Great leaders inspire. For 30 years, Ateneo Celadon has produced a string of great leaders, and this year’s batch is no different. Hence, we’ve decided to interview Celadon’s current executive board, so we can learn valuable insights from the very best of the organization!
Let’s meet the dynamic duo behind Celadon’s Financial Affairs Department (FIN), Vice-President (VP) Aldwyn Tan and Associate Vice-President (AVP) Irish Tolentino!
What made you want to become a Celadon leader?
Aldwyn Tan (AT): “I started out my Celadon journey without knowing where it’d lead. All I knew was that I wanted to be in this organization where the people and environment would still more or less be the same as what I’ve been used to. I hoped to find a family in Celadon, and I sure did. I guess this sense of family and belongingness was what really made me want to do more for this org. Being a Celadon leader partly means sharing this love and family to all of its members. And this is just my simple way of giving back to the org that I owe my Celadon journey to.”
Irish Tolentino (IT): “When I was a freshman, Celadon got my interest because I knew of a few people from my high school that were very active in the org. I initially joined to see for myself what Celadon could give for me. Things got rolling after I joined several projects. To my surprise, during my second year, right after the Santa’s Attic Bazaar (where I was project head) had ended, I realized that I wasn’t only after what opportunities Celadon could give to me anymore. I found myself feeling basking in happiness and fulfillment, knowing that I can actually contribute and be part to something bigger and greater than myself. And perhaps, if given the chance, even give other people the same opportunity to do so and have that same feeling. That was when I decided I wanted to become a Celadon leader.”
Summarize leadership in one sentence.
AT: “Leadership is the capacity to inspire people to work with you towards a clear, shared vision.”
IT: “Leadership is looking at the bigger picture and motivating people [where] you work with toward a vision while also enabling them to discover the leader that is innate in them.”
What was the biggest leap/risk that you’ve had to take as a leader?
AT: “Back in my sophomore year, Irish and I proposed to spearhead Celadon’s first ever bazaar. It was a bold move on our part. Celadon’s fundraisers weren’t really big before. I knew that that was my chance to make a change in Celadon’s Fin Department at that time, but I also knew that we were just sophomores at that time, starting a whole new project from scratch, with not much experience.I admit that it was really hard and stressful. We faced a lot of problems and difficulties, but to tell you the truth, those experiences are what really molded me to becoming the Celadon leader that I am today.
“It is when we’re faced adversity – of having to make the difficult choices – is when we truly discover ourselves and what we’re capable of. So I thought: if I hadn’t taken that risk then, if I just kept on waiting for myself to be ready before taking a risk, then I’m not really sure when that would be or if it would happen at all because we can never be truly ready. What matters is first taking that leap of faith, then just committing yourself to the choices you’ve made, and see wherever it’ll lead you. And looking at Fin now, I’m pretty sure enough that risk paid off.”
IT: “The biggest risk I have taken is to give the people I work with my 100% trust and confidence to them that they will make great things happen. As a leader, one might have this sense of entitlement with the thought that you are always right being the higher authority. Trusting someone to handle big challenges, knowing that you will witness their mistakes unfolding but still trusting that they will get themselves back up and succeed with the help of your guidance is never an easy feat. But it is a risk you have to take because as a leader, you want to see people grow and you cannot do that if you put them on a leash.”
When was your most memorable Celadon event? Kwento please.
AT: “I must say it’s the recently-concluded Rose Sale. It set the bar high for all the succeeding Rose Sales to come. I’m really proud of how it was envisioned all the way to its execution. It also faced a lot of challenges and difficulties, but it also had a lot of its firsts – from the sponsors, photobooth, heart-shaped balloons to the legit promos and impact to not just the Celadoneans, but to the entire Atenean community.
“However, the success of a project isn’t solely based on how grand it was or how much money it earned. It’s about leading and empowering the people working for it, helping them grow to become better than when they first applied. It was really memorable because I saw how the project heads nor the committee heads didn’t take in all the work. They were able to effectively share their vision to the core of how they wanted the project to be. It wasn’t all work and no fun. They knew how to engage everyone. They trusted one another enough to delegate the tasks needed to be accomplished. Everybody did their part and didn’t disappoint. Everyone had his/her fair share of the stress, the pressure of pulling off this off, and sense of involvement in the project. At the end of the day, they’ve made friendships bounded by their memorable Rose Sale experience of sharing love, love, and really just love. They reminded me that as much as we’re in this org to fulfill the duties and responsibilities that we signed up for, we’re also here to grow and let grow. To love and let love. And to make lifelong memories with the people we’ve chose to call family.”
IT: “My most memorable Celadon event would be the recent Spring Film Festival. It was actually my first SFF in the three years I’m with Celadon. I got to meet and talk to a lot of new people that day and I even got to see Fr. Jett for the first time! What was most interesting was seeing the enthusiasm in the faces of everyone there, the volunteers, the core team and EB, and the guests too. Everyone was having a good time, it didn’t feel like work. Plus, seeing everyone in yellow was definitely a sight to behold. Truly, a stunner!”
Has there been anyone special to you during your Celadon journey?
AT: “For me, the people I found truly essential and integral in my Celadon journey are not just my co-EB or friends but everyone in this org who believed in me—my capabilities and possibilities—from the very start. I owe my drive for this org to the people who continuously believe and support me in whatever I do in this org. They give me the why’s to why I do the things I do and sacrifice for this org. They inspire me to answer the how’s and where’s to how I choose to lead and where I want to lead them. And lastly, they answer the who’s whenever I ask myself to whom I’m doing all of this for.”
IT: “Yes, there are, two actually. It’s only been recent that I got to know the two of them better but they both taught me the value of listening and being mindful to the feelings and well-being of others. It’s hard to take the time to step back and see how others are truly doing, especially when we have our own things do deal with. But we have to ask ourselves, are the motions of everyday normalcy truly the same as the reality that we all face? Cura personalis. It’s much easier said than done. It is almost always something we fail to do amidst this ignorant and face-paced lifestyle. But you never know, maybe that one ‘How are you?’ is all it takes to make a difference.”
Where do you see Celadon in 5 years?
AT: “I see Celadon better than it ever was. It can now compete with not just the organizations inside the Ateneo but also with all the big organizations outside. I see it having an environment where it’s still essentially a home for its members—where it’s ok to chill, have fun, and take a break from all the stress in academics/life. But at the same time, it’s also an environment where the members will be molded to becoming the future Celadon leaders celebrating and sharing the modern Chinese-Filipino culture that the organization is advocating for.”
IT: “I see Celadon stronger and better in 5 years. The pool of younger individuals in Celadon are definitely some people of the most hardworking and capable that we should look out for. The talent that these kids (even if the sophomores and freshies this year are about the same age as me, a junior) possess are already innate to them. With the help of the projects lined up in Celadon, I’m sure it will be about time that they show the whole Ateneo community what they have up their sleeves.”
Interview conducted by Joel Lim
Get to know the rest of the EB!