UP @100

january 8 is the start of University of the Philippines ‘s centennial celebration.  my friend celia carlos and i went to diliman with her grandchild justine to celebrate. we were greeted by people wearing t-shirts with the slogan UP @100 ang Galing!

my family studied in UP. my father studied agriculture, major in genetics in UP Los Banos. my brother sonny, psychology; sister-in-law lynette, fine arts ; carmelo , fine arts ; ceres , premed; my niece, mara, fine arts. laraine, our daughter is in her first year of b.s. psych. all were busy with work and could not make it to the rites so i went out to UP plaza oblation as the sole representative of the villaribas.

i saw thousands of people in the plaza and felt good being in diliman community . celia and i scanned the crowd for familiar faces but we saw only a few- princess nemenzo, mercy fabros and tessie ang-see, so we joined them. then i caught old friends from the netherlands – carlo and maya butalid . carlo and maya had just celebrated their 50th birthdays and they still looked youthful. as we waited for the 100 torchbearers go around the plaza, we exchanged gifts and remembered our years in exile in europe . i told maya and carlo that our life in europe gave us many friends like the diliman commune. as the oldest torchbearer,100 year-old engineer fernando javier was making his way, i asked them if we would ever reach a hundred with our faculties intact. they laughed with their daughter and i told them” let’s hope so.”

remembering our teachers is a good way to spend the centennial of UP. by recalling from whom we learned well in our student years, we can distill part of the lessons of our generation. i was just 16 years old when i entered UP diliman, a year younger than laraine who enrolled when she turned 17 last year. i asked celia carlos whom she remembered as good teachers. we agreed that ofelia angangco and mercedes concepcion were at the top of our list. mercedes concepcion is the honored international sociologist-demographer. we both met her recently and was awed by her memory – she remembered our names. she is still handling classes and hasnt stopped working since the 1950’s . but what really inspired us was that she walked straight, looked at you with affection and then would say something you know that she knew who you are.

ofelia angangco was chair of the sociology department in the 60’s to 70’s . she is ebullient and gracious up the the present. there were many events that she organized for us and saw us through difficult years. student activism was on the rise then and she knew we went to anti-vietnam rallies. she wanted us to finish our degree and found creative ways to keep us in college when many of our friends were dropping out to serve the people. am especially grateful to her for allowing me to do artwork side by side with my formal major, sociology. she even offered to sponsor me in taking fine arts as a secondary degree but when i saw the bohemian students of fine arts, i declined and was just happy with my small circle of class 70.

the other teachers we remembered were miss mapa and miss rafols. both were colourful teachers. miss mapa was a mathematician and she taught us calculus. for every page in the blue book that we filled up, even if it was the wrong computation, we got credit. we realize how difficult calculus was but she was so kind and gentle, we just plowed through the equations and passed the course. if you ask me now what calculus is , i will tell you how miss mapa beamed and smiled when writing out 3’s as our grades. i could not have asked for anything else with such generous spirit. the other teacher, miss rafols was our teacher in euthenics. she had several rules in her class. we were not to wear perfume nor carry hankies. she said the perfumes were bad for us and that taking a simple bath daily was enough. now i dont remember why hankies were banned in her class. what was euthenics for? to become ladies with the right conduct. ms. rafols was murdered and ms. mapa passed on peacefully.

i still remember other teachers but will write in another blog . what i want to say in this centennial story is that being part of a hundred year-old institution is like a reward for social intelligence. i thank my parents for sending me to UP. UP gave me the people i learned adequately from . the friends i met in UP are the people i care about up to now e.g. family nemenzo who invited me to join them during the concert and fireworks. i saw amihan abueva who told us that she went back to UP to complete her degree in 2004. she was fulltime student organizer in the 70’s and did not graduate. when she came back from working overseas as coordinator for ECPAT ( advocacy against child trafficking), she found out that only one course was credited and she had to study again to finish a degree. i confessed to her that it was partly my group’s task in the martial law years to get UP scholars to serve the people full time. she replied ” yes, you all convinced us to drop out from college and go up the mountains.” but she wasnt resentful and understood that it was the challenge of the period.

when the 60 person wind orchestra played the overture,how i wish many could go to UP as scholars but that would be for another era. as the UP gymnast champions performed their winning numbers, i sent a prayer for all our youth to be as vigorous and fit for the coming challenges. finally, as the fireworks lighted up the skies and all the people were awed by such heavenly burst, i asked God to send us a hundred years of justice and peace. amen.

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Explore posts in the same categories: History, Lifelong learning

One Comment on “UP @100”

  1. Mila Maramot Says:

    I am a product of UST and FEU and quite happy with the education I got in these institutions, but I hold UP in high esteem. I believe the choice of school has a lot to do with the quality of education one gets. As water can not rise above its own level, so can a student not be better than what his school has to offer.


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