Santa Mesa’s “university town”: the “university street” of Teresa

Right outside the main gates of PUP Mabini Campus is Teresa Street, which also serves to connect the campus to Santa Mesa’s main thoroughfare Old Sta. Mesa Street.

teresa st.

The street is said to be named after the wife of Don Gonzalo Tuason (or Tuazon) from landed Tuason family which owned wide tracts land which happened to include Santa Mesa. And yes, it is also known as the maternal bloodline of the former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

Teresa St. is also notable for being the only remnant of Manila’s street pedestrianization program initiated by former Mayor Lito Atienza. Originally it was intended that the street not to be opened to any vehicular traffic. But somehow the rules were somewhat softened as vehicles ply along the stretch of the street from time to time. Besides, there is not much a regular flow of vehicles in this street, save for some pedicabs passing by. Teresa St. has always been mostly a street for foot traffic.



the tiles put in place throughout the street's length are still intact

Given its proximity to PUP, it is not surprising to see various businesses that have put up shop in this part of town. Internet shops, food stalls, school supply retailers to name a few. Given also the market, mostly students coming from the middle or lower classes, it is a good place to find cheap foodfare as well.




There used to be establishments located just right across PUP that have now been demolished as part of the modernization plan of the Philippine National Railways. These “homes along da riles” may have long gone but the iconic image of the train passing along Teresa St. still remains a part of the everyday life not only of the residents but also of the students, faculty, and employees of the campus who pass by this quaint little street.


acknowledgements to the book Daluyan: A Historical Dictionary of the Streets of Manila published by the formerly known as the National Historical Institute for the additional information.

© the Urban Roamer


Santa Mesa’s “university town”: PUP Mabini Campus (Part 2)

If there’s one thing that would define a PUP Mabini experience, (whether you studied high school or college) and if there would one defining landmark of the campus that no true-blue PUP alumnus/alumna would miss, it would be the (in)famous lagoon right at the heart of the campus, with its algae-colored waters and the smell that has made it a stuff of legend.


It’s also a pleasant surprise for me personally to see landmarks that you never knew as interesting before but have come to have a newfound appreciation as you learn things over time. Like for instance this building below which was and still serves as a canteen in the campus actually has some nice modern architecture applied to it.


Reminiscent of UP Diliman’s Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, the Interfaith Chapel located on the eastern portion of the campus sports a round-shaped architecture of sorts.


On the western end of the campus is another imposing structure named after another famous Marcos opposition figure, though he did not study in the university. Called the Ninoy Aquino Learning Resources Center. It is where the main library and research center is located, not to mention a venue for university functions with a number of function rooms as well as an auditorium located at the building’s topmost floor.


Beside it is another curious landmark in the campus. Described by some as some watchtower, it is actually nothing more than just a facility holding the campus’ water supply. Yup, just a concrete water tank given some architecturally-pleasing design.


Right across the Ninoy Aquino Center and the glorified water tank would be this roamer’s alma mater in high school, the PUP Laboratory High School, and the cluster of four school buildings that composes the complex.



Up north near the gates would be the university’s sports complex, most imposing of which would be the gymnasium, which doesn’t look like one at first glance. On the other end right across would be the track and field oval and grandstand, which are undergoing repairs the time I went there.



As of this writing, there are a number of renovation works being done throughout the campus, with a little help it seems from the Metro Manila Development Authority. Here’s hoping that these improvement would complement the aesthetics of the campus and more importantly make it more conducive for future generations of students to enjoy.

© The Urban Roamer


Santa Mesa’s “university town”: the PUP Mabini Campus (Part 1)

October 17 marks the anniversary of the country’s most highly populated university, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) which was first established in 1904 by the American colonial government as the Manila Business School. While the university is a network itself of campuses located around Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country, PUP will always be associated more with its main campus located in Santa Mesa, Manila. (somewhat in the same manner as Diliman is to the University of the Philippines)


the towering pylons near the gate, symbolizing truth, excellence, and wisdom

Santa Mesa’s association with the university began in the 1960’s when , in particular the area along the north bank of the Pasig River near the intersection of Teresa and Anonas Sts., was allotted by the national government as a site for the expanding school then known as the Philippine College of Commerce. By 1968, the PCC has established itself in Santa Mesa, now being the college’s main campus from its original site along S.H. Loyola St. (formerly Lepanto) though it still held on to that piece of property and was for a long time a campus for the institution’s technical education program.

Google Earth view of the PUP Mabini Campus

For more than forty years of this campus, countless students have walked through those gates, many coming from the middle and lower classes of society who were fortunate to become “iskolars ng bayan.” I should know this, having been a student and a graduate of the PUP Laboratory High School. (yes folks, PUP has a high school in case you didn’t know)


The sculpture at the gate is called “Consolidated Growth Through Education” done in 1974 by renowned sculptor Eduardo Castrillo.


Also at the gate is a memorial called “Dambana ng Kabayanihan” or the Shrine of Heroism, dedicated to the youth leaders who opposed the Marcos dictatorship, many of whom came from this university.


Officially, the Santa Mesa campus is called the Mabini campus, named after one of the leading intellectuals of the Philippine Revolution, Apolinario Mabini. Interestingly, Mabini used to live in a house in the Nagtahan area, around  1.5-2 kms. away from the campus, right near where Nagtahan Bridge now stands. Due to government projects along the Pasig River, the old Mabini House had to be relocated to another location. What better place suited to move it to than to PUP’s campus that was named after him. Thus, the Mabini Shrine stands as a landmark in the campus since 2008.


Interestingly, right across it is the monument now known as the PUP Obelisk with the university’s logo at the helm: a golden star with 5 concentric circles . At the front is the bust of Apolinario Mabini.

DSC01550Another interesting landmark in the campus is the main college building. Interesting in an architectural aspect of sorts as the building sports a rather unique look which is in a shape of a 3-winged airplane propeller. (refer to the satellite image above for reference)



Over the years, the PUP campus has been home to fiery student activism. As was mentioned earlier, PUP was one of the hotbeds of opposition during the Marcos era. But it came at a price for a number of those who opposed the dictatorship. One of them was a student leader named Charlie del Rosario. A founding secretary-general of Kabataang Makabayan, (Patriotic Youth) a militant student organization during the 1960’s-70’s and an instructor of PUP, he was the first documented victim of enforced disappearance or a desaparecido in 1971. In his memory, the student center of PUP was named after him.


note: the building is undergoing renovations during the time I took this (Oct. 2010)

Another prominent Marcos opposition figure from the university is Dr. Nemesio Prudente, who served as the university’s president when Martial Law was declared in 1972. He was soon arrested and remained in prison until 1986, when the new government under Corazon Aquino freed Prudente and was reinstalled as university president until his term ended in 1991. Apart from his outspoken views, Prudente is credited for modernizing and expanding PUP into what it is today. In his memory, a large open space in front of the college building known as the Freedom Plaza was dedicated in his memory.


Even until today, activism is still alive in the campus in a number of ways, even going as extreme as throwing desks and chairs and setting them on fire in protest against increase in tuition.



Regardless of one might think about the reputation of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, there is more to offer in this campus beyond the atmosphere of activism, and the graffiti that comes with it.

For one thing, it’s nice to see that in the midst of the frenzy that characterizes this place especially on school days that there are pockets of green, open spaces in the campus. For one, the area near the Pasig River has been converted to a linear park, a nice place to stroll and study in peace, that is if you don’t mind the sight of the oil depots on the opposite end of the Pasig River.

Speaking of the Pasig River, the campus has made good use of its riverside location by getting its own river ferry station of Pasig River ferry service. This makes PUP’s Mabini Campus the only campus in Metro Manila at least that manages to have its ferry station.

To be continued…

© The Urban Roamer