A Penn Encampment Participant Said the School Left Her 'Homeless.' Her Celebrity Father Flaunts Plates of Caviar on First Class Flights.

Penn sophomore Eliana Atienza comes from a long line of Filipino politicians and celebrities

Eliana Atienza (
May 21, 2024

When University of Pennsylvania sophomore Eliana Atienza was placed on mandatory leave for participating in an illegal anti-Israel encampment, she portrayed herself as a downtrodden victim of "administrative violence." An international student from the Philippines, Atienza was forced to vacate her campus dorm, leaving her "homeless" with no family in the United States to turn to, she told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

A Washington Free Beacon review of Atienza's family, however, tells a different story.

Atienza's father, Kim Atienza, is better known as "Kuya Kim," a celebrity television presenter who has hosted the country's most popular morning and game shows. Her grandfather—prominent Filipino politician Lito Atienza—served as deputy speaker of the country's House of Representatives until 2022, when he launched a bid for vice president as the running mate of boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao. Atienza's mother, meanwhile, is a Wharton School graduate who founded and led the Chinese International School Manila, a private K-12 institution.

Atienza's father is not afraid to flaunt his wealth. In a recent Instagram story, he shared photos from a lavish first class flight, which boasted caviar service and a full shower. Described in British magazine Tatler as one of the Philippines' "most recognisable television presenters," Atienza's father has also given tours of his home on live television, showcasing his rare collections of dinosaur eggs, "mid-century modern chairs," and vintage motorcycles, including two BMW bikes used during World War II.

Atienza's elite background did not stop the Penn sophomore from portraying herself as a homeless college student with no one to turn to after Penn ordered her to "separate from the university" on May 9. In addition to her Inquirer interview—she told the outlet she was "made homeless by" the disciplinary move—Atienza told NBC 10 she didn't "have any family to go back home to here." In an Instagram comment, meanwhile, she called herself a victim of "administrative violence."

"I live on campus. The university has barred me from entering," Atienza wrote. "In other words—the university has made me houseless."

"I am also an international student. The University knows this," she continued. "This is their weapon. So disappointed to be attending an institution that resorts to administrative violence."

Just months before her forced leave of absence, in January, Atienza posted photos from a trip to Antarctica.

Neither Penn nor Atienza responded to requests for comment.

An environmental studies major, Atienza emerged as a leader of the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" that plagued campus for more than two weeks.

Earlier this month, she was part of a group of students that negotiated with interim president Larry Jameson to end the encampment, according to the Inquirer. Atienza dismissed Jameson's proposed concessions, saying he merely offered to "look into the feasibility" of divesting from Israel by including student protesters in "endless meetings and task forces and discussions and committees."

"It would change things to see tangible action from the university, big emphasis on tangible action," she said at the time. Roughly one week after the interview, on May 10, Jameson used police to clear the encampment.

"We hoped that reasonable conversations could address both the concerns of protestors and the needs of the University," he said in a statement. "We made clear that their proposals were not possible."

In addition to her anti-Israel activism, Atienza is a member of Fossil Free Penn, a student activist group "demanding Penn divest from fossil fuel companies." Following Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, the group co-signed a "Statement of Solidarity with Palestine'' that declared support for Hamas and blamed the attack on Israel's "settler colonial regime."

"We, the undersigned, write this statement in support of Palestinians who are fighting to liberate their lands from the Israeli Occupation," the Oct. 11 statement read. "We unequivocally condemn the abhorrent Israeli assault on the 2 million people under siege in Gaza and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance."

"The settler state has been inflicting violence on Palestinians and their land since its inception, and therefore bears sole responsibility for the violence which has been taking place this week."

Atienza's father recently traveled to America to attend his son's graduation ceremony at Tufts University, which Atienza also attended. In February, the famous TV presenter gave an interview to the Philippine Star discussing how he and his wife planned to adjust to their lives as "empty nesters" after sending all of their children to college abroad.

"I have a daughter at UPenn, who turned out to be an activist," Atienza's father said.