The Plan was to Stay at Home and Rot in Bed
But Carlos felt like going on a photo walk and asked if I wanted to revisit Ateneo de Manila University. It was no hassle at all, as the old university was just a few minutes’ drive from home (I live near Marcos Highway in Antipolo), so I gave him an okay and prepared my camera for a trip straight to the Church of the Gesu, located near Xavier Hall inside the campus.
I don’t think you’d find any architectural subject in the campus better than this.
The church was designed by Jose Pedro Recio and Carmelo Casas on the small Sacred Heart Hill overlooking Bellarmine Field; the beginning of its construction coincided with my entry into the university in 2001. I witnessed how it was built, and I remember me and my friends kidding that they’re building a massive alien base in between Xavier Hall, Bellarmine Hall, and the Eliazo and Cervini Residence Halls. And during the early stages of its construction, the idea that they’re building something futuristic (and “alien” in a sense, as we haven’t seen many buildings shaped like it before) wasn’t so far-fetched. Heck, we didn’t even know right away that it was a church they’re constructing!
And here we are about a decade later, and the church is standing tall as a statement and icon to both everyone breathing the campus life and outside the Ateneo community. Everything here just flows in and out: from the ceiling to the entrances to the side, from the cross on the exterior to the greens surrounding it. The walkway outside welcomes visitors with ample space to move around, and the ornamental statue of Jesus out in front has its arms invitingly opened wide. Deliberately or not, there’s an abundance of triangles inside and outside the church, perhaps referencing the Holy Trinity while being aesthetically appealing.
It’s said that the angular structure that is the church is an abstraction of an eagle in flight, which of course, is an iconic nod to Ateneo’s symbol, mascot, and athletics teams’ official names: the Blue Eagle.
I don’t think you’d find any architectural subject in the Ateneo campus better than this.
Father Rodrigo D. Perez III of San Beda called it “an inspiring icon of the Ateneo de Manila University” and “a fresh new symbol of an ageless faith.” It’s hard to argue with him – even if just for the novelty of a church constructed differently from most others, it’s conceivable that people would flock to the Church of the Gesu every Sunday.
Visiting the Landmark
Because Ateneo de Manila University is not an open university (thus, visitors are not just allowed to go in and out as they please), you may have to leave an identification card at the guardhouse. The campus has multiple gates and each one has a set of guards on alert; leave your identification with them in exchange for a visitor’s ID, and make sure you track where you’re going as you’ll have to exit through whichever gate you entered earlier.
You should be able to hear mass at the Church of the Gesu every Sunday. Most of the attendees are, of course, students.
Church of the Gesu
Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights
Quezon City, Philippines