Ever since I was a student from the Ateneo de Manila Grade School, I have always associated the Latin phrase “Schola Brevis” with the month of June. That Latin term was often used in the Ateneo to mean the opening days of school and it has always been in my head. “Schola Brevis”, which translates to “brief school”, were those days when students were prepared for the academic year. It also served as a refresher of sorts in terms of school identity and history, tradition and heritage. Prayers, hymns, as well as the history of the school would be reviewed and the section (for the AGS only, no more for AHS since sections there are letters) would be discussed (e.g. who Lakandula is, where Mount Data is, etc.)
But now, as I end my 16 years (YES, 16!) of education in the Ateneo de Manila, I would like to write a few notes on the history of my beloved Alma Mater, a school, without any tinge of boastfulness, that has helped build this nation. Its Jesuit priests and brothers, professors, instructors, staff, students and alumni have contributed, one way or another, in the progress of this country. Though there are some too who have exploited its people, the Philippines, I believe, had more better experiences with Ateneo.
When the Jesuits returned in 1859, they didn’t plan to put up a school, much more, a university. They were all intent in starting a new life in the wilderness of Mindanao, a mission territory the newly-sent Jesuits of the newly “re-founded” order were looking forward to in the beginning. Welcomed by the Augustinian friars in the pier, the ten Jesuits temporarily stayed with the Augustinians in their sprawling monastery complex before they put up their own small Casa Mision.
By December of that same year, and due to the persistent demands of the people of Manila, the Jesuits put up the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, whose antecedent was the Escuela Pia, a primary school in an awful state. On its first day, the Ateneo had 30 Spanish students.