The southern-most main artery in the University of the Philippines (U.P.), Diliman campus, is the Pres. Carlos Polestico Garcia Avenue (1896-1971; eighth Philippine president). The road stretches from Katipunan Avenue in the east, to the University Avenue in the northwest. The east end of the C.P. Garcia Avenue seems unassuming, as many of the buildings are hidden behind tall fences and thick foliage, and drivers do not take a second glance passing through the area. Among these buildings are the Ayala Technology Business Incubator (ATBI, establishing 2000), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI, established 2002-2004), and the National Science Complex (NSC, established in 2012).
Driving further westward, there are several landscaping supply establishments that are selling everything from tropical plants to boulders. These gardening stores were set up during the late 1990s, when the U.P. leased this area to businessmen, with an agreement that no one builds a permanent structure. However, one entrepreneur breached his contract and built a villa, hidden behind all the tall plants he was selling. When the university administration got wind of his offense, they cancelled the contract and kicked him out. Then the university converted the villa to the Balay Chancellor (Chancellor’s House), which was to be the home of any of the university chancellors.
Midway along C.P. Garcia Avenue is the residential area known as Krus na Ligas, which was originally named Gulod (Hilltop). The community has been dated as far back as 1705, and it changed its name to Krus na Ligas after a crossed shaped tree (Toxicodendron Radicans) that grew in the area. By the early 1900s, a small chapel was erected in the site where the tree once grew, but it was later torn down by the early 20th century. The area has also been known as a hotbed of revolutionary activity, from the Katipuneros hiding from the Spanish authorities in the late 1900s, to communist subversives meetings against the regime of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986) and present governments. Now the barangay (local community) is home to families of active or retired U.P. employees, and has several eating and drinking establishments, such as Likha Diwa sa Gulod, the university’s first vegetarian restaurant.
Behind Barangay Krus na Ligas is the middle class neighborhood known as Teachers’ Village, which was established in 1975, when the National Housing Authority awarded parcels of land to all Metro Manila teachers. The streets of the Teacher’s Village are all named after Filipino positive traits and values, and the main artery of the area is Maginhawa Street (Tagalog: ease or comfort). In the past few years, the street has become a hub for foodies and drinkers, with many specialty restaurants opening up throughout the 2 kilometer strip.
Along Maginhawa Street and the corner of Mayumi Street (Tagalog: gentle or refined) is the Servants of St. Joseph run all Catholic girls’ school of the Holy Family School of Quezon City (founded in 1956 and opened in 1966), and behind it is the Catholic boys’ school Claret School of Quezon City (CSQC, opened in 1967.)
Inside the Claret School, there are two wooden sculptures of Saint Antonio María Claret y Clarà (1807-1870), founder of the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Claretians, and one statue of Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Installed in the late 1990s, these pieces seem to be the work of the Paete town sculptor, Luis Ac-ac.
Luisito Ac-Ac (1952) is first and foremost a product of the carving town of Paete, Laguna Province. Ac-ac took his further studies at the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts, to major in Visual Communication. Ac-ac also minored in sculpture, where he apprenticed under fellow Pateño, Froilan Madriñan, and National Artists, Napoleon Abueva. Upon graduating, Ac-Ac worked as an illustrator at the Bookman Printing and Kayumanggi Press and El Dorado Comics of Graphic and Atlas. He later returned to his home town, and has been practicing wood carving hence.
At the plaza/parking lot of the Claret School is a life-sized bronze monument to Saint Antonio María Claret, which as installed between 2004 and 2005. There is no signature of the artist, and any plaque indicating who made it. I had inquired with the school administration, but they have no records of the artist.
Further down Mayumi Street is the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, which was designed by the National Artist for Architecture, Leandro Locsin, in 1972-1975. Inside the church are sculptures by another National Artist, Napoleon Abueva. Beside the church are the offices of Claretian Missionaries, who manage the church.
Leandro Valencia Locsin (1928-1994) is a man of many talents and interests, as evident in his entry to pre-law, then transferring to music and then architecture at the University of Santo Tomas. Early in his career, Locsin was creating theater sets for ballet and musical performances. Throughout his career, Locsin has designed 71 residences, 81 buildings, and 1 state palace; among these are 9 churches and chapels, and 17 government buildings. Best known for his massive, yet very breezy architectural style, Locsin’s most famous works are the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Folk Arts Theatre, the Philippine International Convention Center, 1976; and the Philippine Plaza Hotel, the National Arts Center at Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna, the terminal of the Manila International Airport, and the Istana Nurul Iman (Palace of Religious Light), the palace of the Sultan of Brunei, which has a total floor area of 200,000 square meters. Locsin has garnered much recognition throughout his career, including the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Architecture in 1959, the American Institute of Architects Hawaii Chapter’s Pan-Pacific Citation for consistent excellence in design in 1961, the Rizal Centennial Award for Architecture in 1962, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1970, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award in 1972, and the Gold Medal Award from the Philippine Institute of Architects in 1978, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1980, the United Architects of the Philippines’ Likha Award and Gold Medal, and National Artist in Architecture in 1990.
On the nearby parallel road to Mayumi Street is Mahusay Street (skillful or well done) there is an unusual set of sculptures of animals in front of the Ferrer house. Entitled the “Diliman Jungle” by the owners, it was installed in the 1974, probably as a means for the owners to entertain their children as well as the others kids of the neighborhood.
Returning to the northwest drive along C.P. Garcia Avenue, the densely packed houses of Krus na Ligas give way to wide green spaces and tall trees. At the corner of Emilio Jacinto Street and C.P. Garcia Avenue are the Centennial Residence Hall/Dorm and the remains of the U.P. Equine Farm. The Equine Farm or U.P. Stud Farm was part of the U.P. School of Veterinary Science, which was one of the first colleges of the university that was established in 1908. After World War II (1938-1945), the institute was moved from the City of Manila to the newly chartered Quezon City, and subsequently changed its name to the U.P. College of Veterinary Medicine (U.P. VetMed). The U.P. VetMed opened the Equine Farm between the 1960s and 1970s, and started servicing customers from the San Lazaro Race Track in Manila and the Manila Polo Club in Makati. By 1983, the VetMed began its move from the Diliman campus to the U.P. Los Baños campus, and the Equine Farm closed its doors in the early 1990s.
Further down the C.P. Garcia is the DOST- Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), which was constructed between 2004-2005. Beside the ICTO is the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or PHIVOLCS, which was built in 1987.
At the wide plaza of the ICTO building is an abstract sculpture entitled “Born Free”, by National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva. This sculpture was originally placed in the U.P. College of Science, and was moved to its present location in the early 2000s.
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.
Finally at the end of C.P. Garcia Avenue and at the corner of the University Avenue is the U.P. Automated Guideway Transit System, which was a project of the U.P. College of Engineering to develop a quick transport system throughout the university. Construction began between 2011-2012 and the first test runs were conducted between 2014-2015.
Every day, thousands of vehicles traverse C.P. Garcia, with only a small percent using it as a means to get into the University of the Philippines. Most drivers use this route as an access point to get to Katipunan Avenue, Maginhawa Street or Commonwealth Avenue. Sadly, many of these people fail to see the historical or cultural significance of these places, and drive on their merry ways.