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Home » Migrated » A Call to All Ateneo Alumni & Friends of the Ateneo

A Call to All Ateneo Alumni & Friends of the Ateneo

Blowout ‘to ni Chiara (ADZU’s Pan Cada Dia)

Sonny Cortez

In July, for her birthday, the wife (Bong) enrolled in ADZU’s Birthday Club (officially the ADZU Birthday Scholarship Fund) where one commits one peso a day until one’s next birthday. The birthday money is pooled together for scholarships. She made one step further to commemorate her birthday by contributing a day’s worth of meals to the Pan Cada Dia, ADZU’s feeding program for its scholars who otherwise might not have lunch money. (She had wished -but it was not possible then – to have her donation used for the July 5 lunch.)

We wanted to make the Birthday Club and Pan Cada Dia a family birthday tradition. I can’t remember why we failed to do it for Iggy’s July 22 birthday. I do know we skipped on my birthday as Zamboanga was still under siege and everyone here had bigger things on their minds.

With James Robert Falcasantos’s encouragement and company, we picked up what Bong started in July for our daughter Chiara’s birthday on December 2. We enrolled her in the Birthday Club and gave a day’s worth of meals for the scholars as Chiara’s birthday blowout. Being thousands of miles apart, we felt these gestures of kindness towards others somewhat brought us together with our firstborn on her birthday. She was, after all, an enthusiastic volunteer in her University’s Outreach Program, handing out warm blankets, hot coffee, and conversation to the homeless scattered along University Avenue in Palo Alto. She would have appreciated the Blowout.

Bong and James Robert (an incumbent Alumni Association Trustee) have since been informally exchanging ideas on how to make the Pan Cada Dia a more personal experience for the donor. Bong wanted the donation to be a shared celebration with the scholars – be it for a birthday, an anniversary, the birth of a child, a promotion, passing the Board/Bar, etc. In short, a Blowout… a way of sharing one’s blessings with one’s fellow Ateneans, who are facing economic challenges on their way to getting the prized Jesuit education.

I thought Alumni Year Batches may want to sponsor a day’s meal or more to celebrate their Jubilee Year. There are currently 63 scholars in the feeding program. The school canteen provides a complete lunch for Pesos 35 per head. A day’s meal for all 63 scholars costs Pesos 2100. In USD terms, the cost of one day’s blowout is less than 50 dollars!

When we visited the Admissions Office (where these programs are administered), we had a chance to briefly brainstorm with the Director of Admissions & Aid, Emir Espano, who was receptive to our suggestions. My wife Bong, a programs technical pro in her previous life, pointed out that the emotive factor in making the Pan Cada Dia sponsorship personal for the donor is a big factor in getting more and repeat donations. Nobody tires of celebrations, and considering the Zamboanguenos’ inherent generosity to share Life’s Bounty with friends and kin, the feeding program can turn to be one continuous daily Blowout!

Magari! Sana nga!



A Call to All Ateneo Alumni & Friends of the Ateneo
(A New Initiative for the Siu Hua Yu Fund/ Pan Cada Dia Program)

Hunger is a situation that nobody in this day and age should have to suffer, and yet, our own experience at the Ateneo shows that it is a prevalent and often hidden problem.

It is hard to imagine that there are students at the Ateneo today that go to school hungry because they can’t afford three square meals a day. It is a disturbing reality. But it is true–some of our students are underfed and this is not something new. Hungry students were already with us yesterday. Emir Españo shares one particular example.

“My father died of cancer at the National Kidney Institute in 1989. I still can’t believe how we survived that crisis then. I was the eldest of four siblings and we come from a very small and very ordinary family. God worked through people who came like angels to help us. One of them came with a story that I have not forgotten and never will. Justino was my student in theology when he was a college freshman at the Ateneo de Zamboanga. He came to visit me at the funeral home and offered a rather huge amount as help for the expenses during the wake. I thanked him and we sat quietly for a while.

He spoke about his success story in his insurance career after graduating with honors at Ateneo. He was from one of the little towns in Zamboanga del Sur and we reminisced his days as a cocofed scholar and there were many good and beautiful memories shared. He then said something that totally floored me. He said, “Sir, do you know that during most of my four years in college, my brother and I only had one meal a day?” He continued, “My brother and I had to share whatever little allowance our parents could send. We were staying at a boarding house at Calarian. Because we had no money for transportation, we were up very early in the morning so we could start walking to school taking the Cawa-Cawa Boulevard route. Very few of my classmates in the pilot section knew this. They did not know that there were days while they took their lunch at the cafeteria I was at the fountain drinking as much water as possible to sustain me during the day. There were days I survived on water and candies.” He was smiling as he finished telling his story.

I was shaken and wanted to tell him that I am sorry I did not know and that I could have looked for ways to help… but this was all water under the bridge for him now.

As I marveled at the exceptional triumph of the human spirit shown in the life-story of this young man, I wondered how many more students there are at ADZU and other schools who are hungry while trying to learn and study and get a college education.”

You may want to help hungry students like Justino at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University today.

Our Pan Cada Dia (Our Daily Bread) Food Subsidy Program is feeding 63 indigent students today. This program started six years ago with only 10 recipients who were given lunch coupons worth 25.00 each. Today our 63 recipients get meal stubs worth P35.00 each for lunch at our University Cafeteria every day.


You can treat our 63 PCD scholars for lunch during your birthday!

Give a BLOWOUT to our Pan Cada Dia recipients as you celebrate your birthday or wedding anniversary or thanksgiving for passing the licensure board exam, or any other special occasion!

Giving “Libre” lunch or dinner to our needy students is also a great way to celebrate your special FEAST DAY following the name of your class section in grade school or high school (for example St John de Brebeuf SJ every June 12, St Edmund Campion SJ every December 1, St John Ogilvie SJ every March 10, etc.)

Or you may simply want to fete a free meal for PCD students after your retirement from your job or to celebrate gratitude for the gift of life and gifts received.

All you have to do is contact us at the College Admissions and Aid Office (062) 9910871 local 2212 or email

Cash gifts and checks may be sent directly to the College Admissions & Aid Office, Bellarmine-Campion Hall, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, La Purisima Street, 7000 Zamboanga City, Philippines. Please make check donations payable to Ateneo de Zamboanga University.

A meal at the University Cafeteria costs P35.00 (US$0.86). Monthly food allowance for one scholar is P840.00 (US$20.48). A semester’s food subsidy for one scholar is P4,200.00 (US$102.43) which is good for 5 months. Currently the Pan Cada Dia (Daily Bread) Program is feeding 63 indigent scholars every day.