Quezon City: The Ateneo Grade School Heritage Room

Last February 2016, I was invited by the AGS (Ateneo Grade School) to give a series of talks to their faculty and students about my research on Public Art. The talks were to be conducted at the Heritage Room, which serves as a gallery and museum for the AGS. These talks were part of the AGS’ contribution to the February National Arts Month celebrations. Dubbed “Linggo ng Musika, Sipag at Paggawa” (A Week of Music, Perseverance, and Creation); I brought along two artists, Frederic Caedo and Juan Sajid Imao, to share their experiences with the AGS students.

01 2016 02 22 Frederico Caedo 3
Frederico Caedo demonstrating “Live Casting” to the AGS students

Fred Caedo is a third generation sculptor; whose father, Anastacio Caedo, created many of the 20th century monuments found in the Ateneo de Manila. Juan Sajid Imao is a second generation sculptor and son of the National Artist for Sculpture, Abdul-Mari Imao; Sajid in turn has made many of the 21st century sculptures within the Ateneo.

02 20160223_115941
Having a “groupie”with Juan Sajid Imao and the AGS students

The Heritage Room was constructed our of an old stock room, which was part of the original AGS Auditorium, built by Arch. Gines Rivera, around 1954. The Auditorium was renovated in 2008, and named the Mariano S. Singson, Jr. Hall, after the ACT (Ateneo Children’s Theater) director and teacher. The rear part of the theater, was converted into the Heritage Room.

12 1950s ACT Auditorium (Mariano S. Singson, Jr. Hall 2008) 1
1950s ACT Auditorium

Upon entering the Heritage Room, the first things one will notice are the Portraits of the Headmasters of the AGS. These paintings used to hand in the AGS Administration Offices, but the collection grew too big and the offices were running out of space. The first set of portraits were created by Araceli Limcaco Dans, between 1961 and 1962, a second generation modern realist; who taught in the AGS in the 1960s.

04 AGS Headmasters 1 lt

Rev. William F. Jordan, S.J.

Headmaster 1929-31

by Norman Sustiguer, 2008

Rev. Henry L. Irwin, S.J.

Headmaster 1931-35

by Norman Sustiguer, 2008

Rev. Luis G. Pacquin, S.J.

Headmaster 1936-45

by Araceli Limcaco Dans, 1962

Rev. Paul V. Bartolome, S.J.

Headmaster 1946-48

by Ben Hur Villanueva, 1980

Araceli LimcacoDans (1929) first took he art class at the  Sta. Rosa College, then continued at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) School of Fine Arts. After graduating, she started teaching at the Philippine Women’s University and the Art Department of the Ateneo Grade School. At the Ateneo, Limcaco-Dans also taught art on an Ateneo Educational Television program. Along with Brenda Fajardo (1940), she started the Philippine Art Educators’ Association (PAEA). With experience in art education, Limcaco-Dans was honored Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Awards, Citizen’s Award for Television, and the Mariang Maya Awards. A prolific painter, Limcaco-Dans is most known for her intricately rendered painting that feature calado, a lacy fabric; which is her own personal means of exhibiting a Filipino style of art.

The second set of portraits were created by Ben-Hur G. Villanueva, a modernist sculptor from Baguio City; who taught in the AGS in the 1970s to the 1990s.

05 AGS Headmasters 2 lt

Rev. Maximo S. David, S.J.

Headmaster 1948-54

by Araceli Limcaco Dans, 1962

Rev. Aureo G. Nepomuceno, S.J.

Headmaster 1954-57

by Araceli Limcaco Dans, 1962

Rev. Andrew F. Cervini, S.J.

Headmaster 1957-58

by Araceli Limcaco Dans, 1962

Rev. Luis G. Candelaria, S.J.

Headmaster 1958-62

by Araceli Limcaco Dans, 1962

Ben-Hur Gorospe Villanueva (1938) is a sculptor from Baguio City. Before going full time into his art, Villanueva taught at the Ateneo de Manila Grade School for 30 years, before retiring in 1992. Villanueva was also president for the Society of Philippine Sculptors (SPS), the Art Director for the Ephpheta Foundation for the Blind, Inc., and vice president-treasurer for Unesco’s International Art Association (IAA). After retiring from teaching, Villanueva returned to Baguio, where he opened his arts workshop, Arko Ni Apo (Ark of the Lord), which serves to teach local communities various art skills.

After Mr. Villanueva retired, the AGS hired the portrait artist, Norman Sustiguer, to complete the rest of the gallery of headmasters 2000 and 2013.

06 AGS Headmasters 3 lt

Rev. Manuel C. Ragalado, S.J.

Headmaster 1962-64

by Araceli Limcaco Dans, 1961

Rev. Rodolfo A. Malasmas, S.J.

Headmaster 1964-75

by Ben Hur Villanueva, 1975

Rev. Santos Ma. Giron, S.J.

Headmaster 1975-77

by Ben Hur Villanueva, 1977

Rev. Asterio J. Katigbak, S.J.

Headmaster 1977-92

by Ben Hur Villanueva, 1991

Since 1929, all the headmasters of the AGS have been Jesuit priests, and it was in only in 2014 has a lay person become headmaster in the person of Jose Antonio P. Salvador. Presently there is no portrait of Mr. Salvador, so I wonder if Norman Sustiguer will continue doing the next set of portraits.

07 AGS Headmasters 4 lt

Rev. Florencio R. Cuerquis, S.J.

Headmaster 1992-98

by Ben Hur Villanueva, 1998

Rev. Carmelo A. Caluag II, S.J.

Headmaster 1998-2000

by Norman Sustiguer, 2000

Rev. Antonio C. Pabayo, S.J.

Headmaster 1999

by Norman Sustiguer, 2000

Rev. Jose Moises T. Femin, S.J.

Headmaster 2001-2008

by Norman Sustiguer, 2008

Rev. Norberto Ma. L. Bautista, S.J.

Headmaster 2008-14

by Norman Sustiguer, 2013

At the end of the Heritage Room, there is a wooden wall with brass letters, in which are written “Memories from Ateneo’s past speak from the walls of this concrete fabric of time, of glorious stories told, awaiting stories to be told – A heritage for our future”.

08 2007 AGS Heritage Room

Below the memorial is a 2010 sculpture of “Our Holy Guardian Angel”, created and donated by Ben-Hur Villanueva. He donated this sculpture during the 2010 AGS faculty reunion.

09 2010 Ben-Hur G. Villanueva - Our Holy Guardian Angel 3
2010 Ben-Hur G. Villanueva – Our Holy Guardian Angel

At the other end of the Heritage Room is the Ateneo Grade School Timeline Wall, which is a digital collage created by the science teacher and photography buff, Nestor Santiago (retired), in 2007.

10 2007 AGS Timeline Wall
AGS Timeline Wall

Beside the Timeline Wall Is the Wall of Distinguished Service, which lists the names of AGS faculty and staff who have served in the Ateneo for 25 years or more.

11 2007 The Wall of Distinguished Service 0
The Wall of Distinguished Service

During my visit, my old practical arts teacher, Mr. Fred Laureles came over to listen to my talk. Although he was long retired from the AGS, he took the time to see how his former student has fared after all those years. It was truly an honor to have him in the audience. He also had a jolly time looking at his name written on the Wall of Distinguished Service.

12 2016 02 22 Fred Laureles 2
A selfie with my old Practical Arts teacher, Fred Laureles

Flank both sides of the Wall of Distinguished Service are the 2009 wooden statues of the Immaculate Conception and of St. Ignatius de Loyola; which were created by the sculptors from the carvers’ town of Paete, Laguna Province.

13 2007-09 Paete Sculptors - Immaculate Conception & St. Ignatius lt
2007-09 Paete Sculptors – Immaculate Conception & St. Ignatius

Stepping out of the Heritage Room, and on to the AGS driveway, I looked above to see Anastacio Caedo’s 1954 relief of “Jesus and the Children”; whose image of Atenean students and other children playing around Jesus Christ reminded of my experiences as a student of the AGS. This made me think of a uniting all Ateneo alumni artists for a homecoming exhibit at the AGS Heritage Room.

10 1954 Gines Rivera - Ateneo Grade School 1
1954 Arch. Gines Rivera – Ateneo Grade School Entrance

Who knows, maybe I will be able to pull that off one of these days.

*My special thanks to people who have helped me in documenting art and architecture of the AGS, and helped me in identifying the great artists behind these pieces:

Mr. Jose Antonio P. Salvador

Headmaster, Ateneo Grade School

Ms. Ma. Eufronita M. Marbella

Arts Coordinator, Ateneo Grade School


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