THEY ARE stern politicians by day, singers by night. But only one night—Atenean Night, that is—can force the singer out of Senator Richard Gordon (AB History and Government ’66) and House Speaker Prospero Nograles (AB PoS ’67).
“At least once a year, we have an Atenean Night where we showcase Ateneans singing,” said event organizer and rocker RJ Jacinto (AB Eco ’66). “It’s like a homecoming.”
Jacinto also owns FM Radio station RJ100, which organizes and advertises the event.
Blast from the past
RJ’s son, RJ Jr. (BS Mgt ’07), said that his father had been holding Atenean Nights since he was young. “It fancies me that even if these guys (alumni) graduated years ago, the [school] spirit is still very much alive.” He added that they should serve as an example to the younger batches of Ateneans.
For Gordon, Atenean Night was a way for the older Ateneo alumni to remember their roots. It was also a way for him to reunite with his classmates such as RJ.
“It’s always good to be [with] my classmates, to feel like an Atenean, and be young again,” he said.
Singer Norrie Jacinto (HS ’60), who was once likened to American pop singer Neil Sedaka, agreed. “[The event] brings back guys from our time and it puts back a lot of fun that we remember during our Ateneo days,” he said.
Gordon said he returned to his roots through Atenean Night. “When you have roots, you remember and commemorate the values you hold.”
For Nograles, Atenean Night was a special kind of reunion because there were performances and entertainment. He added that the problem with other Ateneo reunions is that they are very “current.”
“They’re just concerned with those who are there [at the moment] and then when you leave, the bonding [is over],” he said.
Atenean Night featured different vocal performances from Ateneo alumni like Tito Santiago (AB ’64) and Jacinto. Gary Lising hosted the show, delivering funny spiels each time. Some performers from the De La Salle University and University of the Philippines were also invited.
Closet singers and memories
Gordon and Nograles are more known as politicians, but back in their school days, they also doubled as singers. Nograles was even in a band with Jose Mari Chan, who went on to become an acclaimed singer-songwriter. Gordon was a singer by association through his brother’s band.
However, Gordon considers himself more of a cheerleader than a singer. He clarifies that he was not part of the Blue Babble Battalion, as often assumed. “The Battalion was the whole Ateneo, it was not an organization [before]. Then, we [had] the Ateneo Cheerleaders.”
Being in Atenean Night prompted Gordon to remember his cheering days as he saw former players that he cheered for. Pointing at a former basketball player, he laughingly said, “He was a lousy basketball player… it was a lousy basketball team and we were beaten by La Salle with 35 points. I had to cheer for these bombs.”
Joy Bautista, Jacinto’s executive secretary, said that the show enabled the guests to see the other side of these politicians.
Apart from Gordon and Nograles, congressmen like Ed Zialcita and Noli Fuentebella also performed.
One of the guests, Bobby Aquino, said, “Politically, we come from different spectra but we’re all here to have fun, to celebrate singing.” Aquino is from late president Cory Aquino’s clan.
Other politicians like former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and some congressmen and mayors were also present
Although the yearly show is not directly organized for the sesquicentennial anniversary of Ateneo, many guests and performers bared their plans for the 150th anniversary in December during the event.
Jacinto also announced that he will be performing at the sesquicentennial celebration this December. The other guests and performers don’t have any concrete plans but affirmed that they will definitely attend the sesqui anniversary.
That night, Ateneo High School Batch 1984 sold Ateneo golf merchandise. The proceeds will go to the 500@150 sesquicentennial scholarship fund which aims to raise money for 500 scholars in Ateneo’s 150th year.