Quezon City

UP Diliman’s northwest corner (seventh of a series)

Now that we’ve completed the round of the Academic Oval, it’s time to explore the rest of this vast UP Diliman campus. Unfortunately, save for some prominent landmarks, there is nothing much the Urban Roamer could find on many of these places. Heck, some of them are, sad to say, not that impressive as landmarks themselves. But we’ll cover what we can cover, though we may miss out on some others to which I apologize.

The Commonwealth corridor

The property of the University of the Philippines in Diliman is so huge that it actually crosses over Commonwealth Avenue and beyond. A sizeable portion of it is actually a forested area called the Arboretum. Unfortunately, I think the area, not even a portion of it, is open to the public. So apart from the satellite photos, the next best thing is to view it from the back of the UP-Ayala Land Technohub area, which itself is not accessible to the public except to the people working there.

Located within the Arboretum is the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute. Yes, we have a nuclear research facility despite no having a nuclear power plant. If you are on top of a footbridge in the area, you won’t miss the egg-shaped dome in the middle of the Arboretum. It is said to have been constructed in 1963.

Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (© kencaliwara / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Along the southwest lane of Commonwealth Avenue can be found the aforementioned UP-Ayala Land Technohub, the IT park joint venture of the University of the Philippines and Ayala Land launched in 2006. Apart from business process outsourcing (BPO) offices, the area also has commercial spaces and a Microtel Hotel. Fun fact, before this area became a technological park, it was actually used as fair grounds during the Christmas season for a few years.

Another notable landmark in the area is the SEAMEO (Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization) Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH), a regional research center which is “principally dedicated to identifying common and unique education problems and needs of Southeast Asian countries and developing innovative and technology-based solutions to address these problems”. Its present building was built around or after 1981, when it was established in the country.


Nearby is the Asian Institute of Tourism building which opened in 1978. It is the home of UP’s tourism program. Beside it is the home of the Philippine Social Science Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of social science knowledge. The building where PSSC stands was built in 1983 through the help of the Japanese government.

Across those buildings is the office of the Commission on Human Rights, with a monument of the late senator and human rights advocate Jose W. Diokno in front. A new building for the office is being planned, one of the many buildings in the campus being built as we shall soon see here and in succeeding installments.

East of Commonwealth

Coming from Commonwealth Avenue and the CHR office, there are a cluster of academic buildings and centers to visit. From the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, there is the National College of Public Administration and Governance, UP’s center for those looking to enter public service. They also offer crash courses for newly-elected officials.

Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy
National College of Public Administration and Governance

Nearby is the E. Virata Hall, named after Enrique Virata who served not only as a faculty member but also a business manager who helped developed land grants for the university. And yes, he is the father of Cesar Virata, who himself has a college building in the campus named after him. Institute of Small Scale Industries, the university’s institution that provides trainings and research that would benefit SMEs. Inside the building is a work by Napoleon Abueva titled “Tribute to the Filipino Entrepreneur”

Across it is Bonifacio Hall, named of course after Andres Bonifacio. Being someone who comes from the working class background, it was apt for his name to grace the building of the School of Labor and Industrial Relations. The building, which was completed in 1960, features a mural which is speculated to be by Arturo Luz.

Also found in the premises is a bust of Isabelo De Los Reyes, the founder of the first labor union in the Philippines and also helped found the Philippine Independent Church

Right across is the School of Urban and Regional Planning, which prides itself as the only graduate school of urban and regional planning in the country. Its original building was completed in 1984 with a second building recently completed.

Taking a turn towards Magsaysay Avenue is the building of the College of Social Work and Human Development, a surprisingly massive structure despite being one of the not-quite popular colleges in the campus. It also has been given the name recently as Tandang Sora Hall, after the monicker given to Melchora Aquino who prominently figured as having tended to wounded Katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution. Beside it is the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, a center that aims to address issues related to gender matters.

Tandang Sora Hall
UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, with a sculpture by Sandra Torrijos called “Dakila” (Great) right in front of the facade

Interestingly, the area across both Tandang Sora Hall and the UPCWGS is an area that’s considered “masculine” in character, the Department of Military Science and Tactics Complex. This is the home of the Vanguards, UP’s ROTC corps. It is actually complex of various buildings including the Vanguard Building which is the main office of the Vanguards and smaller single-story structures such as Magno Hall, Peralta Hall, Atienza Hall, and others which I assumed are names of notable Vanguard alumni.

The Vanguard Building

Ylanan Hall and the future UP sports complex

While UP is well-known for its academic excellence, its sports programs are often overlooked. Never mind that it does well in other sports like athletics, softball, and badminton among others. In a basketball-crazed country, UP is not considered a sports contender.

It also does not help that it had to contend with poor sporting facilities for a long time. From the poorly maintained track field to its gym which may possibly be a relic of the war era with its quonset hut architecture. Unfortunately there is no information as to when it was built, but the gym is known officially as Ylanan Hall, after Regino Ylanan, an acclaimed sportsman who headed UP’s physical education department and was instrumental in the founding of the National Collegiate Athletic Association of the Philippines in 1924 and, eventually, the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines in 1938 when UP left NCAA to form that collegiate sports league it is currently a part of.

Things however are changing. There has been a flurry of activity in recent years as work is currently underway at this time of writing for the renovation of current sports facilities and construction of new ones. As such, Ylanan Hall is currently undergoing renovation while new facilities are being built around the area, such as the new football stadium, softball field, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool and stadium.

The future swimming pool and stadium
The football stadium nearing completion

The Alumni complex

A few blocks from the planned sports complex along Magsaysay Avenue is the “Alumni complex” which is composed of two buildings. One of them is the Fonacier Hall, where the UP Alumni Association is located and named after Tomas Fonacier, the first executive director of UP’s Office of Alumni Relations. It was built around the 1960s but suffered from a fire during the 2010s which necessitated in extensive renovations.

Fonacier Hall

Beside it is the Bahay ng Alumni, which serves as the campus’ events venue and a commercial center as well. Completed in 1997, it was built in time for UP’s 90th anniversary the following year. Apart from the sculpture of Napoleon Abueva called “Alma Mater” which welcomes guests at the main entrance and the glass windows designed by former College of Architecture dean Geronimo Manahan, the building is also known to be the home a campus dining institution, the Chocolate Kiss Cafe.

On a more somber note, the steps on the east wing of Bahay ng Alumni bears a marker dedicated to labor leader Filemon “Popoy” Lagman. This is because it was on these steps where Lagman was assassinated on February 6, 2001. While the assassins were not caught, it is believed that he was killed by members of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army for falling out of the movement.

While not really part of the Alumni Complex, the Epsilon Chi Fitness Center serves as an eastern extension of sorts as it hosts some commercial establishments, most notably Rodic’s Diner, the famed campus dining place known for their tapa. It also serves as an extansion too of the sports complex as it is the practice court of the UP men’s basketball team, the Fighting Maroons. Especially at this time of writing with Ylanan Hall under renovation, its completion in 2018 came just in time it seemed. Interestingly, the building was designed by none other than former Miss Universe Philippines 2011 Shamcey Supsup-Lee, who herself is an architecture graduate from the university.

To be continued…

Acknowledgements as well to the University of the Philippines, UP Diliman, Iskomunidad, Wikipedia, SEAMEO-INNOTECH, Philippine Social Science Council, Philippine Star, Lakansining, School of Urban and Regional Planning, and UP Vanguard

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