In 1859, the Spanish Jesuits took over the public primary school Escuela Municipal de Manila (Municipal School of Manila), in Intramuros in Manila, and renamed it as the Ateneo Municipal de Manila in 1865. With the new name derived from the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, the Ateneo has forged many a young man, to be the top business and political leaders of the country. And from privatization and renaming to the Ateneo de Manila, then its transfer from Intramuros to Padre Faura Street in Manila in 1932, its relocation to the Loyola Heights district in Quezon City in 1949, and final renaming as the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in 1959; the Ateneo has never wavered from its commitment to quality education.
With so many notable alumni as leaders in the business and political sectors, what is not so known are the artists who have graduated from the Ateneo de Manila. The ADMU has always prided its Humanities based education, having its students take on lessons in literature, theater and the visual arts; and thus enticing many students to explore their creative side. Ateneans who chose to take a career in the art have thrived in film, theater, literature and the visual arts; with some reaching the highest accolade of National Artist of the Philippines. The next list of artists are those Ateneans who have made a name in the visual arts, during the Spanish (1565-1898) and American (1898-1946) colonial periods.
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 he was commissioned to carve the religious icons and decorative motifs of the San Ignacio Church of Intramuros, from 1892 to 1899. 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).
Rafael Villanueva Enriquez (1850-1937) was a Spaniard born in the Philippines, who is a noted painter and 1st director of the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts. In his younger years, Enriquez studied at the Ateneo Municipal and the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura. He would later receive his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) where he also enrolled in law. He continued his legal studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid in Spain, at the age of 18. Enriquez would later be part of the group of Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo in Europe, and often collaborated with the Propagandists who sought reforms in the Spanish rule over the Philippines.
Juan de San Pedro y Novicio Luna (1857-1899) was an awarding winning painter in Europe for his large works. In 1881, Luna won the silver prize for his painting “La Muerte de Cleopatra” (The Death of Cleopatra) at the Madrid Exposicion de Bellas Artes. In 1884, he won the gold prize for his work “Spolarium” at the Exposicion National de Bellas Artes, in Madrid. In 1887, Luna received a Diploma of Honor for his work “La Mestiza en su Tocador” (The Mestiza at the Dressing Table) and two more awards for “La Batalla de Lepanto” (The Battle of Lepanto) and “Rendición de Granada”(The Surrender of Granada), at the Exposicion General de Filipinas, in Madrid. In 1890, Luna was welcomed to the exclusive Societe Nationale de Beaux Arts, in Paris, for his work “The Ragpicker”. And in 1904, Luna won the posthumous silver award for his 1886 work “El Pacto de Sangre” (The Blood Compact) at the Saint Louis Exposition, in the United States. With all these awards, he had a certain clout in European society, even if he was part of the Reformist Propaganda Movement that sought the equal rights between the indios (natives) and Spaniards in the Philippines. That clout and his Masonic linkages kept him safe from harm, even after he murdered his wife and mother-in-law after a fit of jealousy. He was exiled back to the Philippines, where acted as a negotiator with the Americans, during their occupation of the Philippines. He was later exiled to Hong Kong, where he died in 1899.
Felix Pardo de Tavera, Jr. y Gorricho (1859-1932) a sculptor of Portuguese descent, and was born in Manila. De Tavera was educated at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila in 1874, and at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, which was located in one of his family’s properties. After his graduation in 1876, he left in 1877 to further his studies in Paris where the Pardo de Tavera Family lived in exile. He studied at Sorbonne University and graduated with a medicine degree in 1882. Felix Pardo de Tavera’s doctoral dissertation examined the causes of fetal death during early pregnancy.
Dr. José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda or José Rizal (1861–1896) opthamologist, historian, poet, journalist, sculptor, playwright, caricaturist, painter, inventor, polyglot, botanist, and anthropologist; who is honored as the National Hero of the Philippines. While studying at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, Rizal took drawing lessons under Don Augustin Saez, and sculpture under Romualdo de Jesus. Rizal is also credited for creating (probably) the first published Filipino children’s story and first comic strip, with his 1885-1886 “The Turtle and the Monkey,” wich was published in 1889 in the Trübner’s Oriental Record in England. Although Rizal is best known for his works in the Reform and propaganda movements, which demanded reforms in the Spanish governance of the Philippines, especially for equality between the native indio and the Spanish colonizers. Rizal’s novels “Noli Me Tángere” and “El Filibusterismo,” which are social commentaries of Philippine society. Rizal’s writings and execution were instrumental in inspiring the Philippine Revolution.
José Maria Asuncion y Raymundo (1869-1925) is a classicist writer, painter and illustrator of genre themes, and is from a family of noted artists in the Santa Cruz district of Manila. José Maria’s father is portraitist and iconographic painter Hilarion, his grandfather is the sculptor Leoncio Asuncion, and his grandunlces are the painters Antonio Mariano el Menor, Ambrosio and Justiniano, and the sculptor Manuel Tarsilo. After graduating from the Ateneo de Manila, Asuncion continued his art studies at the Escuela de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado, the Universidad de Santo Tomas, and finally at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. Returning to the Philippines, Asuncion first worked as an assistant in the Escuela Profesional de Artes y Oficios (School of Arts and Trade) in Iloilo, before joining the revolutionary forces during the Philippine-American War. After the war, Asuncion continued to paint landscape and theater backdrops, and managed a photography business with his brother in Leyte. However, in 1905 Asuncion returned to Manila, and pursued law studies, while writing and illustrating for the publications La Independencia, El Ilonquillo, La Voz de Mindanao, La Union, El Estudiante, El Renacimiento, The Independent, and Dia Filipino. In 1908, Asuncion with Rafael Enriquez founded the Sociedad Internacional de Artistas of Manila, which organized the organized the Exposicion de Bellas Artes y Industrias Artistica in the same year. In 1909, Asuncion joined the teaching and administrative staff of the University of the Philippines’ School of Fine Arts, which he served until his death. Due to the destruction wrought by the American bombings in World War II, there are no surviving paintings by Asuncion, with only three on record in private collections.
Eulogio Velarde Garcia (1871-1936) is a painter and sculptor, and is the son of noted Manila sculptors Sotero and Petrona. Gracia learned sculpture from his parents and painting under Lorenzo Guerrero, while studying at the Ateneo de Manila. After finishing his studies, Garcia took over his father’s studio, after Sotero was elected as the local gobernadorcillo. Garcia was noted to have created many public monuments for the provincial capitols of Cavite, Negros Occidental, and Camarines Norte but none of them survived after World War II. In 1880, Garcia first gained recognition for his award winning paintings and sculptures during the foundation celebrations of the town of San Juan de la Cruz, which would lead to having his own exhibition booth at the 1895 Exposicion Regional de Filipinas. Garcia would garner more local awards in the 1908 Exposicion Intenacional de Bellas Artes and competition of the Liga Antipornografica de San Francisco Javier.
Patricio Gaston O’Farrell (1879-1942) was a Chinese-Filipino genre painter, from the wealthy Tuason clan. O’Farrell was also of Irish and French descent, as his mother was a French citizen. He started his art lessons at the age of eight at the Escuela de Artes Y Oficios and took private lessons under Felix Martinez (1859-1907). In 1892, O’Farrell became friends with Juan Luna, who would later become his mentor. O’Farrell is noted for winning the bronze at the St. Louis Exposition, 1904; the bronze medal at the Asociasion Internacional of 1908; and the bronze award at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, of 1915.
Isidro Gabriel Ancheta (1882-1949) is a classicist painter from Manila, and who is noted for his landscapes. After studying throughout his youth and completing his education at the Ateneo de Manila, Ancheta decided to pursue his art studies at the Liceo de Manila, Escuela de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado, and the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura. Ancheta would build a reputation for his realistic landscapes of both rural and urban scenes of the Philippines, garnering him a representation in the 1904 St. Louis Universal Exposition, where he received an honorable mention with his work “A Victim of War.” Shortly, prints of his landscapes were on display in the many classrooms throughout the country. In 1918, Ancheta started teaching at the Philippine Normal School, up to 1926 when he decided to paint full-time. Hi last major award was during the 1941 University of Santo Tomas competition, with his work “Tienda del barrio” (Barrio Store).
Alfredo Casas Carmelo (1896-1985) is a pilot and painter from Manila, known for his works depicting ships. Carmelo came from the Lakadula aristocracy of Tondo, and his father, Eulalio, was a noted engraver, who owner a lithographic shop with a German partner. After completing his academic studies at the San Beda College and Ateneo de Manila, Carmelo decided to pursue formal art classes at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, then he would later travelled to Leipzig, Germany to train in lithography. While taking his art studies in Manila, Carmelo also took up flying lessons, becoming the first licensed civilian pilot in the country. Throughout his travels, Carmelo acquainted himself with the details of all the ships he saw, creating a vast collection of painting of historical and modern war ships, as well as the different boats and ships plying Manila Bay, the Pasig River, and the Hong Kong Harbor.
Jose Lorenzo Gómez de Ocampo (1906–1995) is a noted architect and painter, who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila and later at the University of Santo Tomas. As a painter, De Ocampo first focused on classically styles religious scenes, before moving on to more impressionist sceneries. As an architect, De Ocampo is most known for designing the Antipolo Cathedral, in 1954. After his retirement from architecture, De Ocampo moved to California, USA; where he continued to paint, until his death in 1995.
The ADMU has a vast collection of modern and contemporary artworks in the Ateneo Art Gallery (AAG), housed in the Areté, along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. Unfortunately, the AAG has not a single work of any of the above-mentioned artists, due to the difficulty of obtain such rare pieces in this day and age. However, it would be a great that some of these artists’ works will find a home in the AAG, so that the next generation of Atenean artists may look back at the legacy of creativity that the Ateneo has help shaped during the colonial era to present. The next set of artists to be featured are the painters who forged the modernist movement in Philippine Art.