OPINION: UP vs Ateneo: More than a match between best friends

Raïssa Robles

Posted at Dec 01 2018 01:54 PM

Can UP fight a school that has a statue and a building dedicated to a basketball player?

Yes, I am waiting for 3:30 PM today.

No, I am not going to the basketball arena to watch the game live.

But I am breaking off for a while from finishing a deadline to watch the game on TV. With popcorn. And lots of hope that maybe, just maybe, my alma mater University of the Philippines, will win over Ateneo de Manila University.

I have totally mixed feelings about this.

My best friend studied in Ateneo and she got me to join a special English class there run by Fr. Joseph Galdon. I am very grateful to Fr. G for letting me sit in his class for free for two years, and then giving me one-on-one tutorials on writing, especially on letting go when speaking out the truth.

It is true what one fellow on Twitter said—that this game is a match between best friends. Accidentally pitted against each other in friendly rivalry.

Seriously, Ateneo is better prepared for basketball games. While we have a statue of the late actor Fernando Poe, Sr. posing as the naked man selfless in his sacrifice, Ateneo has a statue of one of its late basketball players, Moro Lorenzo. His family dedicated a beautiful gym with an indoor turf for running, a clinic and basketball court.

How about UP? Well, we have a scrappy team right now who does not know when to give up.

#AtinTo, said the UP coach.

Curiously, #AtinTo includes even Ateneo. And the entire Philippines (minus those tiresome trolls, of course). In fact, the student councils of both universities have put out a call for students to attend the match wearing black shirts—to protest the “violence, impunity and misogyny” in our country today.
Although many students from both schools come from different economic backgrounds, there exists a long history of cross-pollination of ideas between the two schools along Katipunan Avenue.

Come to think of it, the street bordering both universities is aptly named “Katipunan”. Both schools have contributed martyrs to the fight against the Marcos dictatorship. Unfortunately, they have also contributed personalities who have set back democracy—UP has Ferdinand Marcos. Ateneo has Joseph Estrada.

Speaking of cross-pollination, I was amused to read that the UP basketball coach Bo Perasol was praying to God for victory. UP has long been known for producing agnostics.

However, a half century ago, Ateneo was able to inject a measure of Christianity in this sectarian school by sending over Fr. John Delaney. The Jesuit, true to his calling, lost no time in building the Church of the Holy Sacrifice.

Ingeniously, Fr. Delaney commissioned four budding Philippine artists who would later became renowned for their craft:

Architect Leandro Locsin—for the flying saucer-shaped building;
Sculptor Napolen Abueva for the dying and risen Christ on the cross above the main altar;
Painter Vicente Manansala for the stations of the cross murals;
Mixed visual artist Arturo Luz for the marble floor depicting the “river of life”.
Today, the Church is a monument to the friendship forged between the two schools and an understanding that both religion and agnosticism can co-exist together.

However, repression of freedoms and human rights  have to be fought together. This is the contribution of UP, which penetrated Ateneo with radical political ideas. For example, when Philippine Military Academy graduate Dante Simbulan went to UP, he not only finished an MA there. He also got exposed to what he called “liberal-progressive” ideas.

In turn, Simbulan inspired the young lieutenant Victor Corpus to break away and join the communist New People’s Army. When Simbulan was kicked out of his PMA teaching post, Ateneo welcomed him as a lecturer.

In my interview with Simbulan in Virginia last year, Simbulan narrated to me that one of his students in Ateneo was student leader Edgar Jopson.

Jopson, who started out as a political moderate, was forced to go underground during Martial Law. Jopson was killed by a Philippine Constabulary team led by Colonel Nelson Estares, who was later promoted to general.

Now this is where it gets to be quite interesting. After Marcos’ ouster, Colonel Estares became one of the key military officials who helped then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte run after criminals and communists.

Last year, Duterte appointed the now-retired General Estares to the post of Undersecretary in the Office of the President. Duterte gave Estares the same mission as before.

So, the political situation has come full circle.

Hence, this post by the Ateneo Student Council:


Meanwhile, as we wait for 3:30 PM, do read this very personal and hilarious post below by @Liv Oliva-NuevaEspaña:



Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.