LS lovingly sends off its seniors through Pabaon

By Erikha Ghale Villasanta

Background: Fr. Jett gave an inspiring Pabaon message to the last graduating batch he sent off

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Loyola Schools decided that this year’s annual senior send-off event would be celebrated online. The Pabaon [Provision] was designed to give the graduating students a proper closure to their college experience while honoring their achievements as a batch without compromising their safety. The event, which usually takes place in a day, was converted into a two-day celebration. It fused the activities that were originally intended during graduation rites (Thanksgiving Mass and Message from the Valedictorian) while giving each school the opportunity to send off their students in a more personalized way.

Pabaon started with the Thanksgiving Mass, which was presided by Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ and were concelebrated by Fr. Adolfo Dacanay, SJ, Fr. Ruben Orbeta, SJ, and Fr. Jason Dy, SJ. Following the graduation rites schedule, the School Pabaon for JGSOM and SOSE students was shown on May 29, while the Pabaon for SOH and SOSS students was shown on May 30. The event was concluded through the LS Pabaon 2020 that was streamed through the Ateneo Facebook page.

Despite hosting LS Pabaon 2020 online, Mr. Tenorio managed to engage the audience
Valedictorian Briones invited fellow graduates to do what they can and to do things out of love

LS Pabaon 2020 was hosted by Jethro Tenorio from the Filipino Department. This year’s invited speakers were Yumi Briones (Class of 2020 Valedictorian) and Dr. Roberto Guevara (Theology Department). Valedictorian Briones invited her batchmates to do as much as they could despite their current limitations, and to always do things out of love. Meanwhile, Dr. Guevara asked the graduates to hold on to their belovedness, to their hopes and dreams, and to their friendships with the poor. He ended his Pabaon message by reminding the batch to live more fully, more deeply, and more lovingly.

Vice President for the Loyola Schools Dr. Marlu Vilches and University President Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ gave the opening and closing messages for the batch respectively. Dr. Vilches gave her three blessings—inner peace, hope, and fervor—to Batch 2020, while Fr. Jett reminded the graduates that Magis is motivated by love and to do the more loving thing.

Dr. Vilches gave her three blessings of inner peace, hope, and fervor to the graduating batch
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Glenn Mas receives UMPIL lifetime achievement award

by Emil Hofileña


Photos courtesy of Roxanne Cuacoy

On April 21, 2020, Department of Fine Arts assistant professor Glenn Sevilla Mas was awarded the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas [Balagtas National Service Award], a lifetime achievement award from the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) [Writers Union of the Philippines]. UMPIL honored Mas for his full-length and one-act plays in English, for which he won nine Palanca Awards from 1996 to 2007. Mas’ works, which include first prize Palanca recipients Her Father’s House, In the Land of the Giants, and The Death of Memory, are frequently characterized by explorations of trauma and repression, as well as memories of his youth in his native province of Antique.

In addition to being a playwright and instructor, Mas remains an active member of the larger Philippine theater community, representing the country in international theater conferences and serving with the Philippine Center of International PEN and the Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards. He also acted as the artistic director and moderator of Tanghalang Ateneo.

Though UMPIL’s awarding ceremony (originally scheduled on April 25) has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mas and fellow awardees are guaranteed to receive a certificate and a hardwood trophy sculpted by Filipino artist, Manuel Baldemor.

Ateneo Theater Arts gains recognition at the first national LEAF Awards

By Dr. Ricardo Abad


Photos courtesy of Philippine LEAF Awards, Blue Repertory, Tanghalang Ateneo, Juana Change Movement, Elizabeth Eviota, Erika Rafael, Frank Rivera, Sofia Santelices, and Tata Tuviera

Three Ateneo theater artists and a college theater company received prestigious honors from the first Philippine Live Entertainment, Arts, and Festivals (LEAF) Awards. The star-studded, Filipinana-inspired ceremony was held on February 8, 2020 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Yuchengco Tower, Makati.

Dr. Ricardo Abad proudly shows his Golden Leaf Award for Excellence in Theater Arts Education

Dr. Ricardo Abad, Professor Emeritus and Areté’s Artistic Director, led the pack of Ateneo winners with a Golden Leaf Award for Excellence in Theater Arts Education. The award recognized Abad’s “lifetime work in uplifting a deeper understanding of theater as a most potent tool in nation building” and for his continued excellence as a theater artist and educator across several decades. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Abad profusely thanked the Ateneo de Manila University, his theater colleagues, and his students for the support given to him in pursuing theater projects both within the campus and outside the country.

Dr. Abad thanks the Ateneo in his acceptance speech
From left to right: Theater colleagues Arthur Casanova, Chris Millado (who won a Special LEAF Award for Arts and Cultural Management), Ricardo Abad, Nicanor Tiongson, and Jerry Respeto

Missy Maramara, an Associate Professor from the Department of Fine Arts, also reaped honors as Outstanding Performance by an Actress for her moving portrayal in Stop Kiss, a play she herself co-produced and staged at the Power Mac Center Spotlight. Maramara also received a nomination for Outstanding Director for a Musical for Spring Awakening, a production staged by Ateneo Blue Repertory.

Ateneo Blue Repertory representatives present two awards to Missy Maramara during the curtain call of her ongoing show, Stage Kiss: Outstanding Actress for Stop Kiss, and Outstanding Ensemble for Spring Awakening, which she directed

Ateneo Blue Repertory was a big winner with two major LEAF awards and four nominations. Idol Philippines star Juancho Gabriel rose above tough professional contenders to claim the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (Musical) for Spring Awakening, while Blue Repertory garnered the prize for Outstanding Ensemble Cast for a Musical. The company also received nominations for Sandino Martin as Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical, and for Krystal Kane as Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical.

Juancho Gabriel with this trophy for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (Musical)
Members of Blue Repertory pose with trophies for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Musical and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Not to be outdone were awards and nominations for performances and shows staged, as Spring Awakening was, at the Areté in 2019. Juana Change Movement, the producers of the gritty Tao Po, secured the award for Outstanding Emerging Performance Art and earned for its solo performer, Mae Paner, the Outstanding Performer in an Emerging Performance Art. A former faculty member of Ateneo’s Theater Arts Program, Tao Po director Ed Lacson, Jr. also received a nomination as Outstanding Director for Emerging Performance Art.

Just as notable were the nominated performances of Bibeth Orteza (Outstanding Performance by an Actress) and Ronan Capinding (Outstanding Performance by an Actor) for Tanghalang Ateneo’s production of Dolorosa. Written by Ateneo alumnus Peter Zaragoza Mayshle, the play also won first prize in the Palanca Memorial Awards last year.

Directed by Dr. Ricardo Abad, Areté’s production of Suzue Toshiro’s If He Doesn’t See Your Face produced two nominations—one for Delphine Buencamino as Outstanding Performance by an Actress, and another for Brian Sy as Outstanding Performance by an Actor. Both Ateneo alumni are among the leading actors of their generation.

The LEAF Awards came at the heels of several other citations given to Ateneo theater by the Philippine media, most notably the Philippine Daily Inquirer in their Best of the Year and Best of the Decade listings. They testify to the esteem held by the cultural industry on Ateneo theater arts in its mission to excel and serve the nation and in places beyond its borders. May the beat of magis go on!

Tao Po was shown twice in Areté
If He Doesn’t See your Face was staged at the Doreen Black Box in August 2019
Dolorosa was staged at the Areté in August 2019

Dr. Emilyn Espiritu wins the 2020 NAST Environmental Science Award

by Abigail Favis

The Environmental Science Award of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) is given to people with outstanding scientific and technological research work that contributes to environmental protection and conservation. This year’s awardee is none other than Dr. Emilyn Q. Espiritu, professor at the Department of Environmental Science (ES) and director of the Ateneo Research Institute of Science and Engineering (ARISE).

Dr. Espiritu is the primary author of the article “Assessment of Quality and Quantity of Microplastics in the Sediments, Waters, Oysters, and Selected Fish Species in Key Sites along the Bombong Estuary and the Coastal Waters of Ticalan in San Juan, Batangas,” which was published in the Philippine Journal of Science last December 2019. Dr. Espiritu’s co-authors are colleagues from the ES Department (Sophia Angeli S. Dayrit) and the Chemistry Department (Virgil Christian G. Castillo and Erwin P. Enriquez), as well as students from the ES Department. Their work contributes vital understanding of the characteristics, abundance, and environmental fate of plastic debris in the Philippine marine environment.

The NAST awardee shared, “This award is a great honor for me because it serves as recognition from my peers of all the work that I’ve been doing in the field of environment… While I am sure that there are others who are equally deserving of this award, perhaps even more qualified that I am, I still feel grateful knowing that my work is being acknowledged.”

Through the research project, Dr. Espiritu was able to mentor ES students who inspire her as well. “There is no feeling more gratifying than seeing students enter your classroom for the first time seemingly clueless and anxious, watching them progress during the course of the semester in terms of their understanding of the subject matter, and then seeing them leave at the end of the semester transformed and confident. To see them become successful in their chosen fields of expertise is the ultimate reward and source of pride for me.”

This sentiment is reciprocated by students Annie Coronel, Nash Paz, and Pia Ronquillo, who said, “We appreciated that Dr. Espiritu treated us like equals. She truly made us feel like we were ‘environmental scientists.’” Their senior thesis, which was based on the research, won first prize at the School of Science and Engineering Dean’s Award for Basic Research last year. “We felt her love and guidance every step of the way. We will always be honored to have worked alongside such a brilliant woman,” they added.

Indeed, Dr. Espiritu values collaboration and interdisciplinary interaction in their research group. “In the true spirit of doing environmental work, teamwork is key,” she revealed. “Our challenges are quite complex and require multiple approaches in the search for possible solutions. The research on microplastics best exemplifies the benefits of interdisciplinarity in approaching environmental issues.”

The NAST Environmental Science Award is another feather in Dr. Espiritu’s cap. Aside from numerous publication and conference presentation awards, she has also been recognized as an Outstanding Loyola Schools Senior Teacher (2008-2009) by the Ateneo Students and Parents Association, and as an Outstanding Teacher in the Higher Education category by the Metrobank Foundation (2013). She has likewise also served as the department chairperson for both the ES and Biology Departments and was the Associate Dean for Research and Creative Work (2015 to 2018).

The NAST awarding ceremony is scheduled to take place on July 9, 2020, in which Dr. Espiritu will receive a plaque of recognition, a cash prize, and a research grant from the Department of Science and Technology.

LS holds reception for SY 2020-21 Merit and Director’s List Scholars

By Samantha Logarta

The Ateneo Freshman Merit, San Ignacio de Loyola, and Director’s List Scholarship recipients attend the plenary session of the receptions

Bright young minds were invited into the Ateneo de Manila University for the annual events hosted by the Loyola Schools (LS): the Reception for Merit Scholars (February 1, Escaler Hall), and the Reception for Director’s List Scholars (February 8, Leong Hall Auditorium). Every year, the Committee on Admission and Aid searches for the best of the best among the applicants of the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET) and awards these individuals with scholarships upon their acceptance into college.

Accompanied by their parents and friends, a total of 212 incoming college first year students attended both events. Dr. Maria Luz C. Vilches, Vice President for the Loyola Schools, welcomed the batch of incoming scholars, acknowledged their talents, and urged them to join Ateneo in the university’s mission of service and social transformation. Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, University President, shared insights on how Ateneo aims to form leaders of true service to the community through the depth and breadth of its education. Dr. Jose Maria Edito K. Tirol, Director of the Office of Admission and Aid, explained what it meant to be an Ateneo Merit and Director’s List Scholar—the benefits they receive, the grades they should maintain, and the services they may avail of as future members of the LS community.

Fr. Villarin talks about the reasons that helped him choose which university to attend
Dr. Vilches warmly welcomes the students and acknowledges their potential to be men and women of service

A round of information sessions followed, allowing each scholar to attend whichever talk piqued his interest about studying in Ateneo. Mr. Kenneth Isaiah I. Abante (Valedictorian, BS Management Engineering 2012, Academic and Director’s List Scholar) shared his experiences as a scholar in Ateneo, and talked about his life down the hill after having graduated at the top of his class. Mr. Aeron Lester N. Syliongtay (Summa cum laude, BS Psychology 2017, Director’s List Scholar) discussed the “org culture” in Ateneo, and how this strengthened his character and values. Ms. Karen C. Sunico and Mr. Sebastian Felipe R. Bundoc (Director and Coordinator from the Office of International Relations, respectively) explained what the Junior Term Abroad Program was all about, shedding light on the much acclaimed study program that allows Ateneans a holistic type of learning while living in another country.

The afternoons proceeded with talks from the four Deans of the LS, who personally took the time to welcome the scholars, and shared a glimpse of what to expect in terms of academics and their respective degrees. The scholars were also able to get a better understanding of their courses during the departmental course breakouts, where they got to hear from faculty, current students, and alumni. This was followed by a dinner with the deans and faculty, where the students got to ask questions in a more casual setting.

The Ateneo Freshman Merit Scholarship, San Ignacio de Loyola Scholarship, and the Director’s List Scholarship are prestigious grants awarded to the most outstanding students who topped the ACET, and are leaders and agents of change in their respective high schools. The skills, abilities, and values these students exemplify speak highly about who they are. The LS welcomes these scholars who will undoubtedly be exceptional additions to the university!

Three simultaneous info sessions took place in the hopes of further introducing the Ateneo way of life to incoming freshmen scholars
Dr. Tirol introduces the Ateneo Freshman Merit, San Ignacio de Loyola, and Director’s List Scholarship recipients