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April 2016 Is Not Starting Out Well

The Urban Roamer is one of those who cringe at those “<insert name of month>, please be good to me” type of posts. But it is one of those times that we really, really hope it would be so for the rest of the month at least. Because, quite sadly, the start of April 2016 has been quite bad, and “bad” here may be an understatement. In any case, the beginning of April has been depressing, to say the least.

Due to the nature of this site and its coverage, the Urban Roamer will not discuss here what happened in Kidapawan, North Cotabato last April 1. Do check out other sources online who can provide a better view of this issue. But while I won’t be addressing it here, there’s no doubt the Kidapawan incident is one of the things that has happened this month so far that makes April 2016 very memorable in the most unfortunate manner. My heart goes out to the victims of this unfortunate event.


In the wee hours of the morning of April 1, the community of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, and the greater UP community as well, awoke to a sad and shocking news which was no April Fools joke unfortunately. A beloved UP Diliman landmark, the Bulwagang Rizal or more popularly known as the Faculty Center, was razed by a fire, leaving only its facade mostly intact.

UP Diliman Bulwagang Rizal/Faculty Center on fire (photo courtesy of Chad Booc/Rappler)
After the fire (photo courtesy of Niño Orbeta/Inquirer)

Designed by Carlos Arguelles, the structure known as then as the Faculty Center was completed in 1969 to serve as the offices of the faculty and administration of the then College of Arts and Sciences in UP Diliman. The College of Arts of Sciences would eventually be split into the 3 colleges we know today: the College of Arts and Letters, (CAL) the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, (CSSP) and the College of Science. (CS) The latter two colleges would eventually relocate the administration and faculty offices to other facilities  in the campus while the College of Arts and Letters used it to house its college administration and faculty offices (save for a few offices that housed some faculty members from the CSSP) and renamed it as the Bulwagang Rizal. (Rizal Hall)

Bulwagang Rizal/Faculty Center, 2011

The facility not only served as offices of the CAL and some of CSSP’s faculty (a number of whom are renowned names themselves) but also a repository of books, artworks, and other vital documents such as theses and dissertations that are kept in these offices. It also serves as the home of another important venue in the campus the Pulungang Claro M. Recto (Claro M. Recto Hall) where many dialogues pertaining to the campus and the university in general are being held.

Pulungang Claro M. Recto during Forum 1 of the 2016 UP Third World Studies Center Public Forum Series, January 29, 2016 (photo courtesy of the UP Third World Studies Center)

While I am not a UP alumnus, the building has been a part of my UP memory when I first came to know about this building when I was exploring the campus for the first time in preparation for the UPCAT as well as during my 1 semester stint as a cross-enrollee in UP Diliman. As such, I still remember roaming the corridors of this building. I meant to revisit it again as part of an upcoming series being planned on the UP Diliman campus. Sadly, I will not be able to explore much of this landmark anymore.

At this time of writing, the caused has not been determined yet. For now, my heart goes out to the UP community for their loss. And they need all the help they can get especially in rebuilding those books and documents that were lost. So go out and help to the best that you can.

On the other hand, it also goes to show the need for institutions to have a digital repository of works to ensure their survival even in events like this one. Let this be a lesson to all institutions to invest on digital technology that would safeguard these invaluable works for future generations to appreciate.


Just a day after the incident in UP Diliman, another fire broke out on the morning of April 2. This time, it was in the University of the East (UE) Manila campus. And it was a great fire that affected 3 structures in the campus: the College of Arts and Sciences Building, the College of Engineering, and the University Chapel, all located on the S.H. Loyola (western) side of the campus.

University of the East Manila campus on fire (courtesy of Khai Aranas/CNN Philippines)

From what I heard, the buildings are one of the oldest in the campus, built sometime in the 1950s during the early years of the university. As such it is sad to see a part of the school’s heritage end up like this. Our thoughts as well to the UE community as we hope for the university to quickly recover from this ordeal.

College of Arts and Letters Building at the University of the East Manila campus as seen along S.H. Loyola Street, 2014 (photo grabbed from Google Street View)
College of Arts and Letters Building at the University of the East Manila campus as seen along S.H. Loyola Street, 2014 (photo grabbed from Google Street View)

If there’s any consolation, there is little doubt that that UE will rebound from this tragedy quickly, thanks in part to the support of its owner, tycoon Lucio Tan who can mobilize his vast resources in rehabilitating/rebuilding(?)the affected structures.


If the morning’s incident is not enough, there was yet another incident that happened later that evening. While it’s fortunate it did not involve a fire this time, it was still an unfortunate…and shemeful incident. What exactly happened? Well, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 lost power. For five friggin’ hours or so. (Or maybe more?)

power outage at Terminal 3 with only a few lights working (photo courtesy of Ryan Songalia/Rappler)

You heard it right. An international airport and premier gateway to and from the country had a massive power outage for 5+ hours. And worse of all, it did not have a backup power.

I…I…I am lost for words trying to make sense of all this. How can the management of an international airport and premier gateway, one of the MOST IMPORTANT FACILITIES IN THE METROPOLIS, DID NOT HAVE A FRIGGIN’ CONTINGENCY PLAN in cases like this?  How stupid and incompetent can the people running NAIA get? Oh wait, THEY ARE!!!

Aftermath (photo courtesy of Camille Ante/Manila Bulletin)

Meralco has determined that the outage was not their fault but assuming it is. that does NOT excuse the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to ensure that there are little disruptions as possible that would hamper important operations like air traffic and control.

Congratulations to MIAA General Manager Angel Demonyo Honrado. No, IMO you sir do NOT deserve to be called Angel for the stupidity and incompetence your administration has brought upon our airport. Mere ouster is not enough for the shame and misery you have brought on the travelers going in and out of NAIA. At the very least, you deserved to be kicked out of office and be sued till you rot in jail for being such an arrogant jerk. And take (P)Abaya with you too.


I hope the rest of April will not turn out as bad as this one. Or at the very least, I hope April passes by quickly enough to get over it and the misfortunes it has brought so far.

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