Modeling the Way to Love and Faith
I wrote this just a few weeks after volunteering to conduct strategy sessions for a Jesuit Mission serving the Umajamnen tribe in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon - a very rich and humbling experience for me, after working in the corporate world in Manila and in Silicon Valley in the US the last ten years. Two young Ateneo graduates ushered this opportunity for me, and one teacher planted the seeds many years ago when I was studying in the Ateneo.
Ateneo is and will always be home to me. There are a thousand reasons why, but I want to focus on one, honor one person, one teacher who made a profound, enduring impact in my life because of his sheer witnessing of a simple and faithful life – the legendary and much loved Bobby Guev.
Bob is one of the professors who walked his talk and modeled the way to serve in love and faith. He does not just teach Theo 101 or A Theology of the Catholic Social Vision (formerly called Theology of Liberation); he embraces and lives out its core concept --- the preferential option for the poor, which centers on the demonstrable preference given to people in poverty, and the vulnerable and powerless individuals who live in the peripheries. He lives a simple life within and outside the campus, and has dedicated his life to excellent teaching and bridging the divide between privileged Ateneans and marginalized sectors. He cares for the poor and lives with those forgotten by mainstream society – he has eaten with the Dumagats whatever food they had on their table, drunk gin and rice wine while sharing stories with farmers, and worked with rural communities to enhance their livelihood. He has taught me by letting me experience the same in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija where I had my immersion with the Dumagat tribe and the parish community. I am sure there are many personal stories his former students can share about how he generously lived out and shared his life.
Just by being himself, and being a person for others, Bob has inspired his students to understand and experience the realities of the world through his inspiring lectures, honest conversations, and life-changing immersion programs, and to do so much more and so much better, whatever you choose to do in your life – MAGIS! I remember pulling out all stops and spending nights just to create a moving music video about God and nature, and to dramatize a media interview of a plundered and raped mother nature for his class. Magis! And even before the words “oneness” and “inclusion” became a trend, Bob has envisioned a society that is just and free, a world where people, regardless of their economic and social standing, love and care for each other and the environment, and help each other live decent and fulfilling lives. Because he is committed to his convictions and leads by example, he is able to inspire his students to share his vision and aspirations.
Bob is a patient teacher. He exemplifies being kind and compassionate in sharing his knowledge and understanding of theological concepts and biblical wisdom, but he never shoves his beliefs down your throat. He creates a safe and sacred space for his students to learn, practice, and reflect, thus enabling them to act out of the goodness of their own hearts. He subscribes to learning by personal experience, and letting that experience transform you. You either love the immersion or you don’t, but you must discern and choose your own path and be committed to it. That in itself is Bob’s way of showing compassion and empathy to his own students, who may choose different roads to travel in their own lives. Such simple act of love and humility all the more brings him closer to his students, and accord him the utmost respect for a true teacher.
Bobby Guev has changed my perspective on society and has deeply touched my heart forever. My immersion under his class has taught me to be compassionate to people, care for nature, and empathize with those who have less and are forgotten. It has made me conscious of the impact that I have on people around me, my community, our country, and the world. I have not stopped immersing myself in the communities I wish to help and serve. I continue to aspire for greater things, but I feel my humanity the most when I live on the edge and immerse myself in the peripheries. And I am grateful to Bobby Guev for that.
Michelle “Mitsch” Tapia is a graduate of BS Psychology from the Loyola Schools.