Lakad Gunita 2019: Historical Buildings in UP Diliman

Lakad Gunita 2019 Historical Buildings in UP Diliman – Themed Walking Tour “Lingon”

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

February 15, 2019

Lakad Gunita 2019 is a series of tours of the historical sites in UP Diliman in celebration of the Diliman Month in February 2019. Organized by UPD Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts and UP Asian Institute of Tourism.

The themed Walking Tours are free from February 11 to March 29. You can choose among any or all of the following tours dubbed as:

Diliman Fauna Tour on #HuniMondays
Diliman Commune Revisited Tour on #MulatTuesdays
Public Arts and Architecture Tour on #HangaWednesdays
Diliman Flora Tour on #GubatThursdays
Historical Buildings Tour on #LingonFridays

Historical Buildings Tour on #LingonFridays

The tour was conducted by UP AIT students and is headed by Assistant professor Nicolo Del Castillo (UP College of Architecture) or Arki Nic for short.

Malcom Hall. The first stop of the tour was in the College of Law. Malcom Hall was built in the 1950’s after World War 2, it’s part of rebuilding the community with the assistance of the Americans. Located in an elongated East-West portion of the campus. The current home of the UP College of Law. Built in 1937, it is one of the oldest buildings in UP Diliman campus together with Benitez Hall which is located at the southern end of the Sunken garden. Originally called the “North Building,” a neo-classical architecture designed by Architect Juan Arellano. Most of the pioneering buildings in UP Diliman during the 1950’s are tropically designed such as the incorporation of high ceilings, reinforced concrete, and with balconies for sun shading purposes.  Malcom Hall is said to be one of the best preserved historical buildings. It became a Law Center in 1963 and a repository of legal research.

It previously housed the College of Nursing until the 1980s and the College of Dentistry from 1948 to 1954. The hall was renamed Malcolm Hall in 1963 after the College of Law’s founder and first dean, George Malcolm.

Melchor Hall. The College of Engineering was built after the war in 1952. Adjacent to Malcom Hall’s elongated East-West location. Melchor Hall is a Modernist style with wide open space, the ground floor has no rooms, just columns. Its flooring is patterned after Engineering terms like the image of beams, geodetic tools. Initially the building had a roof deck, back then it was great to look at the structure with open air. But the roof deck was not a good idea, it cracked the concrete due to heat and rain, eventually the structure blew and was a hassle to maintain. The building is made of metal steel encased with concrete.

The current home of the College of Engineering. It was inaugurated in 1952 and designed by Architect Cesar Homero Rosales Concio. Its architecture design mirrors that of Palma Hall at the opposite side of the Academic Oval. The building was named Melchor Hall in 1963 to honor UP alumnus Colonel Alejandro Melchor, a former Undersecretary of National Defense and a member of the UP Board of Regents.

The sundial was a project of Alumni engineers, it was initially installed in front of Melchor Hall, but later when the Acacia trees matured through the years, the Sundial’s purpose was covered by shades of Acacia trees. Eventually they moved the sundial in a different location.

Carillon Tower. Decided to have a grandeur base, the Carillon was redesigned through the efforts of the UP Alumni. Architect Juan Filipe de Jesus Nakpil, the first National Artist for Architecture, designed and supervised the construction of the Carillon Tower. It is a 130-foot structure with 46 bronze bells, cast by the Van Bergen Bell, Chimes and Carillon Foundry of Holland. The bells were installed by Dutch carilloneur and music professor Adrian Antonisse in 1952.

On November 20, 1992, the Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity restored the tower in commemoration of its 75th anniversary and was renamed Andres Bonifacio Centennial Carillon Tower. The plaza at the foot of the tower, called Carillon Plaza, was designed by former professor and Landscape Architect Horacio Dimanlig.

The original remaining bronze bells are kept and can be viewed at the UP OICA office in University Theater right beside the Carillon Tower.

Carillon could be seen from Welcome Rotonda, that’s how barren Quezon City is.

Bahay ng Alumni 1996. Designed after the American’s movable tent. This project earned the UAP Design Award for the Year 2000. The building was built during the term of UP President Emil Q. Javier and UPAA President Edgardo Espiritu. The huge stained glass facade depicts an abstract design by G.V. Manahan with homecoming as the theme. It’s 6000 square meters on 2.0 hectares of land. This project is a joint undertaking of the University of the Philippines and the UP Alumni Association. The “Ang Bahay“, as it is called by UP’s Alumni, is a landmark in Quezon City where the facility is regularly reserved for receptions, exhibits and socials. The structure is passively cooled with a barrel roof of tubular steel structures.

From Malcolm Hall and Melchor Hall, then came the Abelardo Hall in 1963 and Plaridel Hall in 1969 appears to be smaller in scale. Architect Nic mentioned “In the scale of nation-building in, 1960’s Philippines was already established as a free, independent country and we’re still struggling with our economy and now the Americans have left us, we now only have two (2) floors (Pertaining to the architectural design of the Abelardo hall and Plaridel Hall, in a way you can see the development of history through UP Diliman buildings.”

Villamor Hall/University Theater – UPLift or UP Lift. By Ferdinand Cacnio, it drew much controversy upon its introduction. Cacnio’s sculpture depicts enlightenment and aspiring for honor. There are rumors that it is called the female Oblation but according to some it’s not, which is actually true for many artwork, it could mean many things to different people, thus the nature of art.

The University Theater was designed by Architect Roberto Alas Novenario in 1945 and was named after the first Filipino University President, Ignacio Borbon Villamor. The UP Theater was modernized in the 1980s under the leadership of UP President Edgardo Angara and UP Diliman Chancellor Ernesto Tabujara.

Quezon Hall. The current house of the Office of the University President, and Chancellor’s office located at the second level, as well as the several UP System (left wing/North side) and Diliman Admin offices (right wing/South side.) The scale model of master development plan of UP Diliman can be seen at the UP System Office.

Quezon Hall was formerly called the Administration Building including the Registrar’s office. It was completed in 1950 and was among the first four buildings erected at Diliman. This iconic American colonial structure was designed by Architect Juan Filipe Nakpil. It was renamed to Quezon Hall in 1963 after the name of former President Manuel L. Quezon who initiated the plan to move the university’s main campus to its current location in Diliman.

At the front of the building is the Oblation Plaza, designed by Nathaniel John Gerochi Dueñas and constructed in 1974. The original bronze Oblation sculpture is kept for preservation purposes and can be viewed at the Main Library’s archive section. The Oblation is the symbolic gateway to the University.

Master Development Plan of the University and its stories. In the 1930’s, as part of the Capital City Project, Quezon City was projected as the Capitol City, as the capital of Manila. You can see through the master development plan like that of the road names as Commonwealth Avenue and Congressional Avenue where it leads to Congress where Batasan is. It was planned well through network sites –  interconnecting roads. UP Diliman was already part of the plan. The vision overlapped with people running the system, no one thought or rather continued the project. The spaces were occupied by the community.

Thus the naming of the main roads in Quezon City came about. There was Congressional Avenue leading to Commonwealth Avenue where the Batasan Road is, where you can find the House of Congress (Batasan). I remember when we used to lived in Premium St. and in Benefits St, GSIS Village, Project 8, the road names then were all depicting government terms alike: Grant St., Personnel, Finance, Insurance, Property, Dividends, Actuarial, Asset, Assistant, Legal Road, Engineering and so on. Prof. Nic mentioned that the Batasan Hall was conceptualized as the White House of the Philippines. But since the people who ran the government during that era weren’t united and no one continued the capital project, instead the government buildings were cited in different locations, in most parts of Manila. Del Castillo also noted in the midst of  Cory Aquino’s campaign, she promised the settlers of Batasan that they will have the land for themselves, hence the squatters in that area mushroomed, that may have to be one of the reasons why government offices were scattered everywhere.

UP Asian Institute of Tourism. Why does UP Diliman lease some of its property like that from UP-Ayala TechnoHub and UP Town Center? Prof. Nic pointed out a direct answer “Because this land is already cut-off inside the main campus, they want to place it within the cluster. UP Town (former UP Integrated School) is located outside the center of UP Diliman, technically this land can be leased out.” With regards to AIT, the parallel land along the Commonwealth within Central Avenue is still UP, AIT was left out outside the boundaries of the main campus. AIT was advised by Prof. Nic that the college unit should start making a move to transfer inside the main campus. Once the MRT becomes operational, AIT location can be a viable hotel since it was recognized as a heritage site. It is not already fit to be an education site, better transfer inside the campus.

Vargas Museum. The museum was built in the 1980’s, named after Jorge Vargas, the former Executive Secretary under President Quezon administration during the Commonwealth period. Vargas donated his entire art collection, stamps and coins, library, and memorabilia to the University on March 1, 1978. The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1983 and the transfer of collection began in 1986. The museum was inaugurated by former President Corazon C. Aquino on February 22, 1987.

Faculty Center. Formerly designed to be a gallery and it got reused as a faculty center. Built in 1969. It used to house the faculty offices of the faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 1983, College of Arts and Sciences was split into three (3): it became College of Science, College of Arts and Letters, and College of Social Science and Philosophy. Bulwagang Rizal which the faculty center came to be named, used to house a gallery and held experimental exhibits of the students.

The University’s Faculty Center was inaugurated in September 1969. With its fruition started by former UP President Carlos Peña, the building was designed by Architect Carlos Domingo Arguelles and was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

On April Fool’s day of 2016, the Faculty Center was raged by fire. Unfortunately, the building – together with the academic books, documents, paintings, artifacts, equipment, and rare collections were all burned and the building was totally demolished a year after to give way to the construction of the new building.

Formerly designed to be a gallery and it got reused as a faculty center. Fortunately, an accident happened and everything came tumbling down. They are now rebuilding the site into a 9-story Faculty Commons or “tambayan ng faculty.”

Palma Hall. The last stop of the walking tour. Palma Hall is the center of student’s life of UP Diliman, and still is. It was the center of UP life in the 1950’s and 1960’s and up to now. In 1951, it was called LA, Palma Hall used to be named as the College of Liberal Arts, back then all students must take Liberal Arts before going into their different specialization. If you were Engineering, you still took two (2) years of Liberal Arts and went on to your desired course. Now the equivalent is General Education (GE), the difference is you don’t get a diploma after GE. Palma Hall is also a symbolic place to hold student activities apart from Quezon Hall. Here is where the students would gather to assemble and organize, and rallies against the government, it is because everyone went here.

In 1963, Palma Hall was named after the statesman and fourth UP President, Rafael Velasquez Palma, who was also called the “Father of Academic Freedom.”  Currently, it houses the College of Arts and Letter and Social Sciences and Philosophy where most of the GE subjects are taught.

Geographically, if you look at the campus map, these are the first four buildings after the war: Palma Hall, Gonzales Hall, Melchor Hall and Quezon Hall. These buildings were erected at UP Diliman following the transfer of the university from Manila in 1948. Palma Hall was built in 1951, designed by Architect Cesar Homero Concio, same as Melchor Hall. They are exact mirror images. The difference is the contour of the land, Palma Hall has no basement. It has a total floor area of 22,990 square meter. The mural and flooring of the lobby was patterned after arts and sciences icons made by National Artist Vicente Manansala.

The whole building is designed under Modernist style, the long walk inside the hall is called the AS walk. Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater wasn’t designed to be a theater place, it was initially designed as a lecture hall. When the need arose, they adopted it as a theater. Melchor Hall has the same lecture hall. The difference between Melchor Hall is that they don’t have open space at the back portion of the building. The additional building at the back used to be called the Palma Hall Annex where the College of Business Admins used to occupy. When BA moved out, Psychology went in. The other building beside it was Benton Hall, it used to house the Registrar’s Office, from Quezon Hall to Palma Hall. Eventually they vacated Benton Hall because of the growing population, records were still paper and the building stored reams of paper of records of students over 70 years. The structure wasn’t designed to be a storage room but as a classroom, the floor was already sagging. To prevent a catastrophe, they had to move out and design a new place.

An elevator shaft was already installed and is now covered temporarily with a bulletin board.  Due to Philippine dilemma, the project wasn’t pushed through. Only Melchor Hall had the elevator installed and had a working elevator until the 1960s until it stopped because students were playing with it and with the unreliable electricity supply. After the new millennium, the elevator of Melchor Hall was rehabilitated and operational. Palma Hall never got to have that elevator, but there is an elevator shaft.

We see how different buildings have a different context, and we understand it from that context. It would be unfair to the people responsible for the building. “As an architect of around 30 years of experience I came to the conclusion that buildings like any work whether it’s administrative or art, they’re products of their time. At the time,it was a good idea to plant acacia trees, they never knew it was not endemic but only because they needed a canopy and it’s only now that we realized hindi pala sya maganda, that’s how it goes. At that time, it was good to have roof decks, that was the style of the times. Eventually it’s not working. Maybe we should design it in such a way that we don’t use roof decks anymore because it becomes a headache later on. It looks good on plain paper, but when you’re living in it, it’s no longer advisable.” Prof. Niccolo del Castillo.

The Lakad Gunita 2019 Themed Walking Tours are organized and operated by the University of the Philippines Asian Institute of Tourism in connection with the Lakad Gunita commemoration activities. These themed walking tours are provided on a complimentary basis, on a first-come-first-served listing priority.

For those who want to join, this is a free walking tour, all you have to do is pre-register and confirm your participation at the contact information below:

Complete photos from “Lakad Pamana 2019: Historical Buildings in UP Dilimanare available on our Facebook Page., created by Green Dei (Daryll Villena)
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