Quezon City: College Life at the Ateneo de Manila

Although I am a product of the Jesuit education in the Ateneo Grade School (AGS) and the Ateneo High School (AHS), I never opted to continue my undergraduate studies in the Ateneo College. So my experience of the campus life in the Ateneo College was through my regular visits to former classmates, my siblings and the many cousins who felt that it was “customary” that an Olivares must continue their studies in the Ateneo.

00 10 20151006_134014
One of the many vast green walkways in the Ateneo College

The Ateneo de Manila started out, when the Jesuit priests took over the Escuela Municipal de Manila, in Intramuros, Manila. The school changed its name to the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, in 1865; where it took the name after the Greek goddess of Wisdom, Athena. In 1932, the school burned down, and had to transfer to the San Jose Major Seminary, along Padre Faura Street, also in Manila.

00 1923 Ateneo de Manila in Intramuros
1923 Ateneo de Manila in Intramuros

During World War II, most of Manila was flattened by the shelling during the final Battle for Manila, in 1945. The Padre Faura campus was wrecked, and plans were made to transfer the campus to the town of Marikina. The first buildings of the new Ateneo campus were constructed in 1949, in the area now called the Loyola Heights. By the late 1950s, the Loyola Heights was incorporated into the newly declared Quezon City.

00 1932 Ateneo campus on Padre Faura
1932 Ateneo campus on Padre Faura Street, Manila

To enter the Ateneo College, a student must first take and pass the grueling ACET (Ateneo College Entrance Test), a nerve wracking affair; in which I have see the smartest kids cry under pressure. Once accepted, the student goes through the typical enrollment procedures, and payment of all fees. If the student came from a far off city or province, he or she had a choice of the many apartments along Katipunan Avenue, or take up residence at the in-campus dorms of the Cervini or Eliaso Halls.

01 1965 Cervini Hall
1965 Cervini Hall

The Cervini Hall was built in 1965, and was named after Fr. Andrew F. Cervini, S.J. , who stood as the Headmaster of the AGS from 1957-1958. Presently the Cervini Hall is the dorm of male students. Right beside the Cervini Hall is the Eliaso Hall, which was built in 1968. It was named after Fr. Jose Ma. Eliazo, S.J., who had once taught in the Ateneo College. The Eliaso Hall is the dorm for the female students, which started when the Ateneo College became co-educational during the school year of 1970-71. The far off Belarmine Hall was once a dorm, until it was converted into classrooms.

02 1968 Eliazo Hall
1968 Eliazo Hall

Inside the Cervini Hall, there are nine impressionist watercolor portraits of the former directors of the dorm by Clara Eloise Fernan Cayosa, a Fine Arts student at the Ateneo college.

1970s Leonides S. Valdez – Fr. José Ma. Eliazo SJ

And at the Eliaso Hall, there is a bust of Fr. José Ma. Eliazo SJ, which was created in the 1970s by Leonides S. Valdez.

Life in the Ateneo College starts at the Xavier Hall, which houses the administrative offices. Built in 1951 by Arch. Gines Rivera, the building was named after St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), as Jesuit priest who had done extensive evangelization in Asia.

03 1951 Gines Rivera - Xavier Hall
1951 Gines Rivera – Xavier Hall

At a far corner of the Xavier Hall, stands Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo’s 1960, 14 ft tall (4.26 mts), statue of Saint Thomas More. Sir Thomas More, to the English, was a leading figure in the Catholic Counter-Reformation during the Renaissance. His statute was based on a 1527 painting by Hans Holbein the Younger.

04 1960 Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo - Saint Thomas Moore (based on Hans Holbein)
1960 Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo – Saint Thomas More

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.

The Ateneo College was formally known as the Ateneo School of Arts and Sciences, which comprised the College and the Graduate School. Part of that multi-disciplinary education of the Ateneo was balance between Theology and Science; which to me is epitomized by the Observatorio Meteorológico del Ateneo Municipal de Manila (Manila Observatory for short), built in 1963.


Another symbol of the scientific inclination of the Ateneo education is the Botanical Research House, which is hidden under the thick foliage between the college and the cover courts.

06 Botanical Research House
Botanical Research House

The original buildings of the Ateneo College comprise what is called the College Quad. With the Xavier Hall as the entrance, the other buildings are the Gonzaga Hall (named after St. Aloysius  or Luigi Gonzaga S.J. 1568 -1591), Kostka Hall (named after St. Stanisław Kostka S.J. 1550 – 1568) and Berchmans Hall (St. Jan Berchmans S.J. 1599 -1621). The Gonzaga Hall is noted to be the home of the College of Fine Arts and the Immaculate Conception Chapel, which was designed and completed by Arch. Gines Rivera in 1951. In the chapel, the Crucifix (undated) is based on based on German statuary of Focolare, and the modernist Stations of the Cross were designed by Arch. Vincent Pinpin in 2000.

Arch. Vincent Martin Veepee Bondoc Pinpin (born 1967) is a graduate of the Ateneo De Manila University, and he completed his degree in Architecture from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Aside from teaching Asian Vernacular Architecture at the Loyola Schools, Ateneo De Manila University, Arch. Pinpin has also worked on the redevelopment of certain building in the Ateneo. Pinpin is also the owner of the successful firm, VMBPArchitecturals.

A testament to the Ateneo’s devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Marian Walk, which is found behind the Gonzaga Hall. The Marian Walk has a stylized version of the Immaculate Conception, which was installed in 2000.

08 2000 Immaculate Conception, Marian Walk 0 lt
2000 Immaculate Conception, Marian Walk

In 2000, the Ateneo School of Arts and Sciences was restructured into four Loyola Schools: the School of Humanities, the John Gokongwei School of Management, the School of Science and Engineering, and the School of Social Sciences. This was done to adapt to the ever-increasing disciplines taught in the college, as well as the growing number of new buildings being added to the campus. One of those new buildings is the Horacio de la Costa School of Humanities, which was named after Fr. Horacio de la Costa (1916-1977) was the first Filipino Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines. At the entrance of the building is a brass sculpture of Fr. Dela Costa by Juan Sajid Imao, installed in 2003.

09 2003 Juan Sajid Imao - Fr. Horacio de la Costa 1
2003 Juan Sajid Imao – Fr. Horacio de la Costa

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.

Despite the rapid development of infrastructure in the campus, the Ateneo maintains much of its lush greenery with many quite places for the students and visitors to rest and contemplate.

Aside from the many images that remind you that you are in a Catholic school, the Ateneo has also invested greatly on modern artworks. Some of these can be found scattered throughout the campus.

12 2008 Impy Pilapil - Surge
2008 Impy Pilapil – Surge

Imelda Impy Manalaysay Pilapil (1949) took her artistic studies at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts in 1968, and continued further studies at the Academia Italiana in Rome and at the Pratt Graphic Institute in New York. A versatile artist, Pilapil has done printmaking, but is more known for her sculpture in glass and mixed media; winning many competitions in both disciplines. Among her major recognitions, Pilapil was given the Thirteen Artists Aware by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (1976), the 100 Outstanding Women of the Philippines (2002), and the Outstanding Citizen Award of Cavite (2004).

13 2012 Plet Bolipata  - imagiNATION 1
2012 Plet Bolipata – imagiNATION

The Ateneo’s love affair with Modern Art started when university teacher, painter and scholar Fernando Zóbel de Ayala y Montojo (1924–1984) donated his whole collection of artworks to the Ateneo in 1961. His collection was first housed at the Bellarmine Hall, and then later moved to the newly constructed Rizal Library in 1967. Built with the aid of the Ford Foundation, the college library was named after José Rizal (1861-1896), the Philippine National Hero and alumnus of the Ateneo. The Rizal Library and the Ateneo Art Gallery houses thousands of artworks and artifacts from the Philippines and abroad, spanning prehistoric times to the present. However, that is the subject of my next article.

14 2014 Anton del Castillo - A Child's Memory 1
2014 Anton del Castillo – A Child’s Memory

The next visit for all Ateneo students is the Alumni Center at the Alingal Hall, which is located in front of the Eliaso Residence Hall. Built in 1988, the building was named after Rev. Godofredo B. Alingal, SJ (1922-1981), who was the parish priest of the Immaculate Conceptopn Parish and director of the Stella Matutina Academy of Kibawe, Bukidnon province. Fr. Alingal was a staunch defender the rights of the local farmers and other villagers of the Kibawe, and he was shot by unidentified men in 1981, due to his activism.

1988 Alingal Hall (Fr. Godofredo B. Alingal SJ, 1922-81)

There are many more buildings found throughout the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila, and these house thousands more stories of the students and teachers who have passed through these halls. I may not have much to tell of the Ateneo College life, but each visit has always opened another story in the wealth of experiences that is the Ateneo.

Ateneo de Manila.PNG


5 thoughts on “Quezon City: College Life at the Ateneo de Manila

  1. Incidentally, Robinsons Place Manila stands on the old site of Ateneo’s Padre Faura campus. There are commemorative bells just beside the Padre Faura entrance serving as a reminder of what the spot used to be. 🙂

    On second thought, I wonder what would happen if Ateneo didn’t transfer to Loyola Heights…


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