(Editor’s note: The article below is from the Jan. 9 online edition of The Philippine Star.)
By Katherine Adraneda
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
As the University of the Philippines turns 100 years old, it also continues to evolve as the country’s premier learning institution.
This was how its oldest known alumnus described his alma mater yesterday, as he carried the first of a hundred torches that will eventually light the “perpetual flame” on the Centennial Cauldron that signaled the start of the leading State University’s year-long centennial celebration.
Fernando Javier, who turned 100 years old last Dec. 22, recalled how UP Manila, which used to be the main campus and from where he graduated in 1933 with a degree in Civil Engineering, looked like compared with today’s UP Diliman.
“UP is now much better than before,” said an apparently excited Javier, who now lives in Baguio, maintaining a small garden of flowers and sayote and happily taking care of two dogs.
“Now it is big and has several buildings and better settings. Now it has many students and more professors,” he said.
According to Javier, UP only had around 500 students then, compared to the estimated 25,000 students now enrolled in the university.
Yesterday afternoon, Javier could not contain his delight over the festive atmosphere during the centennial celebration’s kick-off ceremonies, with loud music playing and with the cheerful crowd of past and present UP students.
He was even more proud to be one of the highlights of the festivity.
The torch relay ended with the lighting of the Centennial Cauldron, designed by Joel Ajero, a 1969 Chemical Engineering graduate, which features three pillars representing the three core values of the University, and seven flowers that stand for the seven constituent universities in the UP system: UP Manila, UP Diliman, UP Los Baños, UP Baguio, UP Pampanga, UP Visayas, and UP Mindanao.
UP was born on June 18, 1908 on Padre Faura in Manila. It was simply called UP then.
The transfer of the main campus to UP Diliman in Quezon City took place from Dec. 16, 1948 to Jan. 11, 1949 under the presidency of Dr. Bienvenido Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, the UP Oblation, the university’s symbol, was transferred from the Manila campus, where it stood for 13 years, to the Diliman campus on Feb. 11, 1949.
UP President Dr. Emerlinda Roman asserted that to this day, UP remains “a national resource” and an “institution that has credibility.”
“The University has been through different stages. (It has been through) two world wars, a dictatorship, and two EDSA revolutions. (And up to now) UP is still one of the respected institutions in the country,” Roman stressed.
“The university has done much to deserve its current position. We’ve accomplished pretty much,” she added.
Yesterday’s festivities started at 9 a.m. with a Mass at the chapel of the Philippine General Hospital in the UP Manila campus.
It was followed by a program at the Padre Faura campus, then by a motorcade at 12 noon going to UP’s flagship campus in Diliman.
At the Diliman campus, activities included the torch relay, ringing of the Carillon Bells, 100 gun salute and 10 volley shots from the cannon by Roman to signal the official opening of the UP Centennial Year.
Sky divers carrying banners of the seven constituent universities descended in the open area fronting Plaridel Hall of the College of Mass Communication.
An open air free concert was also held at the amphitheater, featuring UP alumnus Ryan Cayabyab, along with performing groups like the UP Madrigal Singers, the UP Concert Chorus, the UP Symphonic Orchestra, the UP Symphonic Band, the UP Jazz Orchestra, and the UP Pep Squad.