Saturday, June 5, 2010

My First Ateneo Is A Septuagenarian

Ateneo de Naga, my high school alma mater, turns seventy today. Now's as good a time as any to take a walk down memory lane.

[Photo courtesy of M. Tatel]

The "Campus Tour" section of the Ateneo de Naga website lists 28 landmarks in the Barangay Bagumbayan Sur campus. Of that number, only 7 were existing at the time of I graduated. That's how much the old campus has changed in the nearly a decade and a half since.

Once you turn into Ateneo Avenue, the famed Four Pillars of the Administration Building are the first things you'll see of the old campus. The Pillars are a well-loved landmark: that's where we posed for class pictures, held graduation ceremonies, and drank ourselves silly on Alumni Homecoming Day. They even used to be depicted on old Ateneo de Naga diplomas.

Below is Burns Hall, named after Rev. Fr. Francis D. Burns, S.J., the school’s first rector. It's where I took the entrance examination, and where my Learning Group ("LG," i.e. section) freshman year had its homeroom. It's also the scene of this unfortunate incident.

[Photo from the AdNU website]

Pictured below is the second floor of the right wing of the Administration Building, commonly known as the Main Building. That's the view if you're standing near the doorway of the old High School Faculty Room. On the right is where the High School Guidance Office used to be. At the far end there's a flight of stairs leading to the ground floor, where there used to be classrooms whose numbers were prefixed with "MR" (which I surmise meant "Main building, Right wing"). My LG in sophomore year was doubly lucky: our homeroom was on the first floor right beside and below those stairs, and back then the female college students wore skirts as uniforms.

Opposite the MR used to be the left wing, or "ML," of the Administration Building. Collectively the two wings were called the "wooden building," which, looking back, was puzzling since (a) they were separate structures (b) they were only extensions of the same building, and (c) the Main Building was mostly made of concrete. Between ML and MR there used to be the Assembly Hall that was often flooded during the rainy season, and a canteen that was the site of the infamous "Canteen Incident" of School Year 1993-1994. ML, the Assembly Hall, and the canteen were all torn down a few years after I graduated.

The old canteen used to be located between the two trees pictured above. Also, those benches-cum-tables used to be made of wood. The left one is especially memorable: when I was a sophomore, Tony Cano, who was then with the Physical Plant Office, caught me sitting on the table and confiscated my ID. Perhaps to teach me a lesson, he let me have my ID back only after a few days.

The Ignatius Park pictured below stands where the Assembly Hall and the canteen used to be. From the Main Building there is now an unobstructed view of the relatively new James J. O'Brien, S.J. Library and the statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Below is Santos Hall, named after Bishop (later Archbishop) Pedro P. Santos of Caceres, who invited the Jesuits to establish the school. In junior year our homeroom was located at the third floor; in senior year, at the ground floor.

[Photo from the AdNU website]

Below is the octagonal building we used to call "Module 1." Back then we used it for special lectures, recollections, and sanctioned overnight or weekend activities. These days it's a canteen with food stalls that are student-run.

[Photo from the AdNU website]

Below is Phelan Hall, named after the Fr. John “Jack” Phelan, S.J. Largely built from a USAID grant, it made history of sorts as the first building on campus to be named after a still-living person. We used it mainly for the Audio-Visual Room, which I was pleasantly surprised to learn was the spitting image of the one in Ateneo de Manila's Faura Hall.

During my time the high school and college students shared the Bagumbayan Sur campus. But in 2003, four years after Ateneo de Naga became a University, the High School moved to its present site in Barangay Pacol. It was also that year when it started accepting female students. After over half a century of being an all-boys school, the Ateneo de Naga High School was now a co-educational institution.

[Photo from the AdNU website]

As expected, the new campus has its own Four Pillars. They look like they came from Mesoamerica, though. I still prefer the clean, Greco-Roman lines of the original.

[Photo courtesy of M. Tatel]

Truth be told I've never gone to the Pacol campus. I also have no inclination of going there. Between the new campus, the female high school students, and the revamped uniform, it's not the AdeN of my youth.


  1. Leo is that you?:-D Nice, blog I must say. I missed the old school too. Those pictures reminds me of the good old days. Too bad you we're not able to post the picture of the old buildings in the campus like the assembly hall and the canteen beside it(do you by any chance remember the canteen incident one fateful evening in 1993?lol just kidding. Peace..) Great Job. Congrats..

  2. Thanks for the visit! Leave a name next time. After all, it seems like we know each other.


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