Good morning. On behalf of the academic community of Holy Angel University, I would like to welcome you all to the Third Bantula International Conference on Culture-Based Research. I would like to particularly welcome our conference co-organizers – the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippine Cultural Education Program, and the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Incorporated – and our participants from overseas. I would like a special welcome back to Holy Angel University Commissioner Dr. Aldrin A. Darilag of the Commission on Higher Education.
Throughout our 86 years, Holy Angel University has been nationally known for preparing students for professional careers historically in business, engineering, and teacher education and more recently in criminology, computing, health and human services, and hospitality administration. With the exception of our advocacy as the conservator of Kapampangan cultural heritage, education in the liberal arts has not been traditionally identified with Holy Angel University. So how does Bantula fit our overall picture at Holy Angel?
The commonality of purpose between the Bantula International Conference and Holy Angel University makes it natural or second-nature for us to host this important conference. Our University Mission of transforming students into persons of conscience, competence, and compassion means that, to us, liberal arts education and professional preparation are not dichotomous, but rather comprise complementary and requisite knowledge. This is the reason for our claim to providing liberal arts-based professional education to our students. To demonstrate this commitment, we are the only university in the Philippines that require all college freshmen to enroll in a two-course sequence in Big History – the history of the universe and life from the Big Bang to the present (and the future), inculcating transdisciplinarity among our students and instilling in them not only the unity of disciplines but also the belief that all knowledge has a common source, a common purpose, and a common destination.
Earlier this week, our Holy Father Pope Francis canonized Saint John Henry Newman, the patron of university education. In his 1852 classic The Idea of a University, the then-Cardinal Newman shaped the foundations of university education as we know it and, in particular, liberal education. From this work has arisen the idea of “education of the whole person” that Holy Angel University professes. Faithful to this mandate, Holy Angel University takes seriously the moral imperative of forming every student individually according to God’s plan and the educational imperative of cultivating the intellect in order that the student can recognize, share, and defend the Truth. Genuine education truly liberates us from the slavery of ignorance, isolation, and the self toward the ideals of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Seeking the True, doing the Good, and loving the Beautiful are, indeed, the universal aim of university education – whether they are provided by State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs), or Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs). To these three ideals, Holy Angel and other Catholic schools add a fourth ideal—honoring the Sacred. The Bantula International Conference is an instrument for helping institutions carry out this ideal of genuine education.
Before I conclude, as an Angeleño, I would be negligent in my civic duties if I do not ask you to contribute to the local economy during the conference. Angeles City, as you know, is the culinary capital of the Philippines. I enjoin each of our out-of-town participants to savor authentic Kapampangan cuisine. You may ask any of my colleagues for the places that offer the best sisig, morcon, bringhe, betute, and the like. Just be sure that you have your supply of Lipitor, Metformin, Colchicine, and the like … and, if you forgot to bring there, Angeles City is probably the one city with the highest per capita number of pharmacies.
I wish all conference participants the best as you embark on this scholarly gathering.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam! Laus Deo Semper!