It was the last few days of our office in Quezon Avenue at Quezon City and I was haphazardly scrambling out to all the places we frequented before we finally move to a newer, more chaotic area. One of the last places I visited was one of the largest, if not the largest university in the country, the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
The morning was slightly overcast as I rode my way to the campus via a UP jeep. I boarded down near the Oblation at Roxas Avenue and saw the light of the sun breaking through the clouds and the treetops. It looked really magical, unfortunately my lens fogged up as I took it out of my bag and to say that I had a hard time capturing the moment was an understatement.
The road looping around the Lagoon and Sunken Garden is actually one of my favorite spot in UP. Old trees line up both sides of the boulevard with their tops touching together creating some sort of a tree tunnel along the road. The golden light of the early morning or the late afternoon filtering through their boughs reminds me so much of Baguio’s Camp John Hay, too bad the golden hour lasts only but a few minutes.
My lens still foggy with moisture, I proceeded to the iconic Oblation sculpture that has come to symbolize the university’s spirit. The original sculpture was created by National Artist for the Visual Arts, Guillermo E. Tolentino using concrete and then painted to look like bronze in 1939. The one standing at the gates of the campus is a bronze replica done in Italy with Tolentino’s supervision and the original now at the Diliman Main Library Building.
At the back of the Oblation are the Amphitheater and the woody Lagoon area, really nice for those wanting peace amongst the trees.
Then there is the Sunken Garden. Unfortunately it was overgrown and soggy this time of the year due to the rains. During the summer though, this place comes alive with all sorts of sports activities. Huge concerts are also held here.
I didn’t have any breakfast before heading to UP as I was hoping to just have one right there. Alas, I have no idea where the eateries were at the campus and my stomach was already growling. Fortunately I found one near the chapel. I had my Tapsilog (beef jerky, fried egg, fried rice) there, which was pretty average and afterwards, I was off to the famous Church of the
Risen Lord chapel Holy Sacrifice.
The uniquely domed church was designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin, the floor done by National Artist for Visual Arts Arturo Luz, the Stations of the Cross by Vicente Manansala and Ang Kiukok both National Artist for Visual Arts, and the double-sided crucifix and altar base by Napoleon Abueva, another National Artist for Visual Arts. You can just imagine how excited I was to photograph this structure. I actually brought my tripod with me just to shoot the interiors of this chapel.
So there I was, setting up my chunky tripod along one of the church’s dim aisle and as I was about to mount my camera to it, along came the photographer’s archenemy, the dreaded security guard. As expected, he went straight towards me and asked what I was doing. I told him that I am photographing the beautiful interiors of the church, to which he promptly replied that I was not allowed to do so. I was told that if I wanted to shoot the place, I have to talk to their admin people. Off I went to a side building to ask for permission and was told the same thing, photographing the interior of the church is not allowed.
It really makes me wonder why a public building like this church cannot be photographed by the taxpayers that pay for it. Don’t they want the world to see the beauty of this architecture through photographs? That almost ruined the day for me but I had to move along.
Thinking of checking out the sidestreets along the main boulevards of UP, I again started walking towards the Sunken Garden. As I sauntered my way through the asphalted road, thunder cracked and rain pattered slowly into a crescendo. Into my bag slid my cameras and out of it my mom’s hot pink umbrella.
I stayed a bit at one of the waiting sheds around the Sunken Garden waiting for the rain to let up, unfortunately it did not seem to want to and I was forced to end my walk inside the campus.
The University of the Philippines in Diliman, is really one of the few green sanctuaries left in the city. If you’re looking for a place to have a relaxing walk without inhaling the carbon dioxides being emitted in our roadways, this is the place to be. Might as well bring a book too as the shaded benches under its old trees just beckons for someone to have a relaxing read under it.
Now if only they have coffee shops inside the campus…
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
02-9818500 | 02-9205302 to 03