After 8 years in the AGS (Ateneo Grade School / http), I finally entered the Ateneo High School in 1983. There was a somber mood at the start, as the whole nation was still reeling from the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., but soon that was almost forgotten with the hustle and bustle of student life.
The AHS (Ateneo High School) campus was just a few hundred meters away from the AGS, but the lay of the campus was very much different. The AHS is situated on a gentle sloping hill with neatly rowed trees by the gridded layout of classrooms, which is a stark difference from the rolling hills and seemingly forested campus of the AGS.
From the driveway/parking lot, the AHS campus seems to be split in half by the wide open space, which has been named as the Promenade of Our Lady in 2005. At the front of the promenade are the last lines of the Ateneo Alma Mater Hymn etched in concrete: “Mary, for you. For your White and Blue! We pray, you keep us Mary, constantly true; We pray, you keep us Mary, faithful to you!” At the sides of the promenade are the classrooms of the senior high school students, but these were the freshmen classrooms when I was studying here. At the end of the promenade is the AHS chapel.
In front of the AHS chapel is Anastacio Caedo’s 1957 sculpture of the Immaculate Concepcion with a Atenean Student. As I had mentioned in the previous article, Anastacio Caedo was a prominent classicist sculptor, who began his career in the latter part of the American Occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946). He was an avid body builder, which aided in his astute knowledge of the human body and proportions which were highly valued by the Jesuits in their commissions of Caedo’s works. Aside from being a sculptor, Caedo is also noted for being the model of the famous “Oblation” found at the nearby University of the Philippines.
Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990) graduated from U.P. School of Fine Arts; under the tutelage of National Artist, Guillermo E. Tolentino. During his apprenticeship under Tolentino, the two took to body building as a means to understand the human anataomy and strengthen their bodies for he very physical work of sculpture. This love for body building led Tolentino to fashion his opus “The Oblation” after Caedo’s physique. Later Caedo made name for himself by sculpting many religious works for the Jesuits at the Ateneo de Manila and busts of the National Hero Dr. José Rizal for many of the Philippine Embassies around the world. Caedo was nominated three times as a National Artist of the Philippines (in 1983, 1984, and 1986); which he turned down, to avoid the politics in the art world.
One of the first buildings to be erected in the AHS is the St. Stanislaus Kostka Chapel, which was completed in 1951.
The St. Kostka Chapel has gone through several renovations in the past, and one of themost notable additions are Juan Sajid Imao’s 2008 brass on wood doors, entitled “The Seven I Am’s”, which were inspired from a passage from the Gospel of St. John. If Caedo was the premiere sculptor favored by the Jesuits in the late 20th century, Imao was to be the artist of choice for this early part of the 21st Century. Aside from being a very talented artist, Imao is also am man running out of time, as he is slowly losing his eyesight due to a genetic defect. He was able to complete his commissions to the Ateneo with less than 50% of his vision.
Juan Sajid de Leon Imao(born 1972) is the second to the youngest son of Abdulmari Asia Imao (1936-2014), the first Moslem National Artist of the Philippines. Sajid, would go on to take up sculpture at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts (CFA), just like his father. Early on in his career, Imao was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), which would slowly diminish his eyesight. Although this would mean the death of any artist, Sajid took this as a challenge to continue making sculptures. This lead to many awards, such as the 2001 Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award.
Inside the St. Kostka Chapel is the retablo (altarpiece) designed by Fr. Rene Javellana, Justino ‘Paloy’ Cagayat and Alan Nakpil, in 2011. And at the center of the retablo is Anastacio Caedo’s 1951 Crucifix. At the Choir Loft, are the statues of the Immaculate Concepcion and Caedo’s 1951 sculpture of St. Stanislaus Kostka, a Jesuit saint.
Justino ‘Paloy‘ A. Cagayat Jr. (1960) is a third-generation woodcarver from Paete, Laguna. Cagayat graduated from the Mapua Institute of Technology with a degree and license in Mining Engineering, but he opted to return to his hometown and continue the tradition of wood carving. Cagayat was already known in Paete, when he gain fame for sculpting the fictional “Machete” used in the movies that starred Cesar Montano in 1990 and Gardo Versoza in 1993.
The tabernacle of the St. Kostka Chapel is another brass and wood piece by Juan Sajid Imao, which he completed in 2011.
Behind the St. Kostka Chapel is the AHS Covered Courts; where we hold our basketball intramurals, physical education classes, AHS general assemblies, school concerts, and Ateneo Alumni Grand Homecoming every December.
At one end of the AHS campus is the AHS Cafeteria, which now has a sprawling plaza with a fountain for the students to hangout under the trees. During my time, the cafeteria just served food prepared by the staff with some snacks and softdrinks (colas) for sale. Now-a-days they have a wide array of choice, including fast-food brands such as Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.
Behind the cafeteria is the AHS Track-and-Field Oval and Soccer Field, which is situated on an elevated plane. I remember my father telling us about the time his classmates wanted to teach another classmate not to brag about his sports car, which he brought everyday to school. So they hauled the car up the field, and left it there. The poor fellow had to stay with his car throughout the night, because he was frightened to drive it down to the parking lot, lest he scrapes the bottom of his car against the steep slope of the field.
At the end of the Soccer Field and AHS Parking Lot is the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center, which was design and completed by Architect Jose Recio in 2001. The gym is named after the multi-awarded Ateneo alumnus Luis Francisco “Moro” Lorenzo (1928-97), who played for the Blue Eagles (the collegiate basketball team) and Philippine National Team at the 1951 Asian Games.
At the front of the gym is Juan Sajid Imao’s 2001 sculpture Luis Francisco ‘Moro’ Lorenzo.
At the end of the cafeteria and facing the AHS parking lot is the Tanghalang Onofre Pagsanghan (Onofre Pagsanghan Theater). Named after the teacher Onofre R. Pagsanghan (born 1927), he started teaching at the AHS in 1951 and continues to do so despite being 20 years past the retirement age. In 1956, he formed the Dulaang Sibol (roughly translated as “Blooming Theater”), which would be the theater group of the high school students.
At the corner of the entrance of the Tanghalang Onofre Pagsanghan is a cast of the Our Lady of the Poor, taken from the sculpture from Bueno, Germany, and installed at the AGS in 1985. This copy was installed in 2007.
At the other end of the AHS Cafeteria and nearing the Grade 10 wing is Juan Sajid Imao’s 1997 sculpture of a Young José Rizal. A propagandist who wrote about the abuses during the Spanish Occupation of the Philippines (1523-1898), José Rizal is a graduate of the Ateneo and the Philippine National Hero.
Behind the AHS Administrative Building is a walkway that leads to the newly constructed AHS Art Pavilion. This serves a workshop area for the art classes in the AHS, and doubles as an exhibition space for the students’ creative works.
Nearby the AHS Art Pavillon is Julie Lluch’s sculpture of Saint Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Julie Lluch is a third generation modernist sculptor (1970s), whose hyper-realistic sculptures of feminist issues in terracotta brought her acclaim both locally and internationally. She was once married to the social-realist Danny Dalena, and they had produce three daughters who are now all artists in different fields.
Julie Lluch (1946) was born in Iligan; and she has been a stalwart in feminist art since the 1970s. First known for her life-size terracotta sculptures of herself, representing various issues and statements on a Filipina’s life, Julie has then moved on to experiments in film, as well as public sculpture made of bronze. She married fellow artist, Danny Dalena; and they had three daughters, whom they call the Tres Marias (three Marias). In 1990, she was recognized with the Thirteen Artist Award.
Another statue near the AHS Administration Building is a cast copy of Anastacio Caedo’s 1951 sculpture of St. Stanislaus Kostka, where the original can be found in the AHS chapel.
Aside from the many artworks and park-like ambience of the AHS, another boon to the Ateneo experience is the breathtaking view of the Marikina Valley, and the rolling hills of the Loyola Memorial Park (http). Somehow this balances out the intensive lesson that the Ateneo is known for, making the whole student experience a little well rounded.
*My special thanks to people who have helped me in documenting art and architecture of the AHS, and helped me in identifying the great artists and architects behind these pieces:
Dr. Carmela C. Oracion
Principal, Ateneo High School
Fr. Rene B. Javellana S.J.
Art Management Coordinator, Ateneo de Manila