Foundation Day Homily 2020: Magnifying Strength. Continuing Greatness.

On April 22, 2019, 4 people died, 7 people injured, and 40 people trapped when Chuson supermarket in Porac collapsed after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake rocked this part of Luzon. According to DPWH, the said supermarket did not follow the specifications listed
in the submitted plan for the building’s foundation.

In December of last year, 2019, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (or PISA), where the Philippines ranked No. 79 among 79 countries in reading literacy, and No. 78 in mathematics and science literacy. The reason behind the dismal results: poor academic foundation brought about or exacerbated by socio-economic conditions and lopsided national priorities.

Science tells us that the effects of hunger, malnutrition, and stress on brain development are not only devastating, but can be quite irreversible. This is why a proper balance of nutrients in the first years of life is of foundational necessity for normal brain development.

St. Ignatius of Loyola stressed that the principle and foundation of any spirituality is that God loves us fiercely, passionately, and unconditionally. Because of this love, God’s desires and hopes for us are based on who we are: our gifts, talents, preferences, and joys. That ultimately, what God wants for us is the same as our deepest desires.

These are but a few examples to show that foundation is important—whether it is about building infrastructure, brain development, learning outcomes, and even the area of spirituality. The first reading states that the good news gained foothold because it has a firm foundation. In the gospel, Jesus points out that a house built on sand will never last, while a house anchored on a strong foundation has an arguably better chance of surviving rains and floods and super typhoons.

Today, our FOUNDATION DAY, we are called to remember the day UA was founded. And that was 57 years ago. Like someone who is celebrating his or her birthday, we are asked to look back and be amazed at how far UA has come.

It is said that “our present moment used to be our unimaginable future” (Stewart Brand). For those of us who belong to the Baby Boomer Generation and Generation X, the progress and development we see today in almost all aspects of life would have been unimaginable while we were growing up. Who would have thought that smart phones, text messaging, internet, social media, drones, Grab, Netflix and an Alfa Mart right in front of UA would ever be possible?

Just the other day, two alumni belonging to the Batch of 1969 dropped by my office to formally present their plan to hold their Golden+1 Anniversary here in the campus. Since they had not seen UA for a long time, the place, according to them, is almost unrecognizable. It has grown much larger than the Puno and Ryan Buildings they had known during their time. I’m sure Bishop Cinense himself, our founder, would be stunned by how far his vision has progressed and would hardly recognize the face of the school he gave birth to. I’m also sure he would just as be extremely happy and proud of its success.

Indeed we’ve come a long way. And I’m sure all the teachers and students, employees and guardians who have passed through the gates of this institution have wonderful stories and unforgettable memories to share: from broadening one’s knowledge to forging lasting friendships, from intimate moments of prayer to making fun of teachers, from holding student council positions to mending broken hearts.

On Facebook, I believe it is EAMO who initiated “#ekukalinguan: Nanu ing favorite tambayan mu kanita inside the campus.” What is your favorite hang-out on campus? One alumnus wrote: Hindi ko siya paborito, pero laging tambayan ko. And he was referring to the Office of the Prefect of Discipline!

But together with memories and stories that remain wonderful and unforgettable, there were also stories that were sad and painful – the student unrest, union strikes, conflict between management and employees, disgruntled students and parents, parents vs. parents, vandalism, inappropriate behavior, etc. Perhaps we needed to go through those experiences in order to get a deeper sense of who we are and why we are here for. Might as we wish that they’d be quickly forgotten, they will – like it or not – be constitutive of our history. And while we try our best to prevent them from recurring, we’re thankful that they did happen– if only for the valuable lessons they left behind.

57 years of existence only means that we stand on a good foundation. We have been faithful to the founder’s vision. But like any other foundation, it has to be constantly fortified so it remains future-proof.

The theme chosen for this year’s Foundation Day offers concrete ways on how that foundation can be reinforced:


We have a choice. We can choose to remember and dwell on the sad and painful stories. But we can also choose to bring with us the joyful and memorable ones and magnify them – to allow them to stand out. We can choose to remember the houses we built on sand, but we also have the power to choose to remember the houses we built on solid rock that have stood the ravages of time.

This does not mean pretending to ignore or deny our present problems and challenges. But magnifying our strengths offers a better understanding of how to deal with our weaknesses and help us gain the confidence we need to address them. Let us therefore magnify our strengths, focus on what we are good at, and in the same breadth, work on things we feel we need to improve on.


Not to rest on our accomplishment but to continue to dream big, not only for ourselves, not only for UA, but most especially, for our nation, for our people. We do this by our little acts of fidelity to our mission, by the small acts of goodness we do that – when combined – create a powerful impact.

Erma Bombeck, a syndicated columnist, once wrote: “I used to live for life’s big moments. But I’ve learned over the years that it’s usually not the big moments that make up a life. It’s not going to college that makes you an adult, but the discipline of showing up for class and studying for tests. It’s not the wedding ceremony that makes you a married couple, but the daily commitment to stay in love. And it’s not giving birth that makes you a parent, but braiding hair and kissing scraped knees and singing someone to sleep.”

Indeed, it is these small things that add up to greatness.

Friends, the two invitations of this year’s foundation day celebration: To realize how far we have come, and be filled with gratitude. To accept the challenge of the future, and be filled with hope.

Three years from now, we shall celebrate UA’s 60th founding anniversary. Let us make UA’s diamond jubilee truly meaningful and convincingly celebratory by magnifying strength and continuing greatness. Amen.


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