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Book “Bicol Magis”, Looking Back At Ateneo de Naga’s Last 75 Years

Ateneo (250x187)A book of personal reflections and anecdotes of 28 selected Ateneo de Naga University graduates from different batch years, spanning Ateneo de Naga’s 75 years of history, will be launched by the Ateneo de Naga University Press on July 31, feast day of St. Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. The book launch will be held at Xavier Hall in the Ateneo de Naga main campus.

It will start at 9:00 AM with the blessing of the Ateneo de Naga University Press Bookstore. Soon after, Fr. Jun Viray, SJ, university president, will give the welcome remarks, followed by a short program. Several contributors from Manila and Naga will be present for the book signing.

Titled “Bikol Magis: From Childhood Days to Youthful Years,” the book will be launched as part of the Ateneo @ 75 celebrations. It is the first book of its kind that will chronicle the experiences of Ateneo students and how these experiences built their character.

It is also a fitting tribute to Ateneo de Naga University as it celebrates its 75th year of service as an educational institution. The 28 alumni and alumnae, a heady mix of mostly familiar names in the community, wrote about the dreaded Jug and Post, the much anticipated Night League, their encounters with their lay and Jesuit teachers, their military training experience, the nerve-wracking Whack-Whack Room, and a host of other school activities that have left an imprint in their respective character formations.

The editors are Rolly Borjal and Greg Castilla. Both are graduates of the Ateneo de Naga High School, Class 1966 and Ateneo de Manila University. Borjal, a prolific writer, is a former editor-writer of Jug and Post, ADNAA-Manila chapter’s newsletter.

He was also the associate editor of the book, “INA – Little Stories of Faith.” Presently, he is the corporate secretary of some twenty companies owned by a Davao businessman. Castilla, former editor of the Blue and Gold and An Maogmang Lugar, is the author of three books and his articles have appeared in various publications. He has a regular column in Bicol Mail, Fil-Am Bulletin (Seattle) and Bayanihan News (Australia).

He currently teaches at the Ateneo de Naga University Graduate School, University of Nueva Caceres, and Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity College Seminary in barangay Cararayan.

Among the contributors who shared their personal stories were 1947 high school graduate Honesto General; 1957 high school graduate Chito Villegas; 1959 high school graduate Brig. General (ret.) Juan Gonzales, Jr.; 1961 high school graduate Monico Jacob; 1972 high school graduate Luis Ruben General; 1985 high school graduate Fr. James Castro; 1994 college graduate Marge Fajardo; 2002 high school graduate Jay Salvosa; and 2014 college graduate Kristiana Michaela Embate. Honesto General, the oldest among the 28 contributors, recalls how before the 1941 Christmas break, Fr. Francis Burns, SJ, then the high school principal, announced to the students that they would return to the new Ateneo campus after the break.

But it did not happen because the Japanese used the present Ateneo campus as their headquarters, where Filipino captives were tortured and killed. Queborac, the lot adjoining the campus, became the burial ground. Kristiana Embate, the youngest contributor, has this to say about her experience as former editor of The Pillars, the Ateneo de Naga University college school paper, “I can say that all these experiences made me a better person.

From being shy and insecure, I became determined and principled, learned to fight for the oppressed, learned to look at things from a different perspective, and learned to talk with depth and reason.” The stories of the 28 contributors are quite candid and personal and, therefore, positive in their tone.

The book is intended for the thousands of Ateneo de Naga University graduates who want to revisit the past and see themselves through the compelling stories of the various contributors.

It will also appeal to non-Ateneans who want to take a glimpse of what the “secrets” are behind Ateneo’s success in molding its students during the past 75 years.

The book will soon be available at the Ateneo de Naga University Bookstore. For those who are in Canada and in the United States, they can email Allen Nidea at if they want to buy a copy of the book. The retail price is $12.00 plus $3.00 for shipping and handling.