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Men and women for others: These Ateneo alum truly made a mark 'for the greater glory of God'

Published Jul 07, 2021 10:40 pm

Being a man and woman for others, and all for the greater glory of God— these two form the primordial values taught at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Since the school was established in 1859 by the Jesuit order, it has counted among its storied list of alumni various luminaries in Philippine history.

Here's a look back at some notable contemporary Blue Eagle alumni who have truly made a mark in their fields by taking to heart the values of public service, excellence, and living for a higher cause instilled at ADMU.


Robi Domingo studied at ADMU from elementary until college. He graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science. After college, he deferred initial plans to pursue medical school after he was cast in Pinoy Big Brother. It was a decision that eventually shaped his career path, as he ended up as a first runner-up of PBB, then being included in ABS-CBN's Star Magic.


Kelsey Merritt made history in 2018 by being the first Filipino to walk in the famed Victoria’s Secret runway. Kelsey, who was born in Pampanga to a Filipina mother and an American father, started being active in modelling after her second year as a college student at ADMU, when she moved to New York. Kelsey said her agency asked her to consider online schooling so she need not fly back and forth from New York to the Philippines. Though Kelsey said online schooling was tempting, she decided to still finish her Ateneo degree.

“The choice was not easy, but no one ever said it was going to be,” Kelsey said in an Instagram post.

“I can say that one of the best decisions I've made so far is to finish my degree instead of stopping it halfway.”


Nikki Gil has been in the business as early as four years old, when she started singing and doing voice overs for commercials. This was not entirely surprising as Nikki grew up in a musically inclined family, with a father who plays the piano and a mother who sings in a church choir. Her breakout moment came at 17 years old in 2005 when she appeared in an iconic Coca-Cola commercial. After 2005, her career took off, as she recorded a number of albums and had a string of TV hosting gigs and acting roles.

In 2009, she graduated from Ateneo, majoring in English literature. Nikki has since retired from showbiz after marrying in 2015 and giving birth in 2017.

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Gretchen Ho earned a double degree from ADMU in management engineering and communications. During college, she also became a part of a powerhouse volleyball varsity squad dubbed “fab five” that took the school toward back-to-back finals appearances at the UAAP for seasons 74 (2011) and 75 (2012). After college, Gretchen also played professionally as team captain of the Petron Women’s Volleyball Team in the Philippine Super Liga.

After a stint as anchor and host for ABS-CBN, Gretchen transferred to TV5 in January 2021. She has also launched her own lifestyle and advocacy brand named “Woman in Action.”

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Another Ateneo alumnus who made his mark in sports is Kiefer Ravena, who made waves when he played for the UAAP men’s basketball team. During his stay from 2011 to 2015, Ravena helped steer the team to four Final Four appearances and two championships.

The crafty point guard has also suited up for the Philippine team after college, helping win five gold medals (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019) for the country in the Southeast Asian Games.

He has played for NLEX Road Warriors in the Philippine Basketball Association league since 2017. Kiefer is also the first Filipino athlete to sign with the international sports brand Jordan


Actor Ian Pangilinan graduated from ADMU in 2019 with a degree in Management Engineering. Ian first honed his craft at a number of plays in Ateneo grade school. During his high school at Ateneo, he got the lead role for Ateneo Blue Repertory’s Rent. Ian has recently gained renown for his lead role as Vlad in the boys love series Gaya sa Pelikula.


Singer-songwriter and OPM stalwart Rico Blanco began his career with the band Rivermaya, where he was a vocalist and songwriter. With his lyrics, Rivermaya spun off many iconic OPM tracks during the '90s. He graduated from ADMU in 1992 with a degree in Management Economics. In 2007, Rico left Rivermaya and pursued a solo music career. He has since produced three studio albums to date, while also helping arrange music for some branches of government such as the Department of Tourism.

He has also been involved in philanthropy and social causes. He is currently the president of the non-profit Filipino Society of Composers Authors and Publishers.

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Kris Aquino graduated from ADMU in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. (Fun fact: Kris and Rico were once classmates at Ateneo.)

Born to an illustrious political family, Kris has been comfortable in the spotlight ever since, earning the moniker as “Queen of All Media.” She has hosted various talk shows and game shows and starred in various TV shows and films.

But aside from her showbiz career, Kris has also advocated for a number of social and civic causes.

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One of the icons of the new brand of young political leaders in the country, Vico Sotto graduated in 2011 from ADMU with a Bachelor of Arts degree major in Political Science. Vico also finished his Master of Arts degree in Public Management from the Ateneo School of Government in 2018. Though he was born to celebrity parents, Vico largely preferred to focus on his studies as he took an interest in government at an early age.

Vico became a Pasig councilor in 2016 and after a single term, ran for city mayor in 2019 and won. Among his initiatives that he carried from his councilor days are increasing transparency in government transactions and records, shunning the traditional credit-grabbing of local officials for government projects, as well as regularization of a number of city hall staff.

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The late former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was true-blue dyed-in-the-wool Atenean. He finished grade school, high school, and college at ADMU, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, major in Economics in 1981. Aquino first worked as an executive assistant in the sugar refinery of the family-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac after college. In 1988, he was elected to the House of Representatives for the second district of Tarlac, and was re-elected for two terms before being elected to the Senate in 2007.

As the country’s 15th president from 2010 to 2016, Aquino helped stabilize the economy and steered it into a sustained record growth. But his administration was not without its share of controversies, such as the Mamasapano clash, that hounded him until the end of his term.

In his June 2016 commencement address at ADMU, Aquino urged graduates to embody the school’s motto of being “men and women for others.”

"Nawa’y humayo kayo at maging ‘Lux in Domino,’ (Light in the Lord) taas-noo kayong maging men and women for others, at maging mga exemplar ng sigasig, malasakit, at integridad sa mahaba ninyong paglalakbay, ‘down from the hill,” Aquino then said.