Things have changed in the celebration of the yearly-awaited Ateneo Fiesta. Aside from the integration of the school’s Intramurals or mostly known as Palarong Atenista, events such as the Search for the Ateneo Intramurals Ambassadors were included to make the celebration more diverse, inclusive and representative of the different divisions.
As stressed by SAMAHAN Pres. John Chin in an interview, he hopes to achieve a celebration that is more of an essence – not just to celebrate Intramurals as a competition but with a vision that something is going to happen.
Yet, despite of the hopeful vision of SAMAHAN for a more meaningful celebration, concerns were raised regarding the addition of some activities, especially regarding the means of pursuing events such as the Search for the Ateneo Intramurals Ambassadors, where divisions are pitted against each other through advocacy competition.
This has brought in the issue of advocacies’ genuine significance as they are reduced to mere commodities that can be used just to win the crown.
SEAP, an independent charity that specializes in the provision of advocacy and related services gave a meaningful definition of an advocacy which has stated that an advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society and must able to have their voice heard on issues that are important to them, defend and safeguard their rights, and have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.
Therefore, advocacies in and of themselves are seen to be relevant and genuine. They raise certain causes for the benefit of certain communities and are coherent to the people’s needs.
However, some big events like pageant competitions make use of these advocacies to pursue the event without highlighting its importance. The search for this year’s ambassadors and ambassadress can’t escape these criticisms.
Given that it is and will always be a competition, the importance of the advocacies is somehow overshadowed by what’s superficial such as the beauty and wit of each contestant. Advocacies may not be emphasized but rather sensationalized by such standards. Also, advocacies should never be subjected to a competition because in such manner because they have their own different essences. If the division wants the advocacies to be emphasized, is this the only way to do it?
As a result, people won’t see the deeper value of such matters, which tends to blind the audience. The cheers and shouts from the audience don’t even manifest support for the advocacies but rather for the contestants. Tendency is, the essence of the advocacies will be overpowered by the sense of competition the division embodies.
If the SAMAHAN’s vision is for an organic change to happen, it must review its mechanisms of promoting these advocacies without diluting their very essence through the audience’s blind adherence and apathetic perceptions.
When asked about his thoughts on the pageant, a student from the Business and Management division named Daryl said it was irrelevant because it was built just to provide “fun” to the students.
The question still remains, are the winning advocacies can really positively shape the landscape of the entire student body or these are just products of convenient means and pretentious acts just to win the crown?
In SAMAHAN’s defense
In SAMAHAN’s defense, Chin elaborately explained the importance of the proposed advocacies which can be a starting point of discussions and whoever wins, they will lead the discussion and creation of means to pursue future relevant projects to be undergone and actualized.
He also added that the content of the proposal should focus more on sports and its implication to the entire Ateneo community.
Discussions may be relevant to let the student body participate in the process of crafting policies and activities to ensure that the concerns and needs of the student body are being resolved but is the Search for the Ateneo Intramurals Ambassadors the only way to pursue such endeavors?
To answer the question, Chin anticipated about his visions of the proposals, which he wants to be fulfilled. Furthermore, he also said he will make sure that the efforts of the ambassadors will not be wasted by the SAMAHAN’s strong commitment to fully assist them in pursuing their proposals to benefit the Ateneo community.
Given that SAMAHAN is one of the strongest mechanisms of the student body to ensure its welfare and voice out concerns, it must assure that the proposals must achieve their greater goals.
He even shared their plans for processing the proposals, saying, “We’re actually [already] planning [for the advocacy’s project implementation].”
Not just about the crown
Over the years, the way the society treat pageant competitions has significantly changed by providing balance between beauty and wit but most especially by assessing the willpower of every contestant to win their fights against exploitation, marginalization, disenfranchisement and other global concerns.
People have become more deliberate in choosing whom to trust the crown, although still, some people think it will always be a competition no matter what. Evidently, this mindset has generalized the context of these competitions, which are supposed to promote awareness and influence among individuals to be involved. The challenge now is to break this dominating rule of the game to achieve the more important goals of a competition.
The Search for the Ateneo Intramurals Ambassadors can be a means to provide students a platform to be involved in the process and represent the different concerns every division wants to raise and take action to solve them. But the audience must never blind themselves of what’s superficial and must see the greater value these advocacies have – a power to put everyone at the pedestal of change.
At the end of the day, a competition must not only end by piles of overrated and over-sensationalized advocacies. It must come sincerely from the determination of every contestant without using pretentious means just to win the game. Despite of the sense of competition that runs the event, it must never be a platform to undermine the relevance and vitality of the advocacies that must sound bigger than the petty standards a competition upholds.