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Jesuits ‘On the March’

True-blue Ateneans and lovers of history interested in the background of the Jesuit community that established and maintains the Ateneo schools and missions now have an interesting new resource to explore. 

‘On the March: The Jesuits in the Philippines Since the Restoration’ (2018), records the “recollected, photographed, documented memories of the struggle and the glory of the Sons of St. Ignatius of Loyola—how these intrepid missionaries lived their lives, travelling from place to place bringing the good news,” according to publisher Ramoncito Cruz, founder of Mediawise Communications, Inc./Muse Books.

‘On the March’ is an impressive coffeetable book clocking in at over 250 pages replete with artistic and historic photographs. The book’s three chapters deal with the history of the Jesuits upon their return to the Philippines in 1859, nearly a century after they were expelled, and provide overviews of the various universities, schools, and apostolates they founded.

Chapter 1 has an article by historian Jose S. Arcilla, the book’s principal writer, on the intrepid and pioneering Jesuits who labored in the country. Among those mentioned are Fr. Pablo Pastells and Fr. Horacio de la Costa, who figure prominently in Philippine history.

Pastells corresponded with Jose Rizal in the 1890s, attempting to convince him to return to orthodox Catholicism. De la Costa (1917-1977) was the first Filipino provincial (superior of the Society of Jesus) and an expert on Philippine and Asian history and culture. 

Chapter 2 looks at the Jesuit ministry in education in the Philippines, and gives overviews of Jesuit schools including AdMU, the Ateneo Law School, Ateneo de Zamboanga Univeristy, Ateneo de Naga University, as well as the Loyola House of Studies and the San Jose and St. John Marie Vianney seminaries.

As an alumna, I wish there were an essay on the Ateneo Graduate School of Business—but perhaps that’s for another book.

Chapter 3 surveys different aspects of the Jesuit apostolates, among them the Manila Observatory, the Museo de Parian in Cebu, and the Arete, AdMU’s creative hub for the fine arts. 

Among the most moving pieces is the interview with Fr. Primitivo E. Viray Jr., superior of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. About their current mission focus, he says: “Alleviation of poverty remains a very significant concern. With the Pope’s ‘Laudato Si [2015 encyclical on the environment and climate change], environmental concerns, how to protect the environment, have come up even more. Of course, education remains a priority, continuing with excellence in education.”

Fr. Viray emphasizes the significance of Mindanao as a key area for development: “If you cannot help resolve the difficulties of Mindanao, the country will not go forward…The poorest regions are in Mindanao. Peace and justice issues are there. So we should be paying attention to that, if we want to go forward. That is very clear.”

‘On the March’ was edited by journalist John Nery. Among the writers who contributed essays are Cora Llamas (associate editor), journalist Mike Baños, Fr. Bert Boholst SJ, and Margie Logarta. Manuel Engwa is executive publisher.

The book earned a coveted Platinum Anvil Award at the 54thAnvil Awards held last January 30 at the Marriott Grand Ballroom. Organized by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, Anvils are the ‘Oscars” of the public relations industry in the country, and the Platinum is the highest award it confers. It is given only to projects that stand out among the ‘Gold’ Anvil winners, already the best of the best. 

Cruz, a visual artist, leverages his creative background to produce “elegant, artistic books of substance.” He has produced other books for the Ateneo community: ‘150: The Ateneo Way’, released for AdMU’s sesquicentennial; ‘Veritas Integritas Justitia: 75 Years of the Ateneo Law School;’ and ‘Jesuits in Mindanao: The Mission,’ which have all won International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Quill Awards and Anvils.

Cruz runs a tight ship with his managing editor Rey Albert Fuentes and art director Noel Avendaño, tapping a formidable stable of freelance writers, photographers, and graphic designers to partner with.

For all its diminutiveness as a company, Mediawise has won so many awards for excellence and quality that there isn’t enough display space at their office to show them all off. 

As artifacts, their coffeetable books are magnificently sturdy, satisfyingly hefty, and gloriously attractive. Full-color photographs, art, and illustrations are crisply and sharply reproduced in beautiful detail, while well-written, informative text engagingly explains the subject. ‘On the March’ is the same. 

I leave you with the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Go forth, and set the world on fire.” 

To inquire about ‘On the March’ and other Mediawise books, email Mon Cruz at [email protected] Find me on FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO

Topics: Jenny Ortuoste , Jesuits , ‘On the March’ , Ateneo schools
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