I’m an Ateneo alumnus. Mention La Salle and our UAAP battle, and my hibernating animosity toward the Green Archers stirs back to life. I want La Salle beaten to a pulp.
It’s an ancient grudge. The animosity began when I entered Ateneo High School in the early ’50s, in the Padre Faura campus.
I came to Ateneo as a shy 13-year-old promdi from the boondocks of Majayjay, Laguna. I spoke carabao English. American Jesuit scholastics from New York promptly transformed me into a creature called an Atenista, an elitist term at the time.
The Jesuits straightened out my bad grammar, and improved my English idioms by making me write daily, imitating well-chosen paragraphs from the novels of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe.
For snob appeal, we studied Caesar’s Gallic War in Latin (Galia divisa est in tres partes), complete with conjugations, declensions and parsing of sentences.
To banish the inferiority complex of promdi boys like me, the Jesuits imbued us with a thing called “The Ateneo Spirit,” a competitive mind-set, a kind of killer instinct, coaxed and activated during the basketball games against La Salle.
At the Rizal Memorial court, we cheered at the top of our lungs until we were hoarse. It worked like magic. Beating La Salle was pure bliss. Moro Lorenzo scored more moon shots. Ning Ramos blocked more La Salle shots. And Choly “Cagayan Cyclone” Gaston stole more balls. Tito Eduque, Ramoncito Campos and Eddie Sharuf were simply exasperated.
When the fight heated up and got physical, bakbakan (rumbles) followed right after the game in the dark alleys of Vito Cruz, right at the backdoor of La Salle. We counted black eyes on Monday mornings.
Ateneo transferred to Loyola Heights in 1953, and I took the B.S. course in Journalism. The Jesuit system of ratio studiorum is a holistic program, loaded with scholastic philosophy, theology, Greek and Roman history, classical literature, theater arts and sports.
The intrepid and globetrotting Jesuits were savvy in branding their educational and formative models. Humanism and eloquence were branded as sapiensa et eloquentia, a sound mind in a sound body was called mens sana et corpore sano, and that palpable Ignatian spirit—for the greater glory of God—was inscripted in letterheads as Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Lux in Domino (Light in the Lord) was the official Ateneo trademark.
Sportswriters tagged our basketball team as “The Hail Mary Quintet” for its propensity to pray Hail Marys during tight moments of the game.
Virgil and Cicero
I realized how distinct we were from La Sallians. While we sweated it out with our epistemology, logic and ontology, the works of Virgil and the speeches of Cicero, the history of the Renaissance and the staging of Shakespeare tragedies, Hamlet and Macbeth, La Salle guys were wrestling with their trigonometry, calculus, accounting sheets, management and banking courses.
Ateneans idolize our iconic alumni. We idolized José Rizal and Gregorio del Pilar for patriotism, and Fr. Horacio de la Costa for intellectual brilliance. In the Senate, Ateneo alumni Soc Rodrigo, Raul Manglapus and Manny Pelaez displayed their political flair. Bert Avellana directed winning films in Asian film fests.
In contrast to Ateneo’s Jesuits, the low-profile Christian brothers of La Salle were not fond of sloganeering. La Salle had a single-minded motto: Moral, Religion, Culture. Very sedate.
La Salle alumni were mostly entrenched in the kastilaloy executive suites of San Miguel Corporation, the Ayala Group of Companies, and multinational local banking institutions.
A banker from La Salle once said Ateneans tend to overrate themselves (hubris?). Why? Are La Sallians unassuming?
In basketball of the late ’50s, no one outhustled Ed Ocampo, outrebounded Frankie Rabat and outshot Bobby Littawa. La Salle flaunted Kurt Bachmann, Rene Wassmer and Henry Ferraren.
In the ’60s, the seeds of nationalism planted by an Atenean intellectual, Sen. Claro M. Recto, bore fruit. Radical students from UP and the university belt in downtown Manila were shouting, “Yankee Go Home!” while burning American flags in front of the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard.
It was fashionable to hate white imperialists, including colonialists of old. My animosity toward La Salle conjured a nationalistic bias directed against the mestizos known as coño kids.
The original coños were Spanish colonialists led by Gov. Gen. Ramon Blanco, who orchestrated the execution by firing squad of Dr. José Rizal in 1896. Rizal happened to be Ateneo’s most illustrious and admired alumnus of all time.
Warranted or not, I entertained the thought that some mestizo coño kids were probable descendants of the Iberian coño men associated with the persecution and death of José Rizal. I wanted revenge, even if only a psychic vengeance. Rizal was not only my brother Atenean, he was also my province mate from Laguna.
Defending honor and glory
We Ateneans knew La Salle hated our guts. Rumor has it that the bitter feud started in 1939, when La Salle beat Ateneo for the NCAA championship. During La Salle’s victory motorcade, they threw fried chickens (fried eagles) in front of the Ateneo Padre Faura gate. Since then, Ateneo-La Salle games became super-hyped, with families of Ateneans and La Sallians joining in one collective show of defending the schools’ honor and glory.
My spy told me that at the recent La Salle 100th anniversary, the most lustily cheered event was a patently anti-Atenean gimmick. On stage, their show ended when the green archer shot an arrow into the air, and lo and behold, a dead blue eagle fell from the sky. (Did TV director and La Sallian Fritz Infante cook this up?)
I say, “Cheap thrill!” Shame on them for using their noble anniversary as a venue for jealousy and hate. (And what would my tisoy critic, Bobby Kraut, say to justify this childish act?)
An Ateneo-La Salle battle in any court is like a duel to death. No mercy. The bitter rivalry can be suspended only when a blue eagle and a green archer play for our country in international games, as exemplified by Ateneo’s Chris Tiu and La Salle’s JV Casio. Chris and JV provide the hustle and shooting power in winning games for the Philippines.
But during Ateneo-La Salle games, Chris and JV join their respective cheering sections. The feud resumes. (I don’t know whose side my friend, ex- J. Walter Thompson big boss J.J. Calero, is on. He studied at both La Salle and Ateneo. Does that mean he’s half-bird, half-man?)
For 2012, we true blue Ateneans go for the five-peat. Nothing less. We’ve got our five turbo-charged mean machines—Slaughter, Ravena, Salva, Buenafe and Tiongson. C’mon guys, do the high fives and blast them all.
Give us a five-peat to honor the late and legendary sports heroes of my time—Moro “Moonshot” Lorenzo, Choly “Cagayan Cyclone” Gaston, Frankie “Rajah of the Rebound” Rabat and Ed “Leech Guard” Ocampo.
Put the incredible five-peat on the pedestal of Ateneo sports. Gimme five!
Do it for us, senior citizen-alumni in our sunset years. We will still shout, “One big fight!” when you go for the kill.