Ateneo de Iloilo

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Ateneo de Iloilo
Santa Maria Catholic School
Athenaea Iloilensis (Latin)
Ateneo de Iloilo Seal.svg
Iloilo City, Iloilo
Coordinates 10°43′0″N 122°34′0″E / 10.71667°N 122.56667°E / 10.71667; 122.56667Coordinates: 10°43′0″N 122°34′0″E / 10.71667°N 122.56667°E / 10.71667; 122.56667
Type Private
College preparatory school
Motto In Omnibus Amare et Servire (Latin)
In All Things to Love and
to Serve
Established 1958
President Fr. Joseph Y. Haw, SJ
Principal Rosario Dordas
(High School)
Ma. Cecilia Japitana
(Grade School)
Enrollment 1,600
Campus Grade School – 3.6k sqm in Gen. Blanco St., City proper
High School – 7.5 ha. in San Rafael, Mandurriao
Color(s) Blue ‹See Tfm›     and ‹See Tfm›     White
Mascot Blue Dragon
Nickname Blue Dragons
Affiliation Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Alma Mater Song "Amare et Servire"
Former name Santa Maria Catholic School
affiliations JBEC CEAP PAASCU

The Ateneo de Iloilo – Santa Maria Catholic School (AdI–SMCS) is a private, Catholic college-preparatory school in the Philippine city of Iloilo. It is ran by the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. Ateneo de Iloilo began in 1958 as a parochial school named Santa Maria Catholic School. In 2004, the school was officially recognized as a Jesuit school separate from the parish and was renamed Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School. It is the eighth Jesuit school in the Philippines to be named Ateneo. Its curriculum includes a Chinese language program.


Early years - A parochial school[edit]

The Jesuits came to Iloilo City in 1953 after being expelled from China by the Communists, and continued their apostolic work in the local Chinese community. They first did parish-pastoral ministry. With the support of the Iloilo Chinese and Filipino communities, Santa Maria Parish under the tutelage of Our Lady Queen of China was established by Fr. Guerrino Marsecano, an Italian Jesuit missionary.

Jesuits believe that quality education is essential in molding good Catholic Christians. So in 1958, with nine students as enrollees, Frs. Andrew Joliet, a French Jesuit, and Santiago Leon, a Spanish Jesuit, acting as Founder/Director and Principal respectively, opened a parochial school that came to be known as Sta. Maria Catholic School (SMCS). A year after the founding of the school, a two-story wooden building was constructed to provide the students with eight classrooms. In 1962, through the beneficence of Eduardo and Cesar Lopez, additional classrooms were built on the brothers' lot situated across the street.

SMCS had its first batch of graduates from the Grade School Department in school year 1965–66. The school accepted its first batch of high school freshmen in school year 1966–67. SMCS held its first high school graduation in March 1970. In 1968, the Philippine government recognized SMCS as a Filipino school with a comprehensive Chinese language program.[1]

From nine pupils in 1958, SMCS's student population had continuously grown. It accepted a total of 615 enrollees for high school alone in 1970. However, due to the decision of the Chinese Provincial Superior to maintain only an elementary school, no freshmen were accepted for the school year 1971–72. As a result, high school enrollment plummeted to 513 and to 481 the following year. When parents of the students protested the phasing-out of the high school department, the Chinese Provincial Superior reconsidered his decision. A year after, enrollment started picking up as freshmen were again allowed to enroll for the school year 1972–73. In school year 2013-14, total enrollment of the school from Kindergarten to Grade 10 was 1,500. The school expects to peak at more than 2,000 enrollees when it completes the implementation of the government mandated K-12 basic education program in 2018.[2]

A donation of 3,600 square meters of land by the Lopez family in June 1972 paved the way for the construction of a four-story concrete building in 1974 to replace the wooden one. The French-German missionary Fr. Arthur Baur, S.J., parish priest and Superior of the Sta. Maria community, added a new wing to the school in 1977.

Despite the limitations of a constricted space, SMCS's complex continued to grow under the tenure of Fr. Chi. When SMCS celebrated its 25th founding anniversary in 1983, improvements such as the construction of additional comfort rooms, large classrooms and a cluster of offices were undertaken. A two-story structure was also put up to house classrooms for kindergarten pupils. Two years later, administrative offices on the ground floor of the school were renovated and a conference room was added.[1]

The integration of the Jesuits of the China Province delegation in the Philippines into the Jesuit Philippine Province in September 27, 1988 resulted in all the former delegation works being placed under the care and control of the Philippine Jesuit provincial superior. This facilitated the assignment of Filipino Jesuits to the three Chinese-Filipino schools ran by Jesuits: the Santa Maria Catholic School (Iloilo), Sacred Heart School–Ateneo de Cebu and Xavier School (San Juan, Metro Manila).[3]

New Beginning - A Jesuit school named Ateneo[edit]

With the incessant clamor of SMCS alumni and the local Iloilo community to let their children study in a Jesuit school, a plan for expansion and transfer to a new and better site was initiated.

In April 30, 2004, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Jesuit Father Provincial Romeo J. Intengan S.J., Fr. Manuel A. Uy Jr., S.J., Director of SMCS, and Victor F. Pison of the Kauuturan Pison Development Corporation (KAPIDECO). The latter was donating 2.5 hectares of land to be part of the 7.5-hectare campus of a new Ateneo, the first in the Visayas. Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo of the Archdiocese of Jaro and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, an Ateneo de Manila alumnus, witnessed the MOA signing which formalized the establishment of the Ateneo de Iloilo – Santa Maria Catholic School, a Jesuit school separate from the parish.[3][4]

The new school campus is on a 7.5-hectare property in Barangay San Rafael, Mandurriao District, Iloilo City. This site will be the main campus of the school in the future. Buildings for the pre-school, grade school, high school and Administration will be constructed in this new campus. A covered gymnasium, sports complex and a church will also be built in this new campus. Phase 1 of the master plan of the new campus was completed when the High School Department transferred to the new site in June 2010.[2][5]

Groundbreaking rites for the construction of a four-story building (Phase 2) worth P200 million which will house the Grade School department and the Administration were held in June I, 2013. In attendance to the historical event were Jesuit Father Provincial Jose Cecilio Magadia, S.J., Board of Trustees chairman Fr. Antonio Samson, S.J., school president Fr. Joseph Y. Haw, S.J., school chaplain Fr. Antonio Robrto Sian, S.J., Ateneo de Cebu president Fr. Manny Uy, S.J., former Jesuit provincial superior Romeo J. Intengan, S.J., Victor F. Pison, chairman of KAIPDECO, Iloilo City mayor Patrick Mabilog and Iloilo City councilors, among many others. Also present were school administrators, staff, faculty, students alumni and parents. The ceremony started with the blessing rites led by Fr. Samson, S.J. followed by speeches. Construction of the Grade School and Administration buildings (Phase 2) will start in late 2013.[2][6][7]

After the school has totally transferred to the new site in Barangay San Rafael, Mandurriao District, Iloilo City, the old campus at General Blanco Street will be used as a center for evangelization and pastoral activities by the Jesuits.[4]

Jesuit Administrators[edit]

From its founding until 1967, Fr. Joliet, S.J. had been both Director of the school and the Pastor of the parish. In 1968, Fr. Felix Maiza, another Spanish Jesuit, became the Principal of the school. Fr. Maiza, whose short term as a principal ended in 1970, was replaced by Fr. Albert Ricard, a French Canadian Jesuit who also acted as school Director.

In 1971, Fr. Peter Ignatius Li, S.J. was appointed parish priest and school Director while Fr. Ricard retained his position as Principal for seven more years. In 1978, Fr. John Chi, S.J. was appointed Director–Principal of the School. In June 1991, Fr. Renato Puentevella, S.J. succeeded Fr. Chi as Director–Principal. Fr. Enrique Ma. Lalana, S.J. was appointed Director-Principal and Fr. Manuel A. Uy Jr., S.J. school chaplain and parish priest in June 1996.

In the year 2000, Fr. Manuel A. Uy Jr., S.J. assumed the post of Director-Principal. Fr. Robert Exequiel Rivera, S.J. became the school's chaplain for a year. When Fr. Emerito Salustiano de la Rama, S.J. came in 2001, he was appointed Assistant Director and the following year assumed the position of Principal of the Grade School Department.[3] At the start of school year 2004, the title of the school head was changed from school Director to President. Fr. Manuel Uy, S.J. was the first school head of Ateneo de Iloilo to be installed as President.

In school year 2009–10, Fr. Emerito Salustiano de la Rama, S.J. succeeded Fr. Manuel A. Uy, S.J. as the new school president. Fr. Uy was transferred to the Sacred Heart School - Ateneo de Cebu after its Board of Trustees elected him to become their school President. Fr. de la Rama in turn was succeeded by Fr. Joseph Y. Haw, S.J., as school president in school year 2012-13.[3]


The motto of the school which was taken from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is "In Omnibus Amare et Servire" (To Love and Serve in All Things). It expresses the Ignatian ideal of love and service to Jesus Christ and to one's fellowman.


The shield is divided into three parts, colored red, white and blue, the colors of the Philippine Flag.

The upper one-third of the shield is a blue band on which are the capital letters "AM" (Ave Maria) in white symbolic of the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom the school has been dedicated from the beginning. (Blue and White are the colors associated with the Immaculate Conception and are the colors of many Ateneos in the Philippines.)

The lower two-thirds of the shield is divided vertically. The "dexter" (right side) of the shield (that is, to the left of the viewer) is a white field on which, in black, are the wolves-and-pot (lobos y olla) of the House of Loyola, the family of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order that administers the school.

The "sinister" (left side) of the shield (that is, to the right of the viewer) is a red field on which, in gold, is a stone fort, the emblem of the City of Iloilo where a stone fort used to guard the coast.

Above the shield is a gold medallion with three capital letters - I H S - which are the first three Greek letters (iota, eta, sigma) in the Greek name of Jesus and the three nails joined together like a fan. This is the official emblem of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit Order. From the Jesus medallion emanates golden rays.

On both sides of the shield are, in gold, the Chinese characters Blessed Mother.

Below the shield is a golden scroll on which is the motto "In Omnibus Amare et Servire" (To Love and Serve in All Things) from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, expressing the Ignatian ideal of love and service to Jesus Christ and to one's fellowman.

The entire seal is enclosed in a circle composed of two semicircular scrolls. The upper scroll contains the new official name of the school: Ateneo de Iloilo. The lower scroll contains the name of the school since its foundation: Santa Maria Catholic School.[8]


The Blue Dragon is the mascot of the Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School. It combines the valor of the Chinese dragon with the color of the school's patroness, Mary, under the title of Our Lady of China.[8]

PAASCU accreditation[edit]

During the five-year term (1991-1996) of Fr. Renato Puentevella, S.J. as Director - Principal, SMCS went through the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) Preliminary Survey and Formal Survey. The Grade School Department was granted a three-year PAASCU accreditation in 1995 and the High School Department followed suit the following year.[3] SMCS applied for PAASCU re-accreditation in November 1999 and was granted accreditation for another five years.

In November 2004, PAASCU conducted a resurvey visit. Both the Grade School and the High School Departments have been granted re-accreditation for 2005–2010. Similar accreditation is granted to the school for 2010-2015.

Notable alumni and teachers[edit]

  • Jose Efrain "Jay" Trenas - Iloilo City Councilor
  • Robert Alor - Iloilo Grand Hotel Manager
  • Lady Julie "Love" Baronda - Iloilo City Councilor
  • Migz Flores - Oton Councilor
  • Rogelio C. Florete Jr. - Executive Vice-President, Bombo Radyo Philippines, Star FM, F&C Jewelries, FLO Water, Queenbank, Bombo Radyo Holdings
  • Mike Gorriceta - Pavia Mayor
  • Dr. Herman Lagon - Multi-awardee: Outstanding Teacher, Researcher, and Journalism Adviser
  • Emman MonfortOutstanding athlete
  • Rufino Palabrica - Dingle Mayor
  • Jesry Palmares - Passi City Mayor
  • Atty. Joebert Penaflorida - GMA News Anchor
  • Francis Salcedo - Sara Councilor
  • Chris Sorongon - Party List Representative (Ang Nars)
  • Patrick Tedoco - Sara Councilor
  • Marcel Milliam - Journalist and Poet

See also[edit]

External links[edit]