Quezon City: The Jesuit Life in the Ateneo de Manila University

01 1949 Blue Eagle Gym, Ateneo De Manila 2
1949 Blue Eagle Gym, Ateneo De Manila

Driving northbound along Katipunan Avenue coming from the White Plains/Blue Ridge areas, the first thing you see as you descend the Katipunan Flyover Bridge is the gigantic Blue Eagle adorning the Ateneo Gym. Built in 1949, the Blue Eagle Gym, as it is now called, was one of the first buildings constructed when the Ateneo de Manila decided to move from the war torn Padre Faura campus in Manila, to the rolling hills of Quezon City (then still a part of the Municipality of Marikina).

03 1899 Felix Roxas Sr. & Isabelo Tampinco -  San Ignacio Church of Intramuros
1899 Felix Roxas Sr. & Isabelo Tampinco – San Ignacio Church, Ateneo de Manila, Intramuros

Arch. Felix Arroyo Roxas (1820-1890) first traveled around the world, from India to England, France and Spain; before taking his studies at the Real Academia de Notables Artes de San Fernando, Madrid. A few years after his return to the Philippines, Roxas was appointed interim head of the Public Works Office. There, Roxas was responsible for the enlargement and reconstruction of the parish church of Bacoor, Cavite, and for the Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros, built after the 1863 earthquake. Roxas designed the the Jesuit church of San Ignacio in Intramuros in 1877.

1899 Isabelo Tampinco - San Ignacio Church, Intramuros
1899 Isabelo Tampinco – San Ignacio Church, Intramuros

Established in 1859 as the Escuela Municipal de Manila, in the walled city of Intramuros in Manila, the school had grown quite considerably and was finally named the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in 1959.

Isabelo Lacondola Tampinco  (1850-1933) was a classicist sculptor who was practicing before art was taught in the formal setting of tertiary educational institutions. A Chinese-mestizo who was born in Binondo, his family has traced their roots to the former ruler of Manila, Datu Lakadula. He was trained at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura; and he was also classmates with the José Rizal, at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. Tampinco was the favored artist of the Jesuits during the late 19th century, as we was commissioned to carve the religious icons and decorative motifs of the San Ignacio Church of Intramuros, from 1892 to 1899. This is high relief screen from San Ignacio, which was saved from the fire that gutted the church in 1932. He has also created works for the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and the Santo Domingo Church. His works have represented the Philippines in various international events; such as Exposicion Universal de Barcelona (1888), Exposición Regional de Filipinas (1895), and the St. Louis Exposition (1904). He was also awarded the Mérito Civil from Governor-General Domingo Moriones, close to the end of the Spanish occupation (1521-1898).

04 1965-67 Felix Mendoza - Colegio de San Jose, as San Jose Seminary

Run by the Society of Jesus (SJ), the Ateneo is a shining sample of Jesuit education in the Philippines. Not only does the Ateneo offer elementary, secondary, and tertiary education; but it has been a beacon for many a young man to enter the Jesuit order. This is most evident by the presence of the Colegio de San Jose or San Jose Major Seminary, which is found in the back slopes of the Ateneo campus. Designed by Architect Felix Mendoza and completed in 1967, the San Jose Seminary is the second home to Jesuit aspirants, aside from the Sacred Heart Novitiate in far off Novaliches.

Arch. Felipe Marcelo Mendoza (1917-2000) graduated from the Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT), where he later taught, from 1946-1965. Mendoza would later teach at the University of the Philippines, but his stint would last only two years. Mendoza served two terms as president of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP),where he would draft the Architect’s National Code and the UAP General Conditions. Mendoza also served as president of the Philippine Institute of Architects in 1965, the United Technological Organizations of the Philippines in 1965, and the Philippine Federation of Professional Associations in 1981. Mendoza was also active with the Architects’ Regional Council Asia. Mendoza received the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila in 1976, and the first recipient of the UAP Likha Award and Gold Medal of Merit in 1982.

05 1945-50 Anastacio Caedo - Saint Joseph, The Carpenter, San Jose Major Seminary 1
1945-50 Anastacio Caedo – Saint Joseph, The Carpenter

Facing the entrance of the San Jose Seminary is Anastacio Caedo’s 1945-50 sculpture of “Saint Joseph, The Carpenter”; which would refer to the principle of St. Joseph as the Nutritor Domini (educator/guardian of the Lord) with would relate to the Jesuit education.

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.

05 1985 Our Lady of the Poor from Beuno, Germany, San Jose Seminary 2
1985 Our Lady of the Poor from Beuno, Germany

Hidden near the thick forest greens that surround the San Jose Seminary is a small grove dedicated to Our Lady of the Poor, which was patterned from a statue from Beuno, Germany. This statue has been replicated throughout the ADMU, with copies in the Grade School (AGS) and High School (AHS); which were all installed between 1985 and 1990.

06 1956 Jose R. Vergara - Saint Ignatius of Loyola 1
1956 Jose R. Vergara – Saint Ignatius of Loyola

The Society of Jesus was formed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), who developed an educational philosophy to help develop society as deemed proper in the eyes of God. This is clearly illustrated in the Ratio Studiorum, the Jesuit manual of education. Near the Ateneo Grade School stands Jose R. Vergara’s 1956 sculpture of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Sad to say, the sword of saint Ignatius is no longer the original, as generations of souvenir hunting Ateneans have stolen the swords and its replacements, especially after graduation. The latest sword is welded and chained to ensure that there are no more thefts.

07 1963 Manila Observatory, Observatorio Meteorológico del Ateneo Municipal de Manila 1
1963 Manila Observatory, Observatorio Meteorológico del Ateneo Municipal de Manila

The Saint Ignatius monument stands in front of the Observatorio Meteorológico del Ateneo Municipal de Manila or the Manila Observatory; which stands as a testimony of the Jesuit principles of a balanced education that includes the sciences, arts, and theology. The Manila Observatory was built in 1963.

Up the road from the San Jose Seminary are the Loyola House of Studies and the Loyola School of Theology and Philosophy, where the young Jesuit novices are prepared for the priesthood.  Both buildings were designed by Arch. Gines Rivera in 1965, who had been tasked to design most of the buildings in the post war campus.

At the perimeter of the Loyola House of Studies, there is the Stations of the Cross on the fence around the western garden. I have yet to identify the creator of these plaques, but I can assume that there were mass-produced pieces.

Loyola House of Studies, Mary the Queen and the Infant Jesus

Aside from the Stations of the Cross, there many places to silently contemplate outside the Loyola House of Studies’ exterior. At the center of the parking lot, there are a set of benches surrounding a plaque of Mary the Queen and the Infant Jesus.

Upon finally entering the Loyola House of Studies, there are so many figures of saints, however only one piece has any marking of the maker.There are two wooden pieces, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sagrada Familia, which look like works of Paete carvers, and if that is so, these may be the works of Luisito Ac-ac or Justino Cagayat Jr., who both have done works for the Ateneo before.

San Ignacio de Loyola

One interesting piece, in the Loyola House of Studies, is a statue of San Ignacio de Loyola; which is a replica found at the Colegio de San Ildefonso that was created in the 1700s.

Bellezza Casa Designs, Inc. – Jesus is My Sanctuary
Fr. Rene B. Javellana SJ & Fr. Jason Dy SJ – Kindling the Fire

At the Theology Garden of the Loyola House of Studies, there is a statue of St. Ignatius’ Vision at the River Cardoner. Entitled “Kindling the Fire“, the sculpture was designed by Fr. Rene B. Javillana, SJ, and the tile work was designed by Fr. Jason Dy, SJ. The whole piece was executed by Conrado de Leon’s House of Precast.

Mary & St. Joseph, donated by Ernest Escaler

At the rear end of the Theology Garden are two statues of Mary and Saint Joseph, which were donated by Ernest Escaler, formerly found in Sanctuary at Gourmet Cafe, Silang, Cavite.

09 1965 Gines Rivera - Loyola House of Studies and the Loyola School of Theology and Philosophy 2
A view of the Marikina Valley from Loyola House of Studies

There are much more artworks within the walls of the Loyola House of Studies, but these are not open to all the public, rather it is reserved for the Jesuit priests and the seminarians to experience (such as a hidden mural by the Angono painter, Jose Blanco). So I just reveled in the fantastic view of the Marikina Valley, from their parking lot.

Beside the Loyola House of Studies is the RMT Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM), which is named after Rev. Ruben M. Tanseco, S.J., who is the president of the CEFAM, and spiritual director of the Marriage Encounter Foundation of the Philippines (MEFP), Christian Parenting for Peace and Justice Foundation (CPPJ), Marriage Preparation Foundation, and Magis Deo Community.

10 1951 Gines Rivera - Jesuit Residence, Ateneo De Manila
1951 Gines Rivera – Jesuit Residence

Driving up the road and turning towards the Ateneo High School is the Jesuit Residence, for the priests who act as teachers and administrators of the ADMU. Completed in 1951, the residence was also designed by Arch. Gines Rivera.

11 1916 (1895) St. Joseph with the child Jesus, tranferred to the Jesuit Residence in 1955 a
1916 (created in 1895) St. Joseph with the child Jesus, transferred to the Jesuit Residence in 1955

In the garden in front of the Jesuit Residence is an 1895 sculpture of St. Joseph with the child Jesus, which was installed in the Manila campus in 1916; and subsequently transferred to the Quezon City campus in 1955. This statue was said to be made in Europe, with the sculptor unidentified to this day.

1916 St. Joseph with the child Jesus (1895), at the Ateneo campus in Padre Faura, Manila
12 1916 St. Joseph with the child Jesus, tranferred to the Jesuit Residence in 1955 c
Guardian lions at the Jesuit Residence

Flanking the statue of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus are two concrete lions, which may be protecting the Jesuit priests from unruly students who accidentally stray into the Jesuit Residence.

13 2001-02 Jose Pedro Recio and Carmelo Casas - Church of the Gesù 1
2001-02 Jose Pedro Recio and Carmelo Casas – Church of the Gesù

Finally, the latest symbol of the Jesuit life in the Ateneo de Manila is the Church of the Gesù; which was designed and constructed by Architects Jose Pedro Recio and Carmelo Casas, between 2001 and 2002. Before its construction, masses for the whole Ateneo community were held in the small chapels of the AGS, AHS or college, or in the gyms of the AHS. However, residents of the dorms and the Jesuit residences had to attend the Sunday mass outside the campus. The Church of the Gesù is now one of the churches in the Katipunan area for all visitors, and acts as a quite place of contemplation during the regular days of the week.

1930s Ateneo de Manila, Padre Faura
1930s Ateneo de Manila, Padre Faura

1949 Loyola Heights

*My special thanks to Fr. Rene B. Javellana S.J., Art Management Coordinator of the Ateneo de Manila, who has helped me in documenting art and architecture of the ADMU, and helped me in identifying the great artists and architects behind these pieces

44 thoughts on “Quezon City: The Jesuit Life in the Ateneo de Manila University

  1. Thank you for your articles on the Ateneo. The Loyola Heights campus, most especially the AGS, was such an important part of our childhood. My parents, Dr. Jesus C. Palma and Mrs. Leonida Palma met at the AGS and subsequently married. We three girl practically grew up at the AGS as our parents spent most of their time there. We had no brothers but we considered the grade school boys our ‘brothers’. Had we been boys, we would have surely been a part of the student body but then again, we three girls were at most First communions, annual plays, summer tours, and even boy scout campings! I feel we received as much formation on Ignatian and teachings as the young students our age did. We were fortunate to cross over the creek to finally fulfill our parents’ goal for us. All three of us graduated from the college. My sisters in their various roles also taught at the AGS and at the college. At this writing, my second sister just successfully defended her doctorate thesis for the psychology department after which, she will continue to work at the Ateneo. While reading your piece and looking at the nostalgic photos I fondly reminisce happy times. Indeed many years have passed and though both our parents have gone, my sisters and I take some solace in knowing that their spirit lives on within the AGS’ walls and in the students whose lives they have touched. Even in the changing face of time, the Ateneo and all that it stands for has been and will always be a constant, unwavering beacon. AMDG


    1. Good day Irene,

      I am very elated that my articles have brought you joy. Your parents were my teachers in the 1970s, and I am glad that these simple articles are a means to give back to my alma mater, as well as all the people from the ADMU.

      Salamat at samuli


  2. Last week I visited “Contemplation”, the set about the 4 weeks of St Ignatius´ retreat besides Jesù Church there. I would like to have pictures and the text of the explanations. I found it so good! Thank You!


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