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 happy-go-lucky trio behind Celadon’s Human Resources Department (HR): Vice-President (VP) Isaac Cheung, and Associate Vice-Presidents (AVP) Timothy Ching and Yssa Yu!
What made you want to become a Celadon leader?
Isaac Cheung (IC): “The people. The people are the flesh and blood of this organization. I have been part of 8 other organizations. Some of them are even more competent in terms of their systems, leaders, and competencies (sorry, Celadon). But why did I stay if i could joined better organizations?
“Well, the answer should be obvious, it was and still is the people in this organization. Celadon is number one in making you feel at home, and Celadon is number one in making you feel significant in a vast sea of people. Celadon is number one in making your heart strings cry with joy. Celadon is home.
“I became a leader in Celadon because I wanted to give back to the wonderful family I have found here. Of all the organizations, none of them have the bubbly, warm Celadon atmosphere that will instantly make you fall in love with its competencies and its people.”
Timothy Ching (TC): “When I was in my second year, I thought it would be nice if I gave my service to Celadon. It is after all an org that has formed me so much. In it, I met a lot of good friends, got a lot of experiences and with it learned a lot of things. Basically, I wanted to be a part of the projects rather than being just another participant.
“During that time, aside from being an active member of Celadon, I was also active in projects under the then Communications and Publications (C&P) department and was a part of the Ads Team.
“With all the work I had done together with the C&P VP, I had an inside look on how the org functioned and of course, a great new mentor to teach me how things went. A few weeks later, she asked me if I had plans, and quite frankly I did, but a vague one.
“She guided and mentored me on how to deal with different problems and how to do things. And of course with it, a suggestion to run for her position in the upcoming elections. Seeing as it is my chance to finally be a part of something grand, I took her advice and ran for VP of C&P.”
Yssa Yu (YY): “During my first year in college, I didn’t really focus on any of my organizations, including Celadon. After joining the Junior Manager Program and the Leadership development Program during the first semester, I hardly showed up already because I focused on my academics.
“I’m not saying that it’s wrong to focus on your academics, but I just didn’t realize how much I was missing out on until I became a manager for the Junior Manager Program (JuMP). During my second year, my project exposed me to a lot of things about Celadon that I have now come to love. That was also the year when I realized that Celadon is somewhere I want to stay and is something that is worth spending time in. I enjoyed the feeling of seeing and helping people grow and become the best they can be; therefore, I decided to run for the position of AVP for Leadership Formation under my home department, HR.”
Summarize leadership in one sentence.
IC: “As John Maxwell said, ‘Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.'”
TC: “Leadership is to teach and learn at the same time.”
YY: “Leadership is something that, when paired with the right work ethics, stirs a ship and all of its passengers in the right direction.”
What was the biggest leap/risk that you’ve had to take as a leader?
IC: “Giving up JTA, to run as VP for HR. This was probably one of the biggest decisions I made for Celadon. To this day, I can’t help but imagine how differently things would have been if I went on for JTA. But after meeting the new members and the freshmen, I can honestly say it was a pretty good trade-off.”
TC: “Perhaps it would be to trust. No, really. As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that a project goes flawlessly. And a successful project requires a team that knows its limits and can handle things objectively and efficiently.”
YY: “The biggest leap I have made as a leader was actually that first real step I took in engaging myself into Celadon work. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I applied to become a manager for one of the two Leadership Formation projects of the organization. JuMP was the first project I applied for in Celadon, and the fact that I was planning it first-hand scared me because of the responsibility of having to train 60 participants in a matter of 7 sessions. I was afraid to make a mistake, but I kept in mind the people I was doing the project for and what I hoped to see at the end of the project. In the end, I think the leap was worth it, and the impact of this on me is one of the things that pushed me to pursue Celadon even more.”
When was your most memorable Celadon event? Kwento please.
IC: “It’s difficult for me to pinpoint one memory, since every single moment in Celadon is extremely memorable. But one of the most vivid memories in my Celadon journey was probably during Spring Film Festival. It is and still is my favorite project in Celadon. It was my first project to core in Celadon as a freshman and it was the only Celadon project I knew going into college. (I watched during my 2nd year in high school) It was the project that allowed me to jumpstart my Celadon life and journey. Ultimately, it was the project that made me feel part of the Celadon family.”
TC: “It would be the Mid Autumn Festival 2013-2014. It may be the best MAF I’ve seen in my entire College stay, and it is also the project that really made me stay in Celadon.
“Despite its flaws, it showed me that the people in this org, the officers, and my core team colleagues were capable of teamwork, initiative, and most importantly – family. They guided me as a newbie who didn’t know how things went, and showed concern to those who needed it even outside the bounds of the project. (Many of my colleagues ended up being my really close friends after.)
“Aside from the team, I also felt something really empowering. MAF 2013-2014 was also the first project where I felt the impact of my contributions. No matter how small it was, it made me feel proud, it gave a sense of importance to my contribution and to the org newbie, that’s what really matters.”
YY: “In all honesty, there are a lot of Celadon events that are memorable to me, but if I had to pick one, the most memorable would be this year’s Leadership Development Program (LDP): Ascend.
“I’ve been to every LDP since my first year, and I can definitely say that Ascend was an LDP that was very different. From the planning phase itself, I could tell that the team is really out to make the best LDP they can, despite given the challenge of being the first team to plan for a three day event outside school. You can really see the energy of the team when talking about and working on the project. They really stress over all the details to make everything as best as they can for the event itself.
“During the event, everyone (the core, the EB and the participants) was “game” to do everything we planned for the event. From the wildest chases to the most solemn conversations, I could really feel that there was something special. Despite wind and rain, everyone kept going. The comradery between all the people in the event was a joy to see. Hearing them share about how the program made them feel made my heart melt instantly. In addition to that, I think that the presence of our adult supervisors (Drew and Justin Santos) was the cherry on top of the overall LDP experience because their energy and the insights they’ve shared were irreplaceable. Everyone learned not only about leadership, but also about family.
“Home (or 家) is a principle that Celadon has been trying to convey through its events this school year, and I can definitely say that those who have gone through Ascend have found a home in the org and a family that they would keep. Hugs were shared; tears were shed. This is what I think is the LDP magic, and this magic still radiates through the participants up to this day.”
Has there been anyone special to you during your Celadon journey?
IC: “Everyone has been vital and significant to me in my Celadon journey, to only name a few is a huge travesty. Although for the sake of this question I will answer it to the best of my abilities.
“The Executive Board this year has been a huge influence in my journey. Working with these bunch is simply a joy, and watching them grow and develop into fantastic leaders is simply inspiring.
“Mazie Lim, the Celadon President 2 years back, never gave up on me. I was a confused freshie at that time not knowing what org to be active in. She never stopped encouraging me to join projects and be part of Celadon events.
“EG Dizon, Stephanie Sayson, Aldwyn Tan, Kimball Tan, Belrica Ma are my oldest and longest Celadon friends. There were there for me when I needed support, there were there when I needed guidance, and there were the friends that stood by my side when people doubted me.
“Gem Fernandez was the VP of Cultural Affairs 2 years back, she believed in me and saw my potential to be part of the executive board during my freshmen year. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have left Celadon a long time ago.
“My anaks in my last year’s flock are a constant source of joy for me! Seeing them grow and be active in Celadon or even other orgs really gives me a sense of happiness and passion to continue working even harder!
“Lastly, it was God that allowed all these things to happen. Every single moment of success and happiness is largely due to His grace and love for me.”
TC: “Yes. A lot, actually.
“I’ll start with the EB (2014-2015, 2015-2016) these are the people who formed the leader in me. Thank you.
“Special shoutout to the last of our kind (C&P 2014-2015), Timon and pumBel, #TheJoshuaCheng, and of course Ads Queen Kathleen Calasanz, ?? 😉 ?
“My block mates who convinced me to be active in Celadon (Eg, Jerwin, Erika) and to my bros (Jesse, Joao, Kimball) who really made my stay way more fun, thank you.
“To the youngsters who made me want to extend my stay in Ateneo (Candice, Calvin, Kim ++) I love you all, you know this.
“Last but definitely not the least, the girl in green, Dianne Ashley Tan. ?
“These are the people who made my Celadon Journey the best. I couldn’t ask for more.”
YY: “I don’t think I can put my finger on a specific person for this. There are a lot of people that helped me become the Celadonean I am today. These people have comforted me, reassured me, listened to me, cheered me up and, most importantly, guided me in my Celadon journey. They are definitely people I will never forget to thank whenever I get the chance to.”
Where do you see Celadon in 5 years?
IC: “Celadon in the next 5 years I hope, will be the premier organization of the Ateneo. It will be an organization that loves and cherishes it members. It will continue to be an organization that leads in external partnerships and creating a warm environment for members to grow and develop into the leaders of tomorrow.
“Hopefully, Celadon in the future will invite me to speak for their events as well [laughs].”
TC: “To be honest, I am not really sure what will happen to Celadon 5 years from now. We’ve evolved to something no one back in my freshie year saw. We became bigger and stronger.
“Hopefully, with good leadership, Celadon can be bigger and stronger than it is now. Maybe we won’t hold our events inside Ateneo come 2020 due to the lack of space in campus. Maybe we’ll have a member count exceeding those of home orgs. Maybe we’ll have new projects and efforts, with the shift in the academic year this may be a possibility.
“What’s for sure is, Celadon will still be the homey org we’ll leave in June (to the Seniors) and Celadon will always be a place we can call home. No matter how far we go, how what new careers we’ll have, when we attend Celadon events in the future, I hope I can say: ‘It’s good to be home.'”
YY: “I think Celadon will still retain its fun, homey and culture sharing nature, but the world is constantly changing and that is why we venture out into culture sharing through different avenues. We are currently exploring culture sharing through socio-civic efforts, leadership, even publication! I really hope to see Celadon explore more possible ways to share our culture to the Filipino community and show how we Chinoys are not so different from them.”
Interview conducted by Faith Ong
Get to know the rest of the EB!