Friday, December 11, 2009

How'd you say 'Sesquicentennial' with an Arrrneow accent?

The Blue Eagle has been flying for one hundred fifty years; so to all our friends who were once eaglets in the Loyola Heights campus, we say 'Happy Sesquicentennial!' in our accented Iloko-English. 

To you, guys, our first birthday present is a copy of a picture of the 'scholars of the Manila Athenaeum belonging to the congregation of the Virgin,'  who were 'some of the rising generation of the Philippines.'   That's how Frederic H.R. Sawyer (1900) captioned it in the chapter about friar estates in his book The inhabitants of the Philippines.  He did not say anything else about Ateneo Municipal de Manila.

This picture actually reminds us of Jose Rizal who took the qualifying examinations there on 10 June, 1872 and graduated with honors five years later with a bachelor of arts degree.  These scholars'
uniform was different from what the hero wore as Ateneista--"white coat, striped shirt, black tie and cream-colored hempen trousers," according to Asuncion Lopez Bantug in her Lolo Jose (2008, 2nd ed.).

The other birthday present is a copy of a photograph used by Carl Crow as one of several illustrations of Building a Nation, a chapter of his America and the Philippines (1914).  He was discussing the developments in our educational system at that time when American teachers outnumbered our countrymen and women being trained or were newly trained to teach in English.

It doesn't look like a classroom in Physics, but it reminds nonetheless of the one described as a showcase by Jose Rizal in his novel El Filibusterismo.  But this Ateneo room could have been typical of one that's equipped to comply with regulations for effective instruction in the secondary schools during the American regime.

We wish to give you another gift. But we have to take a photo of it if it can be located: a marker that  the Philippine Historical Committee put up in 1948 at the former site of Ateneo Municipal at the corner of Anda and Arzobispo streets in Intramuros.  According to a report, it was placed on a two-story building constructed there for Marsman and Company, Inc.  If that building is still there, then we can possibly find a marker bearing this very brief history of Ateneo:   "This was the site of 'Escuela Pia' taken over by the Jesuits in 1859 and renamed 'Ateneo Municipal de Manila' in 1865. Jose Rizal received from this school the degree of Bachelor of Arts on March 23, 1877. In 1901, the name was changed to 'Ateneo de Manila.' On August 13, 1932, the building together with the school, museum, library and equipment, was destroyed by fire and the classes had to be transferred to the 'Colegio de San Jose' on Calle Padre Faura. The present building, to which the Ateneo grade school returned in June 1940, was blessed on December 15, 1940."

These sesquincentennial virtual gifts remind that we were not born yet when all of these happened.  As post-WWII boomers, your first Ateneo memory could possibly be your school's inauguration as a university June 19,1960, Carlos P. Garcia was President of the Republic, and he came to address you eagles.  And that was Rizal's birthday ...!

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