The ivory tower that is the Ateneo de Manila University

It’s nothing short of a memetic explosion. Get Real Post articles that dissected and, in the process, eviscerated the ill-conceived conceptual foundation of a statement released by the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) faculty, denouncing Martial Law “historical revisionism” and baldly accusing Philippine senator and vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos of “brutality” have strongly-resonated amongst the Philippines’ young voters.


Many observers have noted that this strong challenging of the edicts of this hallowed elite Catholic institution of learning is long-overdue. The ADMU has long stood tall as a bastion of progressive thought — or so its officers and student body would like to believe. Though the Ateneo community boasts a long track record of activism, most notedly their participation in the uprisings that led to the 1986 “people power revolution”, the possibility that this stance and the thinking that underpin its interpretation of history may now be obsolete. At the heart of this obsolescence is the idea that “the Martial Law years” — a catch-all phrase that is used to describe the period over which former President Ferdinand Marcos ruled — is a singular cause of the failure of the Philippines to progress.

Part of the frustration and, now, defensiveness of the once glorious champions of Yellow-branded “freedom” can be traced back to the core of the euphoria that permeated Philippine society in the 1980s — the misguided thinking that the Philippines, after the collapse of “the Marcos regime”, held infinite promise of progress and a triumph of justice presumably fuelled by the “freedom” it had “won” and the “democracy” its champion, then President Cory Aquino had “restored”.

Unfortunately, history, as it unfolded, did not necessarily empathise with this “hope” Filipinos harboured in the midst of that euphoria. The 30 years that followed the 1986 “revolution” had proven that the so-called “lack of freedom and justice” that these activists insisted characterised the Marcos years was not the real cause of the Philippines’ inability to join the ranks of its prosperous neighbours in the region. Whilst Filipinos soaked up the freedom that was available in excess since 1986 to churn out brain-killing entertainment, elect morons into public office, and seal the Yellow brand of the Aquinos as the de facto franchise holder of this “freedom” and “democracy” that marked those three decades, the nation sunk deeper into degeneracy.

The problem, however, is that this nationwide groupthink persisted in Philippine society like a deadly cancer. It prevented even the finest Filipino minds from stepping out of the din of chatter emanating from the clique once known as the Philippine “intelligentsia” to regard the situation from an outsider’s perspective. The Ateneo de Manila University counts itself as one of the stalwarts of this groupthink, but it had long ago become sloppy in its approach thanks to a lack of a will to challenge its own belief systems and allowing itself to become cocooned in a paradigm well past its use-by date.

This is an ironic condition for an institution that routinely encourages its students to reflect and go into periodic “retreats” where one could induldge in luxurious meditation and exercises in self-actualisation. Perhaps the key ingredient missing in these efforts to enhance mindfulness of one’s surroundings is to remain open to inquiry and challenge. Do Ateneans really learn from all those immersion activities where members of both student and faculty come “down from the hill” to expose themselves to the challenges of the poor in programs like Tulong Dunong (“help with knowledge”)?

Evidence of a yawning gap between theory and intent and actual practice is in the attitude Ateneans have taken towards the brilliant and groundbreaking articles Get Real Post had, in recent days, put out there to challenge the Ateneo faculty statement against Senator Marcos’s alleged “historical revisionism” efforts. Some faculty members engaging the authors of these articles in social media have downright refused to read the articles themselves claiming that doing so will “contribute undeserved traffic” to Get Real Post. Some have retreated into that zone of comfort where Atenistas have long been legendary — grammar Nazism. Indeed, many Ateneo scholars have long tales of woe to tell surrounding the ostracism they receive from paying Ateneo students who make a sport of nitpicking on and making fun of their grammar gaffes and inability to deliver a natural Arrrneeoouww accent that, we are told, is a mark of a “true Atenean”.

Therein that refusal to engage intelligently with people who beg to differ lies the downfall of the Ateneo. Singing about coming “down from the hill” will certainly not ameliorate a strong tradition of institutionalised elitism that closes the impressionable minds of the kids of the country’s top taipans and politicians that pay mega bucks to have their kids educated by the Jesuits in the hills of Loyola Heights.

Perhaps this episode (and there will be many more to come) should be regarded by the Ateneo community as a call to action. Rather than shrink away from the matter of the perceptions (fair or unfair) of elitism they cop from the broader Philippine public, Ateneans should be that “man for others” they fancy themselves to be and confront with courage these perceptions with an open mind and a measure of that self-reflection they supposedly learned in their classrooms.

[Photo courtesy PhilStar.]


Post Author: benign0

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105 Comments on "The ivory tower that is the Ateneo de Manila University"

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Not surprising really, the Catholic Church’s agenda is to keep people in the dark.


Ah yes, cancer at its finest

Arvin Boller
Medyo na-irita ako sa post, so here goes At dahil baka matawag akong “elitista” ng nagsulat nito, isinulat ko ang aking mga pananaw sa tagalog Pasensya na, pero mas sanay ako sa tagalog na pananalita at hindi sa sulat, baka may mali ako sa grammar Pero ito, sinbukan kong sagutin ang bawat talata ng post. “It’s nothing short of a memetic explosion. Get Real Post articles that dissected and, in the process, eviscerated the ill-conceived conceptual foundation of a statement released by the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) faculty, denouncing Martial Law “historical revisionism” and baldly accusing Philippine senator and… Read more »
I don’t know… I have a lot of Ateneans on my social media new feeds and majority of the posts are critiques (rather than rude angry bashing) of the other article. When I say critiques, I mean direct questioning and engagement with the other article. Quite unlike this article, wherein your main argument is that Ateneans are elitist so therefore most of them don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ll have you know that some Ateneans are FOR Bongbong Marcos and even against the statement of some of their professors. Emphasis some. Do not generalize, it will get you nowhere.… Read more »
dan lakan

May mga taong hindi naman Marcos loyalist at lalong hindi Maka Cory o kalaban ng Demokrasya ang sukang suka sa mga sinasabi ng mga taong akala mo lagi na lang sila ang tama at monopolya na nila ang tamang katwiran na parang bang mga prayleng sila lamang ang nakakausap sa Diyos na ang katwiran ng iba ay balintuna. Wag na tayong bumalik sa nakaraan mahalin natin ang sarili natin tama na sa dikta ng oligarkiya, simbahan at mga kolonista.


Yes, fine, you can use big words. All of them pointed to nothing more than “Ateneo is a bad institution” with no substantial argument. This post can, to some, pass as a form of dialog, but upon closer inspection, it’s just a big mass of empty prose. Arvin Boller is right. If you ever plan to conquer a so-called ivory tower, then at least make your offensive logically-driven and solidly reasonable. This is pitiful.

Zach Yonzon

Wait, wait, wait … even after several paragraphs, all I read was, “I’m a Marcos era revisionist”.

Or maybe you’re just a contrarian who likes to disagree even though the point is actually, “the Marcos era was very bad,” without saying “the following years were good”

Those two stances aren’t actually mutually exclusive.

Juan Bonifacio

Eto, gagamit din ako ng ad hominem… “Nag-Google Translate lang ata yang si benignO eh kaya akala mo diksyunaryo.” Wala namang laman mga argumento nya.

I mean, the whole point of the statement against Martial Law was that its negative contribution to Philippine society is NOT a matter of opinion, namely that due to evidence, there is beyond reasonable doubt that Martial Law was detrimental to the country in many ways (GDP, inflation, sheer human rights violations, starvation, etc.) That this dude over here takes that as a sign that Ateneo isn’t willing to challenge its own viewpoints misses the point that this whole debacle in history is a terrible thing from pretty much every reasonable empirical/objective based viewpoint. And saying having the “Aquino oligarchy”… Read more »
Goodluck with your life sir!
Goodluck with your life sir!
Sir with all due respect how you view years of studying, sacrifice, and effort is very insulting and if i may shallow. We’re not patronizing ANY political agenda or interest. Doing so won’t really do us any good. We would rather just spend our time doing our thesis or studying for finals. Yet most of us feel that it is our duty to be able to respond to such blatant gestures of apathy and detachment from Mr. Marcos. Not once in the paper did the faculty attack the person of Mr. Marcos or even his family. Doing so would be… Read more »
“For the greater glory of God”…is the motto of the Jesuits, who founded and is managing the educational institution;ADMU. Nazi Germany Minister of Propaganda Joseff Goebbels, was a student of the Jesuits. Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, was a Roman Catholic. I am not surprised why the ADMU faculties, prostituted themselves for: Aquino, Mar Roxas, and the Liberal Party. To promote the Aquino political agenda against Marcos Martial Law. An institution committed to intellectual research, and unbiased search for the Truth, must not promote political propaganda, of any party or any politician. There are more pressing issues other than resurrecting the… Read more »
Bana B
Magandang araw, mula sa isang mag-aaaral sa unibersidad inyong itinutukoy sa artikulo. Ako’y nagsusulat sa wika ng aking bansang kinagisnan dahil mas bihasa ako dito… Napakalalim naman ng mga salitang iyong binitiwan. Subalit ni-isa sa mga ito ay hindi matatakpan ang kawalan ng saysay nitong artikulong ito, ni-matatapatan ang katotohanang ang mga Atenista ay nakikibahagi sa isang matalinong diskusyon ukol sa mga artikulong nagdaan. Tila isang panunuya sa pangalan ng website na ito ang mga artikulong inyong inilathala ukol sa mga Atenista at ang mga edukadong gurong nagtuturo sa unibersidad. Kung nais niyong gisingin ang bansa sa katotohanan (ayon nga… Read more »

Troll alert.


Ano to? Nag expect ako ng mga kapani-paniwalang argumento. Karamihan lang naman pala nito mga walang laman na panirang puri sa mga Atenista. Hindi man lang patago. Halatang halata siya agad. Hindi man lang nagbigay ng mga sapat na datos. Mga opinyon lang din ang karamihan. Tila gusto lang nito manginis ng mga sa nabanggit na unibersidad. Wag nalang patulan ‘to, wala rin mararating.


i didn’t know till lately that the Tribune is a yellow propagandist. how could Grace acquired a dead man’s SSN? once you’re dead the government deletes a dead man’s SSN. so, will the SC disqualify Grace for the admin to declare martial law? no they won’t do that. martial law will be base on what’s happening in mindanao they will create chaos ‘cuz they can’t afford to let go Hacienda Luisita, it’s worth dying for.

One thing I just thought about. Let’s say the Ateneo Faculty succeed in raising anti-Marcos sentiment on a wider scale. Some people might go on to bully or harass pro-Marcos people, to the point that banning pro-Marcos sentiments will happen. Or people will try to block pro-Marcos people they know from voting on the day. That is what you call violation of freedom of speech (and other freedoms). Too bad people these days (especially Yellows) don’t believe in Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s (not Voltaire’s) words: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to… Read more »

if there is a revision of what happened during martial law, it’s the yellows who wanted it and not Bongbong. the mess started at hacienda luisita why the aquinos’ are hungry for power. Marcos just did the right thinking to defend his motherland from communist takeover.


Well, if these are the arguments, then I’m clearly happy of being a princess in an “ivory tower.”


Nakakaumay magbasa ng reply ng mga Atenista. Panay butthurt replies. Is this what they call the Ateneo way?