Mission & History
The Ateneo student residences, namely, the Cervini Hall (for men) and Eliazo Hall (for women), were built to shelter a dynamic community of resident students who live by the ideals of the Ateneo de Manila University as a Filipino, Catholic and Jesuit institution.
The Cervini and Eliazo halls are in-campus dorminitories primarily for provincial college students. Cervini accomodates 204 male while Eliazo houses 164 female resident students. These residence halls contribute to the vision and goals of the Ateneo de Manila University by providing for its residents an environment conducive to academic learning, spiritual growth and physical well-being; and by forming a dynamic Christian community through active support for socio-cultural awareness and involvement of its members.
Rushing thought the dark buildings of the Ateneo campus, the errant dormers hurriedly made their way through the shortcuts known only to them. Echoing through the empty halls was their fervent prayer, "Please let us get there before the curfew." They heaved tremendous sighs of relief when they saw no sign of the prefect before the still-open of the nipa huts they call home.
Yes, two humble nipa huts housed the first ever Ateneo dormers. In the early days of the Ateneo, students from the provinces lodged in these huts under strict Spanish Jesuit prefects inside the old Intramuros campus. As their number increased, the Jesuits had these torn down to make way for a large residence hall that Dr. Jose Rizal spent his last years in the Ateneo.
In the 1930's, the American Jesuits who took over the Ateneo had around 300 students accommodated in Padre Faura and Intramuros. Aside from the college students, the residence hall then also accommodated boys from the grade school and the high school.
The dormers, under close supervision by Jesuit prefects, had to comply with strict rules and regulations. Every boarder had a guardian - a resident of Manila - named by his parents, who was the only person authorized to take him out. Excursions outside the dorm, called salida (which literally means, to escape) were allowed only on Thursdays and Sundays - and the dormer had to be back in the residence hall by eight o'clock in the evening. They also weren't allowed control over their money - the college treasurer kept and disbursed their allowances through the prefects.
The dormers followed a very regulated routine. Mass was celebrated every morning at six. Meals were taken together. The day was then spent in classes and the only time the students could return to the dorm for siestas was between one to two in the afternoon. Everyone had to be in his respective bed in the large communal bedroom by ten in the evening.
The dormers weren't even free to fraternize among themselves. They were divided into brigades of eight dormers each. One Jesuit prefect and two assistant prefects were assigned to each brigade. Only members of the same brigade were allowed to talk to each other. The prefects' permission was needed to talk to people from other brigades.
The discipline and the responsibility developed in the students proved to be a good thing, however. A fire in Intramuros in August 13, 1932 tested the dormers' mettle and they passed with flying colors. The dorm's oft-rehearsed yearly fire drill proved to be invaluable and nobody was injured during the fire.
After the war, the Jesuits transferred the Ateneo to Loyola Heights in 1952. The administration saw the need for a new dormitory and provided one in the east wing of Loyola Gym. The second and third floors occupied by dormers was then called Bellarmine Hall.
The new Ateneo campus was then made up of the administration building, Xavier Hall, the only college building, Campion Hall and two high school buildings, Kostka and Berchman Halls. When the high school was relocated to its present site in 1956, the swelling college population subsequently occupied these buildings. The gym's east wing was then closed and Campion Hall took its place as the new dormitory. It was later renamed Bellarmine Hall after its predecessor.
Bellarmine Hall's first dormers were all college students: twenty-seven freshmen and twenty-seven upperclassmen. The three-story building was transformed into the ideal dorm: the first floor contained the infirmary, parlor and residence lounge, where the students read newspapers or played ping-pong, chess and Chinese checkers. The former classrooms in the second and third floors were divided into two and each half became a dorm room for four students. The rooms were furnished with two double-decked beds, as well as desks, chairs and cabinets for each occupant.
The dormers remained under the care of Jesuit prefects and much of the routine remained: mass was celebrated daily at six a.m. and everyone had to be in their beds by lights-off at ten p.m. In keeping with the changing times, however, the atmosphere wasn't as strict as that in the previous dorm and the dormers enjoyed more freedom.
Their week started with "Monday morning blues" - when they reluctantly woke up early after the weekend.
Wednesdays saw the dormers updating themselves on the demerits they had acquired so far. Every Friday, they saw in action in the Friday Basketball Night League. Saturdays were spent rooting on "campused" students unlucky enough to be caught hanging out in the dorm.
As the Ateneo population grew, Fr. Francisco F. Araneta, S.J. then rector and president, saw the need for accommodations for the increasing number of students from the provinces and had the gym's east wing reopened. In 1964, three dormitories were in operation in the campus. Aside from Bellarmine hall and the gymnasium, there was Ricci Hall, a temporary residence hall, which housed twenty-four freshmen.
The three-story, Q-shaped building soon became known as the Ateneo Hilton. Indeed, no expense had been spared in making Cervini Hall the ideal dormitory. It boasted of several amenities not found in the old dorm, namely: a swimming pool, two air-conditioned study rooms, two TV rooms, a chapel, a roomy cafeteria and a quadrangle for assemblies and sports matches.
In 1967, work was started on another dormitory near Cervini Hall. Finished a year later, it was named Eliazo Hall after the late Fr. Jose Ma. Eliazo, S.J. The new building was three stories high, air-conditioned and fully furnished in readiness for one hundred fifty-eight occupants. When it was opened, the gymnasium-dorm was closed permanently and Bellarmine Hall again became a classroom building. From 1968 to 1972, Cervini and Eliazo Halls served as the home of Ateneans from all parts of the country.
In 1972, however, Eliazo Hall was closed to students due to a drop in enrollment caused by an increase in tuition fees. The drug problem among Eliazo dormers made matters worse. The building was thus used only for seminars, and Cervini Hall remained the only operating Ateneo dormitory for seven years.
In 1979, Eliazo Hall was once again opened to students. The Ateneo was already accepting female students and to meet their needs, the third floor of Eliazo Hall became the living quarters of the first few female dormers. Their number steadily increased until they occupied the two upper floors, leaving only the first floor for the men. Eliazo Hall eventually became exclusively for women.
Today, Cervini and Eliazo Hall still stand. Two hundred four Cervinians and one hundred sixty-four Eliazoans call it home, along with four female prefects for Eliazo and five male Cervini prefects, headed by dorm director Mr. Timothy Gabuna.
A set of rules still govern the lives of the dormers, but the strict edicts of the previous decades have given way to more liberal regulations. Curfew, for example, is at ten p.m. for freshmen and twelve midnight for upperclassmen on weekdays, and at twelve midnight and two a.m. respectively for freshmen and upperclassmen on weekends. Those who don't make it to the curfew get to be in the DL (Director's List), where their demerits are tallied. There is no set lights-off time, much to the delight of those in the five o'clock club (dormers who study until five a.m.).
The dormers are pretty much free to pursue their own interests. The Cervini-Eliazo Residence Students' Association (CERSA) in cooperation with the dorm administration has various activities designed to make dorm life fun and fulfilling. There is something for everyone such as the Academics Committee, Dorm Choir, Video Committee, Liturgical Committee, Committee on Social Awareness and Involvement, among others.
However, four annual activities remain the main focus of the dormers. These are the dorm orientation for freshmen and non-CERSAns, the dorm Inter-Athletic competition (IAC), the Sportsfest, and the much awaited dorm Open House. The Open House is a two-day activity celebrating the uniqueness of life in the dorm. "College people" get to tour the dorm and hang out in the previously forbidden rooms. There is also a variety show featuring the best of the dorm, the Ateneo campus, and the local entertainment industry and an Open House party.
The dormitories today bear little external resemblance to the dormitories of yesteryears. However, Cervini and Eliazo remain, in essence, the same close-knit multi-cultural community of Ateneans it was envisioned to be.