At the eastern end of the University of the Philippines’ (U.P.) Academic Oval is the curving road that is neither considered part of the southern road of the Pres. Manuel Roxas Avenue or the northern road of Pres. Sergio Osmeña Avenue, neither is it considered part of the side streets of A. Ma. Regidor Street or E. Ma. Guerrero Street. The first building on the east curve is the Vinzons Hall, which was designed by Arch. Cesar Homero Concio, in 1959. Named after Wenceslao Quinito Vinzons (1910–1942), he was the youngest delegate, and signatory of the 1935 Constitution Convention, and he is also most noted in UP as the Father of Student Activism. The Vinzons Hall is home to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, University Student Council, and the school newspaper: The Philippine Collegian, of which Wenceslao Vinzons was one of its editors.
Arch. Cesar Homero Concio Sr. (1907-2003) first graduated with bachelor of science degree in civil engineering at the University of the Philippines in 1928, and then took up architecture at the Mapua Institute of Technology in 1932. In 1933, Concio ranked first in the government examination for architects. Later on, he studied his masters in town planning, and housing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1940. Upon returning to the Philippines, Concio started working at the Department of Public Works, from 1940-1945, while teaching at Mapua. By 1946, he headed the Department of Architecture of Mapua, and became its first dean. In 1948, the Capital City Planning Commission was created, and Concio was appointed executive secretary. He is also a president of the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA). In 1969, Concio was given the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan by the City of Manila.
At the front of Vinzons Hall is Ramon Lazaro Martinez’ 1911 sculpture, entitle “Monumento sa mga Bayani ng 1896” (Monument to the Heroes of 1896), which is a likeness of Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro (1863-1897), the founder of the revolutionary Katipunan (Samahang Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) against the Spanish colonizers in 1896. The statue was originally located in the Balintawak of Quezon City, where it was believed that Andres Bonifacio first led the Katipuneros to declare their independence from Spain, by tearing apart their residential certificates (cedula), as a symbol that they are not under Spanish rule. It was moved to the front of Vinzons Hall in 1968, as it stood in the path of the construction of the Luzon North Expressway.
Ramon Lazaro Martinez (1869-1950) completed his artistic training at the Escuela de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado in 1898. Originally a painter, Martinez won a bronze medal for his painting “Coming from the Market” at the 1904 Universal Exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri. Soon he started focusing on sculpture and has been noted to create the “La Madre Filipina” found on top of the Jones Bridge, and the ornamental sculpturing of the Legislative Building prior to World War II.
Still on east curve road and beside Vinzons Hall is the U.P. College of Business Administration (BA) building, named the Cesar E.A. Virata School of Business. Built between 1978-1980, the building was named after Cesar Emilio Aguinaldo Virata (born 1930), a former dean of the BA and was the Finance Minister and Prime Minister in the 1980s, during the latter point of the regime of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986). In front of the BA building is the 1978-80 sculpture by the National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleón Isabelo Veloso Abueva (born 1930), entitled “The Spirit of Business”.
Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (born 1930) studied at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, under National Artist, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), who was then the director of the school. Although trained in the classical style of sculpting, Abueva broke from its mold and began experimenting on modernist styles and techniques. Soon he became known as and Godfather of Philippine Modern Sculpture. Aside from the many historical monuments that are found all over the Philippines, Abueva has also been commissioned to create sculptures around the world. In his youth, he was awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award; which would herald more awards and distinctions in his life. He was proclaimed National Artist for Sculpture in 1976, making him the youngest recipient of this distinction. And just like his mentor, Abueva also served as dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts.
At the lobby of the BA building is the 1978 mural “The Barter of Panay” by the former U.P. College of Fine Arts (U.P. CFA) dean and National Artist for Painting, José Tanig Joya Jr. (1931-1995). This is an abstract painting that speaks of the tale of the arrival of the ten Bornean datu (chieftains) and their families in the island of Panay, as they escaped the wars of their homeland. They met with the native Ati people and their chief Markudo, and negotiated to barter a large part of the islands for the new settlers. According to the story, once the Ati agreed to the trade of goods, they moved to the uplands, while the Borneans took over the coastal areas and populate the Visayas region for generations to come. The ten datu are known as Puti, Sumakwel, Dumangsil, Lubay, Balkasua, Bangkaya, Paiburong, Dumangsul, Dumalugdog and Paduhinog. This event is commemorated and colorfully celebrated in the Ati-atihan and Dinagyang festivals in Aklan and Iloilo.
José Tanig Joya (1931-1995) graduated from the U.P. School of Fine Arts in 1953, and became immediately part of the Neo-Realist movement of the period. In the 1960s, Joya served as the president of the Art Association of the Philippines, and he served as the dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts from 1970-1978. In 1962, Joya and Napoleón Isabelo Veloso Abueva (born 1930) were selected to represent the Philippines at the prestigious Venice Biennale. It would take 53 more years, before any Filipino artist would participate again at the Venice Biennale. As an artist, Joya was honored with the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award (TOYM) and Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1961, the ASEAN Cultural Award in 1970, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila in 1971, the Order of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government in 1987, the Gawad CCP para sa Sining in 1991, and he was conferred the title of National Artist in 2003.
Moving back westward on the counterclockwise route is the Pres. Sergio S. Osmeña Avenue (named after the 4th Philippine president). At the start of Osmeña Avenue, there stands the UP College of Law’s Malcolm Hall, which was designed and completed by Juan Marcos Arellano y de Guzmán (1888-1960) in 1948. The building was named after the Philippine Supreme Court Associate Judge George A. Malcolm, who became the 1st permanent dean of the College of Law in 1911.
Juan Marcos de Guzmán Arellano (1888 – 1960) is known as one of the Philippines’ founding fathers of architecture. He finished his studies at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila in 1908; while taking art lessons under noted masters Lorenzo Leogardo Guerrero (1835 -1904), Toribio Asona Antillon (1856-1913), and Fabian de la Rosa. When most people thought that he would pursue a full time career in the arts, Arellano decided to take architectural studies at the Drexel Institute in 1908, and further architectural studies at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. However the draw to painting could not be resisted and he to additional art studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1911. As an architect, Arellano is most noted for Manila’s Metropolitan Theater (1935), Executive House (1926, now houses the National Museum of the Philippines), the Manila Post Office Building (1926), and Jones Bridge.
After the Malcom Hall is the U.P. College of Engineering and former U.P. College of Architecture’s home, the Melchor Hall. Designed as the mirror image of the Palma Hall, across the Academic Oval, Arch. Cesar Homero Concio completed between 1949-1951.The building was named after Alejandro Melchor (1900-1947), who served as the College Secretary from 1926-1940, and he was a Cabinet Secretary under Pres. Sergio Osmeña. Now the engineering students have Melchor Hall all to themselves, as the College of Architecture has moved to its new and permanent home along Reyes Street, in 2005.
In the side road of Apacible Street, beside the Melchor Hall, there is a gigantic structure called the “Slide and Rule Sundial”, which was erected by UP Alumni Engineers (UPAE) between 1968-1972. However, this sundial has gone into disrepair and in has been partially swallowed by the thick grasses.
In front of the Melchor Hall, there is a recent “replacement” to the “Slide and Rule Sundial”, it is the 2010 “Tau Alpha Century Sundial” by Eng. Mario Montejo.
There was another sundial that was constructed at the U.P. Manila campus, in the 1930s. Designed by Edward R. Hyde, it was later removed to give way to the ROTC marching grounds.
At the corner of Osmeña Avenue and Roces Street are the U.P. Tennis Courts, which is mainly used for the Physical Education classes (PE) and the UP Tennis Club.
After the Tennis Courts, one can spot amidst the thick greens is the rear entrance of the 1976 U.P. Film Center, which is now known as the Cine Adarna. The theater is the home of the U.P. Film Institute, and the renamed the building after the 1941 LVN film classic “Ibong Adarna”, directed by Vicente Salumbides.
The park and the many trees beside the Cine Adarna is the Washington SyCip Garden of Native Trees, which was inaugurated in 2012. The area was named after the businessman, Washington Z. SyCip (born 1921), who is noted as the founder of the Asian Institute of Management and the accounting firm SGV & Company. In the middle of the garden is the U.P. Carillon Tower, which is also known as U.P. Memorial Campanille and the Bajo las Campañas. Originally conceived in the 1940s, it was only completed in 1952, as designed by the National Artist for Architecture, Juan Felipe Nakpil. The Carillon is 39.6 meters, and it used to have 46 tuned copper bells by the Van Bergen Bell, Chimes and Carillon Foundry Company. As it fell into disrepair over the decades, the U.P. administration decided to restore the Carillon in time for the centennial celebrations of the UP (1908-2008). Hence restoration started in 2005, with 36 new bells installed by the Royal Bell Foundry Petit & Fritsen B.V. Holland. Now the Carillon chimes for every hour, and plays a series of songs every 5 pm, which the music of the carillon tower floating throughout the campus has become a permanent part of the UP experience.
The old bells of the Carillon Tower can now be viewed at the lobby of the 1960 U.P. Theater, or now known as the Villamor Hall. Named after the 2nd UP President, Ignacio B. Villamor, the theater has be host to many local and national events, including beauty pageants such as the Mutya ng Pilipinas. Inside the theater is the Aldaba Recital Hall; which was named after the singer and founder of the Opera Guild of the Philippines, Dalisay J. Aldaba (1912-2006).
In 2017, the sculpture “Ang Pagbabalik Lupa” by Anton del Castillo was installed in front of the UP Theater. The artwork was originally presented at the Quezon Hall Amphitheater, for the university’s “Sansinukob” exhibition, for the 2017 February, National Arts Month. The work was moved in March, as the school had to use the amphitheater for other activities. The sculpture represents hesitant departure of the Kalinga gods from the earth, the work can just as be mistaken of the women mourning the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb.
The latest sculpture installed in front of Villamor Hall is Ferdinand Cacnio‘s “UPlift“. Having a controversial launch, the sculpture is Cacnio’s female version of the iconic “Oblation”, by Guillermo Tolentino.
Ferdinand Reyes Cacnio (born 1960) is a sculptor, from a noted family of artists. Cacnio first took BS Psychology and BS Civil Engineering at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman, before the call towards art finally overtook him. Cacnio first ran a graphic design company, before finally diving into sculpture at the age of 45. His first solo exhibit “Dancer” was a success, which led to numerous awards and commissions. Cancnio is active in many art organizations, such as the Tuesday Group of Artists, Art Association of the Philippines (AAP), Sining Tambobong, and the Society of Philippine Sculptors (SPS).
After the U.P. Theater is the home of U.P. Conservatory of Music, the Abelardo Hall, built in 1963. The complex was named after Nicanor Sta. Ana Abelardo (1893-1921), the Kundiman (traditional Filipino romantic music) composer who is most noted for penning the school hymn “U.P. Beloved” or “U.P. Naming Mahal”.
At the end of the plaza inside the U.P. Conservatory of Music, is a bust of Nicanor Abeladro, which was installed in 1966. Looking at the craftsmanship, I could assume that this is the work of Anastacio Caedo (1907-1990).
Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990) graduated from U.P. School of Fine Arts; under the tutelage of National Artist, Guillermo E. Tolentino. During his apprenticeship under Tolentino, the two took to body building as a means to understand the human anataomy and strengthen their bodies for he very physical work of sculpture. This love for body building led Tolentino to fashion his opus “The Oblation” after Caedo’s physique. Later Caedo made name for himself by sculpting many religious works for the Jesuits at the Ateneo de Manila and busts of the National Hero Dr. José Rizal for many of the Philippine Embassies around the world. Caedo was nominated three times as a National Artist of the Philippines (in 1983, 1984, and 1986); which he turned down, to avoid the politics in the art world.
The westbound route on the U.P. Academic Oval ends at the U.P. College of Mass Communication’s 1969 Plaridel Hall, before returning to the Quezon Hall administrative building. The Plaridel Hall was named after Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitán (1850-1896), the writer and journalist; who was an integral part of the Reform Movement against the Spanish Colonization (1521-1898), and his pen name was Plaridel.
The 2.2 kilometer tour of the UP Academic Oval ends with administrative building, the Quezon Hall. Although there are other edifices that I have skipped in these articles, they were deliberately omitted to focus on the more historically and culturally significant locations. The next series of articles will focus on the individual sites buildings along the Academic Oval, and the great collection of art in these places.