Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Would Lt. Dan Do?

The Ateneo Board of Trustees has rejected Manny Pangilinan's offer to resign as its chairman in the wake of the controversy stemming from the latter's graduation speeches to the Batch of 2010. This is not a surprise, considering that Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. had earlier expressed his doubts that resignation was the principled thing for Pangilinan to do under the circumstances.

But while I believe that his speechwriters were the ones at fault and not Pangilinan himself, I think my alma mater dropped the ball on this one. By not accepting the resignation, the Board of Trustees denied Pangilinan his sought-for martyrdom.

I am reminded of the following exchange in Forrest Gump between the title character and his commanding officer in Vietnam, after the former saved the latter from death during a gunbattle:
Lt. Dan: Now, you listen to me. We all have a destiny. Nothing just happens, it's all part of a plan. I should have died out there with my men! But now, I'm nothing but a goddamned cripple! A legless freak. Look! Look! Look at me! Do you see that? Do you know what it's like not to be able to use your legs?

Forrest: Well … Yes, sir, I do.

Lt. Dan: Did you hear what I said? You cheated me. I had a destiny. I was supposed to die in the field! With honor! That was my destiny! And you cheated me out of it! You understand what I'm saying, Gump? This wasn't supposed to happen. Not to me. I had a destiny. I was Lieutenant Dan Tyler.
It remains to be seen whether Pangilinan will grab the members of the Board by their collars, quoting all the while Lt. Dan Tyler, but I wouldn't count on it happening.

[5:30 PM Edit]

On the Ateneo website there's a letter that's purportedly "Batch 2010's Official Response to Manuel V. Pangilinan" and attributed to the president of the Loyola Schools Student Council for academic year 2009-2010. At first I thought the webmaster simply got carried away calling it Batch 2010's "official" response, but then I read that the letter says "Batch 2010" this and "the Batch" that a few times.

Now I'm not privy to the process that led to the issuance of that response, but given the diverse reactions of people within and without the Ateneo community, isn't it a bit presumptuous to make it appear that the sentiments in that letter are the "official" stand of a Batch of over a thousand members?

I don't recall now who the Sanggunian president during my senior year was, but I (and hopefully some of my friends) would've given him a piece of my mind if, in connection with a similarly contentious issue, he had spoken for our batch after we had already graduated and his term of office had already lapsed.

The Atenean blogger who was among the first to point out the offending passages in Pangilinan's speeches has changed her Tumblr username. Unfortunately, when a major news website cites your personal blog as a source for one of its articles things can indeed "spiral out of control".

[15 April 2010 Edit]

A number of faculty, administrators, professionals and staff of the Loyola Schools have denounced the the decision of the Board of Trustees:
Accepting Mr. Pangilinan’s offer to retire would have allowed him and the University to move on from this unfortunate incident. Mr. Pangilinan’s offer to retire was an honorable act. Not accepting Mr. Pangilinan’s offer to retire dishonors that action.

Full statement …

[16 April 2010 Edit]

As first reported by Talk 'N Text coach Chot Reyes midday today, Manny Pangilinan has reiterated his decision to resign as chairman of the Ateneo Board of Trustees effective immediately. Let's see how the university responds.

[19 April 2010 Edit]

Fr. Nebres has issued a message to the Ateneo community. The Board of Trustees, on the other hand, has not come up with any official statement.

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