2004 came, we were not able to launch.
When I looked back – over the Christmas break over 2004 I was able to tell God, “Lord, you know I did my best, but it was not meant to be. Time for me to move on, may I?” Then the following year I discussed this with my superiors. What was key also was a change in my provincial. When I had to do my teacher formation work our new provincial had set an organizational priority – no new works or apostolates. So when we were talking his condition was for me to see my long time spiritual director and our generation’s spiritual guru, Fr. Benny Calpotura. I saw him on 7 May 2005, my late father’s birthday. In that conversation he told me that it was clear that God was leading out of the Society of Jesus and out of Ateneo to do my work. I clearly remember his tell me this and the final “word,’ – “The movements are very clear.” When I saw my provincial to discuss this with him, I told him, “Dan, when you are marching the brass band west and here I am marching with my little drum east, time to go.” It was a very friendly and peaceful parting of ways.