SOPA and Social Responsibility

Ano ang ibig sabihin ng pagiging mahirap?

SOPA (State of the Poor Address) has been one of the flagship and widely celebrated projects of the Ateneo Student Catholic Action (AtSCA). It started out as the State of the Urban Poor Address (SoUPA) a few years back, targeting social awareness among individuals within the Ateneo community. It is held annually within the Loyola Schools grounds. It is a symposium where speakers are invited to have an informative discursion with the students and faculty. These speakers come from backgrounds that involves being with the poor.

But what do we mean by poor? To be poor comes in different forms. It could be in the context of being poor in soul, body, education, income, performance, etc. Everyone is poor at something. Looking beyond the idea of materialistic poverty, being poor is more than not getting enough wages to pay for rent or buy food for your family. It does not stop at the idea of seeing street children begging for money. Everyone was not born on equal footing in this world. Perseverance is not the only answer to freeing people from poverty. Our brothers and sisters are not only “materially poor” but also lack the human freedom other people have.

Roger Haight, S.J. once mentioned, “They are the oppressed; they are the marginalized who do not participate in the power and decision making that determine their destiny.” Power struggle has been present ever since the first society was created. Sadly, power distribution is still uneven today. What define us from the previous era is the individualism and egoism we possess. The world is not created for people to live their own lives. People are not created to ignore others. We live, breathe, and eventually survive because of others’ existence.

Recognizing people and valuing social justice, AtSCA brings together individuals in these kinds of projects to help them shatter the notions of a submissive lifestyle. Instead of being indifferent, people have to bring back the dynamism we have for one another and be equipped with the right principles. AtSCA has three pillars – faith-formation, area apostolate and social awareness all with the bearing of our Jesuit Education. When a person loses one of these pillars, he will end up lost in the midst of different perspectives and opinions the world brings about. It is similar to a chair losing one of its legs. The human person becomes weak and not well-equipped.

By doing so, we do not only bring social awareness to the picture in this project by hearing out the voices of the poor. We also want to encourage people to explore the social and national issues of today. We may have experienced the hype of the May National Elections but being a Filipino does not end there. At present, we have a new president and a new administration. In a few days, his Excellency’s first 100 days will be over. Instead of becoming indifferent to our society’s actions, we become active political beings as well. Along with the two pillars, social responsibility rests in our hands that we must know how to deal with the national issues of today. Faith that does justice – this is AtSCA.


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