Blessing of ADDU’s New Chapel and Buildings


[President’s statement in Program for the Blessing of the Ateneo de Davao University’s University Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Community Center of the First Companions, and the Martin Hall. December 30, 2015, 9:30 am)]


We are grateful to you for gracing this happy event with your presence.  We are especially grateful to His Grace Archbishop Romulo Valles, D.D., Archbishop of Davao, who will preside over this morning’s Eucharist Celebration and the subsequent blessings, assisted by the Very Rev. Fr. Antonio Moreno, S.J. Provincial Superior of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, other members of the Jesuit community, the religious, and the local clergy.  We welcome all our guests from near and far.


The University Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption

Our intention was to provide the Ateneo de Davao University community with a place of worship and prayer that would support both its catholicity in the multi-ethnic context of Mindanao and its culture of Ignatian spirituality.

Fr. Gabriel Gonzalez, S.J. and Archt. Vincent Martin “Veepee” Pinpin gave the original shell provided by Arch. Christopher Ong a thorough work over.  They assembled the artists, artisans and technical people who collaborated admirably – recently under Engr. Allan Medina – to create this sacred space.  In the design, the faith in Mindanao is celebrated.  In indigenized sacred art, the transcendent mysteries of the Word-made-flesh are re-presented in the cultural symbols and flavors of Mindanao.

The visual centerpiece is the gift of the Lizada and Aarts families: the great crucifix carved by Paloy Cagayat of Paete.  The massive 9-foot batikuling corpus on a narra cross re-presents Jesus with great sensitivity as one among us in Mindanao (cf. John 1:14).  Cagayat presents the crucified Jesus with eyes open, peering into the soul of the beholder.  His mien is of compassion, forgiveness and peace.  The masterpiece supports the Ignatian spirituality nurtured in the Ateneo de Davao.  In a central meditation of the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, linking it crucially to the Second Week, Ignatius invites the exercitant to enter into a conversation with the Crucified Lord.  Moved by what Jesus on the Cross has done for him or her in love, the exercitant responds with three questions: “What have I done for you?  What am I doing for you?  What ought I do for you?”  That is a conversation of love and deeds of love that shall continue in the silence of this chapel.

Complementing the crucifix, Cagayat provides two statues, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, and Our Lady of the Assumption, patroness of Ateneo de Davao University and particularly of the University Chapel. Mary is re-presented as one among us in Maranaw-inspired attire.  Both statues point to the centrality of the crucified Lord.

Brass is central in Mindanao’s celebration and music.  The chapel’s liturgical centerpiece crafted masterfully by Juan Sagid Imao is the altar of brass on stainless steel for the Liturgy of the Sacrifice, complemented by the ambo for the Liturgy of the Word.  The curves and flourishes of exquisite Muslim-influenced okir adorn the altar, the ambo, the presider’s chair, the tabernacle, the lectern, the sanctuary lamp, the monstrance, the thurible, the incense boat, the paschal candle stand and the processional candles and cross, all of which are the gifts of Joe Mari and Mary Ann Chan.  Distinctive of Sagid Imao’s okir for this chapel is the subtle celebration of the Davao eagle.

The altar treasures a first-class relic of St. Ignatius of Loyola provided by Fr. Jose Quilongquilong, S.J., rector of Loyola House of Studies and president of Loyola School of Theology. Priests’ vestments done with Tboli tinalak.

The six heavy doors of the chapel are also provided by Sagid Imao in cured brass on stainless steel.  The thematic okir beautifully decorating the doors also accents the cross of the great crucifix.

Coming through the front door, one is welcomed by the delicate re-presentation of the Mother Mary painted in oil by the gifted Davao artist, Mark Tolentino.  Muslim believers deeply revere Mary with us as Sitti Maryam.  It is Mary that leads all to her son.

Mark Tolentino also provides two massive murals of indigenized art.  The first is of Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth (Lk 4:16-30) re-presented as a teacher in a Tausug langal (native chapel). Note the beautiful baluy talang (mat).   Jesus presents his mission:  he has been sent “to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”  But Jesus is rejected by his own; “no prophet is welcome in his own town“ (Lk 4:24).  Because of their lack of faith, he cannot work his miracles among them.  They seek to murder him.

This mural is complemented by the second, “Jesus and the Samaritan Woman” (Jn 4:4-26), re-presented by Mark Tolentino in Tausug attire.  She is carrying water in a dagtung (bamboo water container), and Jesus is receiving it in a ba’ung (coconut shell).  The triple parasol depicts nobility.  As a Jew, Jesus was not supposed to talk to a Samaritan because of religious differences. But he initiates a dialogue based on shared humanity.  He is thirsty.  He asks for water.  Despite the cultural barrier, she responds humanely.  She gives him water.  In their unlikely dialogue, Jesus discloses who his is: “If you only knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’… I am he, [the Messiah whom you await]” (Jn 4:25-26).   Because he knew her intimately, she believed him.  She told people about her experience of him and led them to believe him.  In the first mural, Jesus’ proclamation of his mission to his own townspeople leads to rejection.  In the second mural, Jesus dialogue with a Samaritan woman leads to faith.  In Mindanao, evangelization is accomplished in dialogue.

On the ponderous 18 x 1.2 meter beam facing the altar is the extraordinary painting of the same size by Davao’s veteran painter, Bong Espinosa, depicting the SalubongThe piece depicts the encounter between the Risen Lord and the Sorrowing Mother, also a heartwarming meditation of the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises. Jesus leads a procession composed of joyful representatives of major indigenous peoples of Mindanao.  Mary’s procession is of the unredeemed world of sin, violence and death despairing in the death of their redeemer.  Through the encounter of death and death-defeating Life, the veil of sadness is removed from Mary.  The painting depicts hope in the Resurrection in Mindanao.

Against the cold glass and steel of the work and sports spaces of the other buildings, the sacred space of the Assumption Chapel is clad in Marbyletic limestone, but more commonly known Cebu yellow sandstone, rare in its varied and rich tones; it was specially quarried with love and prayers from a reserved area reopened for this chapel honoring Ignatius of Loyola through the group of Mr. Bryan Manubag whose mother’s maiden name is Loyola.  The sandstone cladding is then complemented by four rich mosaic panels of Yakan fabric provided by Charles Belleza of Belleza Casa Designs of Cebu.

The stations of the cross etched in sandstone are donated by Mr. Bryan Manubag.

Yakan fabric was woven specially by the family of Krishnan Kin Nasser Ilul of Zamboanga.  Its colorful patterns provide the theme not only for the chapel’s mosaics but for all its stained glass windows rendered and installed by Mr. Roland Kraut and his local  Davao associates, Orient Glass. It also accents the pews fabricated in Davao by Timburana, headed by Mr. Milton Cua.

For the proclamation and explanation of the Word of God from the Jesuit ambo in Davao, for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, for shared public prayer and the singing of God’s praises, but also for individual prayer in deep silence, great effort was exerted to achieve acoustic excellence and to create a technically silent chapel under the direction of acoustics expert, Mr. Raymundo Sison of ROS Acoustics Solutions.  He is responsible for the silent air-conditioning, the acoustic panels, and the excellent sound system provided by alumnus Dennis Roy Aballe of Premier AV Automation Davao, Inc.  Mr. Joe Mari Chan donated the high-end Yamaha Clavinova.

Engr. Arman Duron of Techno Engineering Konstaktors installed the air conditioning.  But it was he and his crew who were responsible memorably for the installation of the heavy tabernacle, the oversized Tolentino paintings, the Imao doors the Cagayat statues and the exaltation of the cross.

Mr. Bernie Jereza designed and installed the monitor system to enhance the participation of people in liturgical worship or in shared devotional prayer.  Mr. Edwin Urquia installed the CCTVs for security.

For all of the buildings, landscaping by Archt. J. Immanuel “Jim” Palma, a work in progress.


The Community Center of the First Companions

Our intention was to provide the Ateneo de Davao University a facility which would enhance communication and community between the Jesuits, the tertiary-level faculty, and the students within the university and to provide vibrant contact with the larger community which Ateneo de Davao serves through research, community engagement and advocacy.  Through shared Ignatian spirituality the facility is to support friendship in shared mission.  It is named after the three first companions of the Society of Jesus:  Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier and Peter Faber.

11th Floor. The Calungsod-San Vitores Center. (Board of Trustees’ Room. The Heritage Hall. Ceremonial Dining Lounge and Dining Room. Archives.

10th Floor. Ignatius Hall. (The Jesuit Residence).

9th Floor. Faber Hall. (The University Guest Tract)

8th Floor. Xavier Hall. (University Research Council. University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council)

7th Floor. Regis Hall. (Academic Vice President. Ignatian Spirituality and Formation Offices)

6th Floor. De la Costa Hall. (Faculty. Departments.)

5th Floor. Campion Hall. (Faculty Work Spaces)

4th Floor. Pignatelli Hall. (Faculty Work Spaces. Bridges to Martin Hall, Finster Hall)

3rd Florr. Ricci Hall. (Dialogue Center)

2nd Floor. Miguel Pro Learning Commons (Student Study Area)

1st Floor. Mezzanine. (Prayer Rooms adjoining Chapel)

Ground Floor. Rodriguez Hall. (Lobby. Sacristy. Chapel Side Entrance)


The Martin Hall

Our intention was to provide Ateneo de Davao University with a facility that would better meet the sports and athletic requirements of its 9,000-plus tertiary-level community and to provide the university an assembly hall for large-scale academic convocations, liturgies, graduations and encounters with the larger community.  The facility would also promote easier student interaction and house the student government and the Office of Student Affairs.  It is named in honor of Fr. Edgar Martin, a memorable Jesuit exponent of Ateneo sports and athletics.

7th Floor. Reuter Hall. (Volleyball, Basketball. Jogging Track. Athletics’Café))

6th Floor. Faura Hall (P.E. Area. Jogging Track)

5th Floor. Cawley Hall (Fitness Center)

4th Floor. Multi-Purpose Assembly Hall, Stage. / Basketball. PE Areas.

3rd Floor. Parking (Faculty and Administrators)

2nd Floor. Parking (Students)

1st Floor. Mezzanine. (Office of Student Affairs, Samahan Student Government, Commercial Spaces)

Ground Floor. Lobby. Student Plaza.

The construction of these buildings was approved in 2012 by the Ateneo Board of Trustees under the chairmanship of Mr. Paul Dominguez on my recommendation as University President. It was further approved by Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, General Superior of the Society of Jesus on recommendation of Fr. Jose Magadia as Provincial Superior of the Philippine Province.  It was possible under the leadership of Fr. Daniel McNamara, SJ, rector of the Jesuit community that gave up its old residence for the apostolic intentions that these buildings. It was also possible through the ongoing consent of Mr. Sanjo Dacudao who agreed to grant the ADDU usufruct of his property on which part of Martin Hall is constructed.

The architect was Christopher Ong.  The lead contractor was HRCC represented by Engr. Willie Ho, Engr. Allan Parrone and Archt. Hector Alveztruz.  Management was represented by Engr. Roberto Guyot, Engr. Jason Ornopia and Mr. Jeremy Eliab, General Assistant to the President.

With Mr. Bobby Orig and Mr. Benjie Lizada, immediate past and present chairs of the ADDU Board of Trustees, and all the members of the Board, we praise the Lord for the gift of these three buildings, and the gift of thousands who labored to build them.  The buildings are blessed today in furtherance of the vision and mission of the Ateneo de Davao University – ad majorem Dei gloriam – unto the greater glory of God!


                                                                                    Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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