Lakad Gunita 2019: Public Arts and Architecture in UP Diliman

Lakad Gunita 2019 Public Arts and Architecture in UP Diliman – Themed Walking Tour “Hanga”

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

February 20, 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

Public Arts and Architecture Tour #HangaWednesdays

Quezon Hall. The University Administration Building was designed by National Artist for Architecture Juan Nakpil in neoclassical style in the 1950s. After the war, he was part of the committee to transfer the university from Manila to Diliman campus. This plan was under the initiative of former President Manuel L. Quezon. The building demonstrated a uniform proportion and balance through the row of columns that form an enclosed space style. Above it is the observatory deck and offices of the University President and Chancellor’s.

It is one of the first four buildings constructed in Diliman. It was renamed in 1963 in honor of former President Manuel L. Quezon.

Oblation Plaza. Fronting Quezon Hall is the Oblation Plaza, designed by Nathaniel John Gerochi Dueñas in 1974. The plaza revolves around the 1958 bronze cast of the Oblation, the most iconic symbol of the university, by the National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino. The Oblation’s outstretched arms and uplifted face to the heavens means “an offering” and beckons its viewers to serve the people. The sculpture was funded by the U.P. students of 1935-1936.

The idea for the Oblation was first conceived during the presidency of Rafael Palma, who was the one to commission Guillermo Tolentino to make the sculpture. Palma requested that the statue be based on the second verse of Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios.

The measurement in height of the Oble is 3.5 meters, symbolizing the 333 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The sculpture is replete with references of selfless dedication and service to the nation, and as Tolentino himself describes it;

The completely nude figure of a young man with outstretched arms and open hands, with tilted head, closed eyes and parted lips murmuring a prayer, with breast forward in the act of offering himself, is my interpretation of that sublime stanza. It symbolizes all the unknown heroes who fell during the night. The statue stands on a rustic base, a stylized rugged shape of the Philippine archipelago, lined with big and small hard rocks, each of which represents an island. The “katakataka” (wonder plant) whose roots are tightly implanted on Philippine soil, is the link that binds the symbolized figure to the allegorical Philippine Group. “Katakataka” is really a wonder plant. It is called siempre vivo (always alive) in Spanish. A leaf or a piece of it thrown anywhere will sprout into a young plant. Hence, it symbolizes the deep-rooted patriotism in the heart of our heroes. Such patriotism continually and forever grows anywhere in the Philippines.”

Myth debunked.
As per University literature records, Fernando Poe Sr. is not the model of the Oblation. It was Guillermo Tolentino’s apprentice (student assistant) Anastacio Caedo (the sculptor of Rajah Sulayman in Vargas Museum) for the physique reference and Caedo’s brother-in-law, Virgilio Raymundo for proportion for reference.

Parrot on the University Seal, it is an eagle base in 1908 when UP was established, it was considered as the best American education that it had to offer at that time. The symbols below the eagle represent the three specializations of the University of the Philippines: medicine, engineering and agriculture known as the lamp of knowledge.

Quezon Hall Ampitheater. At the back of the Quezon Hall is the Three Women Sewing a Flag made in 1997 by National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva. It pays tribute to the three women who sewed the Philippine flag that was hoisted during the declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite. The three women exhibited are Marcela Marino de Agoncillo, her seven-year old daughter Lorenza Agoncillo, and Delfina Herbosa Natividad, the niece of Jose Rizal.

There were concerns as to why the public arts are left unattended and some are abandoned, this is because the Philippines has no public art policy when it comes to commissioned art.

The amphitheater serves as the venue for UP students commencement exercises and academic events. Every December the lantern parade gathers all the participating colleges and units to showcase their respective themed floats.

Mebuyan sa Idalmunon sculpture made by College of Fine Arts assistant professor Rita Gudiño, was launched as part of Sansinukob art exhibition on Philippine myths on the universe’s origin – UP Diliman Arts Month February 2017. It includes different sculptures that they scattered all over the campus. The installation is currently  mounted at the Lagoon near the Beta Epsilon Theatrum and was inspired by the mythology of the Bagobo about Mebuyan and the universe called Idalmunon. This universe can be found at the edge of Itim na Ilog where the souls of the dead go on a journey by boat.

Mebuyan is known as the mother of the underworld. She feeds the infants that passed away. She has plenty of breasts that nurse dead infants. The infants will stay with her until they grow up and return to Gimokudan to live there peacefully with their dead families.

Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center. Vargas’ family donated all of Jorge Vargas art collection and library, nine years after the museum’s inauguration. It is under the management of College of Arts and Letters. The museum houses the largest collection of Fernando Amorsolo paintings. It is a repository of many watercolor, acrylics, sculptures and items/artifacts of Vargas family.

Rajah Sulayman sculpture by Florante ‘Boy’ Caedo in 1974, son of Anastacio Caedo, who is the apprentice of Guillermo Tolentino. The art depicts determination and courageous stance. The right hand is hovering at a peculiar angle, this is because he used to hold Kris which is now missing.

Allah Configuration sculpture made in 1984  by UP artist Abdulmari Asia Imao, the father of Toym Imao. As an example of modern art, he combines the Muslim ethnic identity of the artist and its abstract form.

Si Malakas and si Maganda, unknown sculpture saying “nanigas kaka-para ng jeep .” Art critic/Professor Patrick Flores, current curator of the Vargas Museum. the statue was created by Anastacio T. Caedo in 1974, “which is a visualization of the ancient Tagalog myth of the first man (Malakas / Strong) and the first woman (Maganda / Beautiful). This sculpture was originally part of Marcos Collection in Malacañang Palace, but it had to be removed after the 1986 EDSA Revolution, where many of these priceless artworks were either stolen of damaged by looters, when the people stormed the presidential palace right after the Marcos family fled the country.” [Lakbay ng Lakan. “University of the Philippines, Quezon City: The U.P. Vargas Museum.” Accessed 4 March 2019. Available from

Though facts says the sculpture was part of the trio sculptures from Pio Abad’s art exhibit entitled “The Collection of Jane Ryan and William Saunders” in 2014. Jane Ryan and William Saunders were the Hollywood-sounding alter egos the the Marcoses used to open Swiss bank accounts in 1968.  It depicts the fictional characters “Si Malakas at Si Maganda.” This creation myth tells of the first Filipino couple that emerged fully formed from a split bamboo.

I had been researching on that narrative, that mythology that the Marcoses perpetuated—where Ferdinand was man of strength and Imelda was woman of beauty—and how they used that kind of fiction to shape their version of the country,” Pio Abad [reported by Raoul J. Chee Kee.  Inquirer Lifestyle. “Young artist shines a light on recent Philippine history.” Accessed 4 March 2019. Available from]

Artefact X: A Narrative of Mystification and Demystification art installation in concrete is the College of Fine Arts’ bachelor thesis sculpture made by Cian Dayrit, it was awarded as one of the most outstanding thesis in 2011. The bird feet is used to depict a remain or a find from an archeological take, the uncanny location why it appears in this area is to play on people’s perception and people giving meaning to an object. It generates the perception of “what is this? Where does it come from?’ and when they defeat Ateneo, the blue eagle will end up like this.

Gigantic bird feet atop circular platforms can be seen on the hilly front lawn of the Vargas Museum. Roundish scales are incised on concrete surface, their jagged layers highlighting concrete’s bulk. This treatment of material shifts attention to talons overhanging pedestals. Students fondly call the piece ‘adidas’ referring to chicken feet, one of numerous leftovers from chicken meat sold as street-fare alongside innards and chicken blood interestingly called ‘betamax’ … Dayrit proposes the bird feet as artefact, a ‘remain’, a ‘find’ or archaeological dig. Enlarged to gargantuan scale, the feet appear alternately hilarious and threatening. The play with scale, the placement of unexpected object in outdoor space, its rough surface, and choice of subject make way for reactions seemingly at odds with each other. Fabrication of form becomes interrogation of transposition, of how contexts and locations make way for the generation of new meanings, dissociated from common perception. Artefact X’s scale and elevation and the changes to concrete from the elements, make it a curious landmark in the university oval.” as described by Tessa Maria Guazon

Faculty Center. From the Hardin ng mga Diwata, Siyam na Diwata ng Sining (the Nine Muses of the Arts) made in 1991 by National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva (the Father of Modern Sculpture), is a concrete sculpture given to the College of Arts and Letters. The sculpture personifies the nine disciplines of the arts: architecture, computer arts, dance, film, literature, music, painting, sculpture, and theater. Behind the sculpture used to be the Bulwagang Rizal, a name used after September 1992, in honor of Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. The building used to house the faculty of College of Arts and Letters and College of Social Sciences and Philosopy. The Faculty Center was built in 1964 by Carlos Arguelles with a venue for discussion, C.M. Recto Hall, and a blackbox theater The Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan. It used to be occupied by the different offices of professors, tambayan or hang out place for students until it burned down on April Fool’s Day of 2016.

Palma Hall. AS (College of Arts and Sciences), the iconic building named after the fourth university President, Rafael Velasquez Palma. Designed by university architect Cesar Concio in 1951. During the Diliman Commune in 1971, this was where the former UP President Salvador P. Lopez spoke with the UP community. It is where most students would frequent because the General Education (GE) courses are offered here. The A.S. Steps is a site of many demonstrations, protest rallies, and gatherings. The AS lobby also serves as a popular venue for student activities and it also showcases the works of National Artist Vicente Manansala.

Jose Rizal bronze cast sculpture was made by National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino. It was placed predominantly at the center of the AS steps or main gate to suggest an important reminder of the expertise of Rizal in arts and sciences.

National Artist Vicente Manansala abstract design of the floor and mural in 1960’s. The mural is surreal, not the usual cubist Manansala style. The mural at the lobby, entitled “The Arts and Sciences,“, With a length of 14 meters and a width of 2 meters, “The Arts and Sciences” is the biggest mural in the UP Diliman Campus. The floor of the AS Lobby has a terrazzo granolithic design. It was also made by Vicente Manansala to match the mural. Its pattern of test tubes and abstract designs incorporates the college’s two merged fields: the arts and the sciences. The material used to construct this design was granite.

Isang daang taon sa bukang liwayway mural at the second floor lobby was created by the UP Artist’s Circle fraternity (College of Fine Arts) in 1996. The project was headed by former UPAC head Jan Carmichael Calleja. Identifiable representation of known individuals and events, and was assembled in such a way that it doesn’t appear linear or narrative. “UP aspires for revolutionary changes.

In the mural, the Oblation (symbolizing “pahinungod”) at sunrise (“bukang-liwayway”) symbolizes enlightenment or “kamulatan” at the need of the country for revolutionary change, with UP playing a vital role. The artists also wanted to send the message that even as UP approaches its own centennial year (2008), it is waking up to a new epoch (the Oblation at dawn with arms outstretched mimics a person waking up at sunrise); there are infinite possibilities, as the history of Philippine revolutionary events has shown. The placement of Andres Bonifacio at the center of the mural reflects UP student activism.

The mural did not adopt a particular style however the artists specifically veered away from abstraction and non-representation, and instead employed figuration and representation.

Gonzales Hall. The University Library or the Main Lib was among the first four buildings to be constructed in the Diliman campus. Designed by the University Architect Cesar Concio in 1950 and was named after the 6th University President Bienvenido Ma. Gonzales. The library is said to share similarities to the neoclassical façade of the Quezon Hall. The pink granite marble architrave above the main entrance is the University Seal. The seal was sculpted by National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva in 1950. The university seal bears an eagle atop a shield bearing icons and symbols pertinent to the university including, “the lamp of knowledge, a cogwheel, a coconut tree, and a volcano.” The same seal, though smaller in measurement, can also be seen at the Quezon Hall. Bulwagan ng Dangal is the university heritage museum located in the basement. It houses the official university art collection. All collections belong to the university.

Mail Lib is the second oldest building, the first oldest was the Benitez Hall or the College of Education. The arrangement of the buildings within the Academic oval some says it represents the body of the university. The university administration building or the Quezon Hall is the head/brain, the Gonzales Hall – main library is heart/knowledge, the two sides: Melchor Hall and Palma Hall and the Malcolm Hall and the Benitez Hall; they mirror one another to represent the equal importance of engineering and sciences, and law and education. The urban planning not just suggests beautification but instills the main significance of each building. The main lib is one of the biggest with a total floor area of 1,157,938 sq. ft. facing the west. With a massive and grandeur staircase which is under renovation. It houses the university’s extensive library and archive collection. It has General references, the Filipiniana section, social sciences and university archives on the fourth floor.

Oblation. The original bronze cast was kept on the third floor for conservation purposes, to avoid exposure to elements and temperature conditions. Oble has no pig leaf on its private part, but out of modesty they decided to cover it as decided by one of the UP Presidents. The leaves at the bottom are the kataka-taka. Each UP campus has a replica of the Oblation.

Guillermo Guevarra Museum. Judge Guillermo B. Guevara is the founder of criminology in the Philippines, His collection of paintings, books, papers, correspondence, speeches, writings, memorabilia and clippings, supplemented by diaries, court papers and photographs are permanently on exhibition in the Guillermo B. Guevara Room located on the second floor of the Main Library.

The book collection, totaling approximately 690 volumes, covers penal sciences, economics, history, literature and philosophy. Four priceless major Amorsolo paintings owned by the Guillermo B. Guevara Foundation.

Melchor Hall. University Sundial was built in 1973 under the supervision of UP College of Engineering alumna Chato Calderon after the previous sundial was destroyed in 1968 by a typhoon. Their work pays tribute to the engineers that came before them in producing functional and innovative design.

How does it work? The black triangles on its arch are used to measure the quarter and half minutes of every hour. But most of the time, because of the change in climate and the acacia trees canopy, the sundial is not that reliable. The structure of a sundial instrument as the term suggests should be in a plain ground with direct sunlight. When the instrument can reflect a shadow of a pointer cast by the sun.

Currently, only three colleges remain in the building: Geodetic Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. The others have its own buildings.

Carillon Tower. In 1952, National Artist for Architecture, Juan Nakpil designed the Carillon and was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. This structure is a musical instrument, the tower houses a clavier keyboard that can play at least 23 of the 40 bells. The 40 bronze bells were cast in Holland and were installed by Dutch music professor, Adrian Antonisse.

UP Theater Complex. The University Theater or the Villamor Hall was 1st renovated and designed by the university architect Roberto Alas Novenario in 1945 and was named after the first Filipino University President, Ignacio Borbon Villamor. Renovated multiple times all made by Novenario. In a minimalist style, with rejection of the elements. The UP Theater serves as a venue for local and international performances and graduation ceremonies.

Part of Sansinukob Exhibit on Philippine myths on the universe’s origin – UP Diliman Arts Month February 2017 at the University Amphitheater. Ang Pagbabalik Lupa or The Return to the Earth is currently mounted  at the theater complex, the artwork was created by asstistant professor Anton del Castillo of UP Integrated School, who is known for works that show the reflection of the modern and contemporary way of life.

From the mythology of the Kalinga called the “The Departure of Gods.” It shows the separation of gods and people through setting a scenario of a woman hesitating while descending the stairway. Stylized set of stairway made in fiberglass, the stairway has a height of 18 feet and width of 5 feet. The installation depicts a woman covered by a cloth from head to toe as a symbol for an act of shamelessness.  The woman falls down on the soil, almost lying and will appear again until she returns to the ground where she stands.

Langit-non. The installation was created by Reg Yuson. Adapted from the story “The Abode of the Creator of the Universe” from the Panay-Visayan myth, Langit-non is a raised structure with installation of mirror finish or highly reflective surfaces in circular formation.

From below, one could see the reflection of the surroundings the way Tungkung Langit, a hardworking god who fell in love with Alunsina, the virgin goddess of the eastern skies, would see the world from above.

UPLift statue by Ferdinand Cacnio was installed in 2017, a statue of a nude female levitating over a pool of water, with arms outstretched. The artist does not intend to make it as a female counterpart of the Oblation. But according to some art studies, it suggests a resemblance plus the noise it creates when the sculpture was launched, it was said to be a copycat of a foreign sculpture from the Netherlands. “… was accused of being a plagiarised work, with netizens saying the idea was lifted from the nude female sculptures of Dutch artist Elisabet Stienstra….Elisabet Stienstra’s  ‘The Virgins of Apeldoorn’ feature three, separate, levitating nude females arranged to depict movement of a woman shifting in bed. The work was done in 2001 and displayed in a public park in Netherlands. “I saw it in my mind first. I didn’t go to the internet and searched for inspiration.” [Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines. “Public Art and Private Rights: the ‘Female Oblation’ and Copyright”. Accessed 4 March 2019. Available from

The concept of originality in the art world could mean different things. It was rumored that the sculpture be removed, but it was clarified that the installation will stay because the UP Alumni Association funded it.

UP Covenant Monument Marker installed in 2016.  The UP Covenant Monument, erected in 2016, symbolizes the Covenant of Leaders and Citizens with the nation and the world for renewal, unity, peace, and prosperity. Inaugurated during the administration of Republic of the Philippines President Rodrigo R. Duterte, this monument is a legacy project of UP President Alfredo E. Pascual. The construction was underwritten by Rizal-Blumentritt Pamathalaan Academy President and UP Law alumnus Rafael A. Morales, with spiritual guidance from UP Arts and Letters, retired Professor Consolacion A. Alaras. The design was created by UP Fine Arts Professor Emeritus Nestor O. Vinluan. Project implementation was facilitated by UP Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan, and Campus Architect Enrico B. Tabafunda.


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: Public Arts and Architecture in UP Diliman are available on our Facebook Page., created by Green Dei (Daryll Villena)
Write us at for tips on digital branding , entrepreneurship, consumerism, parenting, health talk, women talk, Pinoy travels and Manila lifestyle.

If you find this post helpful, informative or entertaining, feel free to SHARE it.
Get instant updates from on:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

I’d love to know what you think about this post. Feel free to leave your comment.
I do reply to each of your messages or questions so please come back if you’ve left one.

Disclosure: DeiVille receives products in order to conduct reviews. No monetary compensation was provided unless noted otherwise. All opinions are 100% my own. Some posts may contain web links in exchange for payment. In the event of a giveaway, the sponsor is responsible for delivery of the prize, unless otherwise noted in the posting. I only recommend, discuss, or introduce products/services/businesses I personally use and believe will be a good fit for my readers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *