A Home Away from Home: On- And Off-campus Housing For Ateneo Students
by Erlinda Eileen G. Lolarga
Where do students, both local and international, stay when they want to live near the school environs of the Ateneo de Manila University? With a population of about 7,700 undergraduate students, 1,300 graduate students, and a stream of visiting international students and professors, residential spaces both on- and offcampus are in high demand. Housing options from the simple to the luxurious are wide-ranging. Students can visit the Ateneo website for a list conveniently put together by the Office of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs (ADSA) every school year. For international students, the Office of International Programs (OIP) offers not only an additional list of apartments and condominium units to choose from but also provides the extra service of having visiting international students accompanied by OIP staff and/or Ateneo student volunteers when they do their househunting upon arrival in Manila. Word-of-mouth referrals by students and friends are also a good source of information for convenient and economical places to stay, particularly in LoyolaHeights and Marikina.
The New University Dormitory
On-campus accommodations for Loyola Schools students and international guests have grown tremendously since the completion of the new University Dormitory, which opened its doors to Ateneo students in May 2008. The University Dormitory can accommodate 600 residents and spreads out into two wings: the North Wing for male dormers and the South Wing for female dormers. For many years, the old residence halls on the LoyolaHeights campus have served only a small fraction of students in need of housing, with Cervini (for male dormers) and Eliazo (for female dormers) Halls able to house a combined 400 residents. With the new residence halls now in use, there are plans to refurbish Cervini and Eliazo Halls, which will house only freshmen and international guests.
Rooms And Amenities
Rooms at the new University Dormitory can accommodate four dormers each. Apart from cabinets and desks for every room occupant, all rooms are also equipped with Internet connections and local phones to facilitate communication within the dorm. Elevators service all seven levels of each building. There are common bathrooms on every floor, each built with six toilets, ten lavatory sinks, and four shower areas with hot and cold water. Rooms with windows are equipped with electric fans, while rooms which have no windows are air-conditioned. Compact single rooms on every floor are earmarked for graduate students, visiting professors, or dorm mentors. These rooms are provided with air conditioning units and a bath and toilet. Room assignments for students are decided based on a lottery system.
Japanese exchange students Nami Iwashita of KyushuUniversity and Yaka Ito of NanzanUniversity were quartered at Eliazo Hall for a semester before moving to the new University Dormitory. They are happy with the new dormitory for safety and security reasons and appreciate the presence of security guards. Practical conveniences like the microwave ovens and toasters, free drinking water, hot water for showers, and tissue in the toilets add to the convenience of staying in the dorm. The smiles and courtesy of the dormitory staff are plus factors as well. After the second semester, she and Yaka plan to try boarding houses off-campus to be more immersed in everyday Filipino life before returning to .
If one is looking for off-campus housing, there are many boarding houses for male and female students as well as apartment/condominium units in the LoyolaHeights area. Along Katipunan Avenue, the Prince David Condominium, BurgundyPlaza, and Burgundy Place condominium buildings and the Dormitoryana complex are an obvious choice among students. Newer buildings which cater specifically to students are Elizabeth Hall, the OracleBuilding, and My Place. The Varsity Hills area behind Katipunan Avenue also abounds with apartments and houses renovated into dormitories. Living in this area offers more freedom of choice for dormers as restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores, coffee shops, convenience stores, laundries, and Internet cafés are within walking distance. To enter Ateneo, students either walk (about ten minutes from LoyolaHeights to the school buildings) or take tricycles which are allowed to enter the school.
For those who need to leave the LoyolaHeights area, the Katipunan Light Rail Transit (LRT) station may be reached via tricycle or jeepney, plus a short walk. Taxicabs are also easy to hail from any point along Katipunan or from within the campus.
Another area which offers affordable lodging is Barangka village in Marikina, directly behind and below the Ateneo campus. Accommodations here may usually be found in houses which accept boarders. Barangka is also conveniently located, as a path from it leads directly to the school. While Katipunan offers the convenience of the LoyolaHeights shops, Barangka is a short distance from the Riverbanks complex, and now, SM Marikina.
Either on- or off-campus, there is no shortage of safe, decent accommodations which will fit your budget and preferences.
Revised version of “A Home Away from Home” by Erlinda Lolarga LSB Vol.4 Special Issue.