The U.P. Bahay ng Alumni (Home of the Alumni) was opened in 1992, along Pres. Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, in the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman campus. Built as a both a business hub and an events venue for the university, the Bahay ng Alumni has become a favorite hangout of residents and visitors of the U.P., especially with its open café/restaurants.
Before the Bahay ng Alumni was inaugurated, the U.P. community had difficulty fitting its members into local venues for grand events, such as weddings, debuts, conferences, and concerts. Most colleges didn’t have enough covered spaces for their activities, especially with hundreds of alumni flocking for the homecomings. Some had wide open plazas, but that left visitors at the mercy of the weather. Other in-campus locations such as the Benitez Memorial Alumni Hostel and Center, Balay Kalinaw and University Hostel didn’t have the space to accommodate more than 500 people, and were quite out of the way. So the U.P. Alumni Association hired Pros Architects and Planners Inc. to design the new alumni home on a 6000 square-meter plot of land, along Magsaysay Avenue, in the heart of the university. Started in 1990, opened in 1992, and completed in 1997, the design of the Bahay ng Alumni was awarded the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) Design Award, in 2000. The engineers who worked on the structure were the same teams that cooperated on the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice: Alfredo Lazarte Juinio Sr. (circa 1918) and David Mendoza Consunji (1921).
The Bahay ng Alumni is also a quite haven for arts, within the campus. With many paintings and sculpture scattered in its many halls, stained glass windows, and art gallery. The stained glass windows on the front façade and the side gates were designed by Geronimo V. Manahan, with the abstract theme of “Homecoming”.
Geronimo Vicente Manahan is noted as a dean of the U.P. College of Architecture, and its first Cum Laude graduate, in 1962. Manahan is also known for authoring many academic journals on architecture and environmental planning, as well as his critically acclaimed 1994 book: “Philippine Architecture in the 20th Century”. In 1989, Arch. Manahan was awarded by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) Board of Architecture’s Outstanding Architect of the Year.
At the entrance of the Bahay ng Alumni, a statue of a woman greets visitors, with a wreath. Entitled “Alma Mater”, the bronze sculpture was created by the National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva.
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 entrance lobby and the stairways, there are several artworks donated by U.P. College of Fine Arts graduates. The names of these artists are placed on a large wall, alongside other alumni donors who have contributed to the completion of the Bahay ng Alumni.
Jonahmar “Jonah” Aguilar Salvosa (1953) is modern romanticist painter, who was trained in classical painting by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, in the U.P. School of Fine Arts. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Salvosa was winning local and international art competitions, as well as exhibiting and painting commissioned murals and portraits. During this period, Salvosa started following the philosophy of Zen, and started featuring a stronger Asian theme to his works. Presently, Salvosa has begun sharing his time and skills to many environmental causes.
Renato “Boysie” Villavicencio (1950) is a noted fashion designer, who graduated from the U.P. School of Fine Arts. Villavicencio is also newspaper columnist on arts and culture for the Malaya Newspaper. Villavicencio is the present chair of the Erehwon Art Foundation, which holds local and international arts and cultural events that reflect the Philippine spirit. Aside from his work on arts and culture, Villavicencio is also a champion Whippet breeder, and he is the assistant treasurer/director of the Philippine Canine Club Inc. (PCCI).
Danvic Briones (1971)is a painter and graphic designer, who has worked (and did bit acting) in such films as “Calvento Files: The Movie” (1997) and “Ang TV Movie: The Adarna Adventure” (1996). Briones presently resides in Canada, and he has participated in several exhibitions in the USA and Canada. Before leaving for North America, Briones taught at the De la Salle College of St. Benilde in Manila. Briones is also noted for developing the Rescue72 Vest Bag.
Randy “Andoi” Solon (1971) is a graduate of the U.P. college of Fine Arts and the Philippine Women’s University. A multi-awarded artist, Solon most significant award was the 2006-2007 PLDT-PDC Telephone Directory Cover 20th Visual Art National Competition. Solon first took inspiration from Greek mythology, rendered in a monochromatic palette, and he has now expanded to more surreal social commentaries.
One of the mainstays of the social gatherings of the Bahay ng Alumni is the Art Circle Gallery. It first opened in 1992 as a branch of the Old Manila art and antiques dealers, then it evolved into the Odd Manila Gallery as it became a daytime haunt for artists of all disciplines, as well as other denizens of the university. I has now been renamed as the Art Circle Gallery, and it is still owned and managed by Ms. Kitten Chanco-Alcantara.
A few meters from the Art Circle Gallery is a marker dedicated to the revolutionary Filemon ‘Ka Popoy’ Lagman (1953-2001), who was assassinated at the very same spot. Lagman started as a student activist during the First Quarter Storm of the 1970s, before joining the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) underground movement against the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos. After the 1986 EDSA Revolution, which had Pres. Marcos ousted from position, Lagman continued his campaign for social reform. Lagman’s stance against policies of the CPP lead him to break away from the Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Filipino Workers’ Party). His assassination is believed to be perpetrated by his former comrades in the CPP.
The University of the Philippines, Diliman campus, in probably the only school in the Philippines with an open gate policy; where anyone can come in and out without guards stopping your car or checking your ID. Because of this, alumni are always drawn to come back to the campus and hang around, exercise around the Academic Oval, have some documents photocopies at the Shopping Center, eat at the many famous food establishments, or even have a business meeting. The Bahay ng Alumni has provided one of these venues for visitors and residents to hang around their alma mater amidst the tall acacia trees, for an informal homecoming.