The Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School (AdI-SMCS) is a private, Catholic preparatory school for run by the Society of Jesus' Philippine Province. Its programs are both Chinese and Filipino in character.
From Humble Beginnings...
Expelled from China by the Communist takeover, the Jesuits came to Iloilo in 1953, and started their apostolic work among the local ethnic Chinese community as continuation of their missionary work in Mainland China. 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 barely nine (9) 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). With the Holy Mother as patroness, the Jesuits have embarked on a crucial mission of forming the youth of Iloilo. 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, part of the school was erected on Lopez brothers' lot situated across the street.
The school year 1965-66 was a glorious year as SMCS saw the first batch of graduates from the Grade School Department. SMCS accepted its first batch of high school freshmen in school year 1966-67. From its founding until 1976, Fr. Joliet, S.J. had been both Director of the school and the Pastor of the parish. In 1968, the Philippine government recognized SMCS as Filipino school with a comprehensive Chinese language program. Within the same year, Fr. Felix Maliza, another Spanish Jesuit, became the Principal of the school. And Tender Years
SMCS held its first high school graduation in March 1970. A total of 18 students received their diplomas. Fr. Maiza, whose short term as a principal ended in the same year., was replaced by Fr. Albert Ricard, a French Canadian Jesuit who also acted as school Director. From nine pupils, SMCS had na unprecedented rise in the number of students when it accepted a total of 615 enrollees for high school alone. 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 enrolment 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, enrolment started picking up as freshmen were again allowed to enroll for the school year 1972-73.
In 1971, Fr. Peter Ignatius Li, S.J. arrived to fill in the shoes of parish priest and school Director while Fr. Ricard maintained his position as Principal for seven more years. In 1978, Fr. John Chi, S.J. was appointed Director - Principal of the School.
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. Superior and parish priest of the Sta. Maria community added a new wing to the school in 1977.
Despite the limitations of a constricted space, SMCS's physical complex continued to grow under the tenure of Fr. Chi. When SMCS celebrated its 25th founding anniversary in 1983, various development such as the construction of 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 schooll were renovated and a conference room was added.
To A Renewed Vision
The merging of the China Province Jesuits in the Philippines and the Philippine Province Jesuits in 1988 facilitated the missioning of Filipino Jesuits to the three Chinese-Filipino schools: Xavier School (San Juan, Metro Manila), Sacred Heart School-Jesuit (Cebu) and the Santa Maria Catholic School (Iloilo). In June 1991, Fr. Renato Puentevella, S.J. succeeded Fr. Chi as Director - Principal. During his five-year term, 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. 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 November 1999, SMCS applied for PAASCU re-accreditation and was granted five years.
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. For the school year 2004-05, Mrs. Aurora de la Cruz was appointed Principal of the high school department. 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.
Of A Higher and More Noble Dream
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 is in the offing.
As Santa Maria Catholic School continues its existence, it does so with renewed commitment to its mission: the Christian education and formation of the youth in Iloilo and Panay especially the Chinese Filipino youth. Thus it strives to endow them with necessary skills and tools for further development of their potential; to imbue them with values and ideals that reflect a genuine concern for participation in nation-building; and to inspire them by the personal example of Christ our Lord to become "men and women for others" in search for MAGIS for MORE in service and excellence.
To be able to answer this call and to better equip the students for the challenges of the future and the society where they will serve as builders and leaders, managers and movers, a great leap forward must be taken. It is an aspiration tempered by a deep faith in the benevolence of the Almighty that whatever endeavor, if undertaken in His name, shall see success and fruition.
Of Serving and Loving, In All
In April 30, 2004, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Jesuit Father Provincial Romeo J. Intengan, Fr. Manuel A. Uy Jr., S.J. Director of SMCS, and Mr. Victor F. Pison of the Kauturan Pison Development Corporation (KAPIDECO). Archibishop Angel N. Lagdameo of the Archdiocese of Jaro and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, an Ateneo de Manila alumnus, witnessed the MOA signing which formalized the establishment of an Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School in its new location in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. As Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School moves forward, it hopes to be a beacon of light in the Visayas by promoting a deeply Christo-centric spirituality while maintaining its first mission of ministering to the Chinese-Filipino community in Iloilo.
Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School aims to form leaders who are Christ-centered; men and women of competence, conscience, compassion, community, character and culture.
Philosophy and Objectives
As a CATHOLIC School, Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School aims to form men and women with regard to their ultimate goal - God - and concurrently, with regard to the good of those societies of which they are members and in whose responsibilities they will have to share.
As a JESUIT School, Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School is inspired by the Ignatian vision of the "Magis" (the More), and therefore pursues academic excellence among its students, instilling in them a commitment to the service of others.
As a CHINESE-FILIPINO School, Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School fosters the harmonious integration of the Filipino and Chinese cultural values and tradition leading our students to become better and more effective citizens of the society.
The ideal Atenean is embodied by the seven (7) Cs: Competence, Culture, Compassion, Conscience, Character, Community and Christ-Centeredness.
"Competence" refers to the Atenean's "Functional Self", his/her knowledge and skills to enable him/her to perform diverse tasks and carry various responsibilities.
Academic Excellence: An Ateneo graduate has acquired the habit of logical and critical thinking; a certain ease and facility in expression, both oral and written; a capacity to adapt and apply himself/herself to the task at hand, at the same time giving evidence of his/her knowledge and mastery of those subjects which shall prepare him/her for further studies. Through "Magis", he/she has a certain allergy to mediocre work and has a spirit of a generous striving to do more.
Well-Roundness: The ideal Atenean goes beyond academic concerns and includes the following: an awareness and appreciation of the arts: a familiarity or even mastery of basic athletic skills through participation in sports; all of which must lead to be formation of a total person who is the product of a truly liberal, humanizing, and well-rounded education.
Openness to Growth and Learning: An Atenean is responsible for his/her own growth. He/She is beginning to reach out to further development of his full potentials, and is constantly seeking opportunities to develop his personality, sharpen his/her intellect and other sensibilities. He/She realizes that in life, what is important is "learning how to learn."
This is the Atenean's "Historical Self", his/her identity as shaped by his roots and his present culture.
Rootedness In the Chinese-Filipino Culture: As a Chinese-Filipino school founded by the Jesuit missionaries from China, it is hoped that the Atenean will have a growing appreciation of his Chinese-Filipino culture, with a working knowledge of Chinese history and some facility in the language.
Rootedness in Filipino and Ilonggo Culture: An Atenean is conscious of himself/herself as a Filipino and as an Ilonggo. He feels that he belongs - and must contribute - to the Philippine society and the Iloilo community in particular. He/she acquires a better understanding of his/her own identity, and is growing more deeply aware of all the values, the customs and traditions that govern and influence his/her personal life. Despite globalization, he/she is able to retain his identity as a Filipino.
This refers to the Atenean's "Social Self". This refers to the dimension of service, especially the service to the poor.
This refers to the "Spiritual Self", which includes - but is not limited to - his moral life.
Moral Reasoning: An Atenean is ruled by a well-educated conscience. Moral reasoning requires careful discernment, but must begin with a desire and commitment to do what is good and right.
Habit of Reflection: This involves the value of reflection that should accompany every Atenean's experience to be able to see the meaning and consequence of one's experience.
This is the "Psycho-Emotional Self". This consists of:
Self-knowledge and Acceptance: The Atenean possesses a realistic knowledge and acceptance of oneself. He/she appreciates his/her God-given gifts and as a sign of gratitude, develops them to the fullest. At the same time, however, he is conscious of his/her weaknesses and shortcomings, and accepts these even as he tries to improve himself/herself in every way that he/she can.
Self-Mastery and Discipline: An Atenean continues to make an effort of acquiring a mature sense of responsibility for his actions lending support to external structures, as well as finding support in them. He/she learns to appreciate the value of order, harmony and efficiency in life.
"Community" refers to the "Social Self" of the Atenean, the ability to be with people and to work with them.
Ability to Work with Others: The Atenean has developed his interpersonal skills to the degree that not only has he learned to be comfortable with people but also to work with them in a peaceful and effective manner.
Ability to Influence and Lead Others for the Good: He/She is skilled in managing group processes and use these skills to lead others to recognize and to do what is good and what is right.
Acceptance of - and Respect For - Others: The desire to get along with others and his/her smooth interpersonal skills are rooted in a fundamental recognition of every human person's dignity.
Christ-Centeredness is the characteristics of an Atenean, which encompasses all of the other qualities. An Atenean's formation is based on the deep experience of God's love that leads to a personal conversion and a commitment to Christ's mission. Everything that he/she does is for the greater glory of God - Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG)
THE BLUE DRAGON as a symbol of the Ateneo de Iloilo - Santa Maria Catholic School School.
The Chinese Dragon stands for valor, heroism, and excellence. Dynamic, decisive and determined, it embodies the virtues of discipline, integrity, and fortitude. The Ateneo de Iloilo - SMCS hopes to form its students in the same world, helping them grow to become men and women of Character.
The Oriental Dragon not only has the power to soar the heavens in wingless flight - it has also mastered the waters and is equally agile on land. Similarly, the Ateneo de Iloilo - SMCS graduates are persons of Competence, skilled in many fields and is open to learning more and developing themselves even more fully.
Instead of sowing terror and fear, Eastern Dragons inspire wisdom and beauty. The Dragons of Chinese lore are admirers of music, lovers of literature, and creatures of the arts. In the same way, Ateneo de Iloilo - SMCS students are persons of Culture, rooted in their Chinese-Filipino and Ilonggo heritage.
The four great rivers of China (Heilongjiang, Huangshe, Yangtze, and Pearl Rivers) are believed to be descended from Four Dragons who sacrificed themselves to send rain on the parched land and provide rivers and lakes for the earth. Ateneo de Iloilo - SMCS students aspire to be persons of Compassion, guided by a well-rounded Conscience as they give their gifts, and themselves to their Community.
Dragons are depicted in different colors. The Ateneo de Iloilo - SMCS has chosen the Blue Dragon in honor of the School's Patroness, Mary, under the title Our Lady of China. For the Ateneo de Iloilo - SMCS, the shiny pearl possessed by the Blue Dragon symbolizes the Pearl of the Great Price, Jesus Christ. With God's grace, Ateneo de Iloilo graduates will hopefully be able to "Sell everything they have" to gain this most valuable treasure.
Thus, the Blue Dragon is a fitting symbol of the Ateneo de Iloilo - SMCS: Character, Competence, Culture, Compassion. Culture, Compassion, Conscience, Community, and Christ-centeredness. the Blue Dragon's dream is "In Omnibus Amare et Servire - In All Things to Love and to Serve."
In chief azure, the capital letters "AM" argent. Below, perpale. Dexter: argent, the wolves-and-pot of Loyola, sable. Sinister: gules, a stone fort, or. Above the shield, a medallion, or, the three capital letters I H S and three nails fanwise, or. From the medallion, rays, or. Below the shield, a scroll with the motto: "IN OMNIBUS AMARE ET SERVIRE". The whole enclosed by two semicircular scrolls. The upper with the words " ATENEO DE ILOILO." The lower with "Santa Maria Catholic School."
The shield is divided into three parts, respectively 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, symbolic of the fact that Jesus is the light of the World whose teachings should illumine all mankind.
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 original name of the school since its foundation: SANTA MARIA CATHOLIC SCHOOL.
Hail Alma Mater
Our Santa Maria School
For you we offer
Joys of tender years
The days for us to come
May bring us far away from you
Yet your memories we will cherish
We are from Santa Maria
we are proud to say so
For it is Santa Maria
Cradle of our Youth
Other school just may be as good
But none can pass us by
It's always Santa Maria
For whom we do sigh!