Four National Artists at UP Diliman Month

The lives and works of four National Artists of the Philippines are at the heart of Panahon ng Luwalhati, UP Diliman’s celebration of the arts and culture month in February.

The featured artists, all of whom observed their birth centennial in 2015, are: Lamberto Avellana, conferred National Artist for Theater and Film in 1976, the first double awardee in the history of the award; Manuel Conde (Film, 2009), Severino Montano (Theater, 2001) and Nestor Vicente Madali (NVM) Gonzalez (Literature, 1997).

This year, as the University celebrates the beginning of artists’ second century, the festivities draw inspiration from Gonzalez’s  novel “A Season of Grace,” which “counters the myth of the Philippines’ lost native past and cultural weakness in the face of foreign dominance,” notes

The selected works, highlighting the artists’ contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters, comprise four films, two theater productions and three concerts featuring some of the University’s renowned performing groups.

Film. The films are Conde’s “Señorito” (1953) and “Genghis Khan” (1950); and Avellana’s “Badjao” (1957) and “Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” (1965).

In “Señorito,” a father hires a woman to pose as a rich person and use her charms to change his son’s wild ways. While the ruse succeeds, the two fall in love, which is against the father’s rules.  Meanwhile, “Genhis Khan” narrates how Temujin builds an army and conquers many lands to earn the title Genhis Kahn, meaning “king without peer,” but becomes enslaved by his love for his opponent’s daughter.

Acknowledged as the “first intelligent movie to depict a minority group’s traditional customs,” Avellana’s “Badjao” tells how two warring groups, the Badjao and the Moros, come to a conciliation to achieve a peace pact, using the perspective of a newly-married Badjao chief and a Moro lowlander trying to make their marriage work amid pressure from both groups.

On the other hand, “Portrait” is based on what is considered the “most important Filipino play in English” by Nick Joaquin, another National Artist for Literature. Set in 1941 in Intramuros, it is the story of the Marasigan sisters and their father and their efforts to overcome financial setbacks amidst changing cultures and identities brought by new Western ideals.

Conde’s films will be screened at the Dap-ay of the College of Mass Communication at 7 p.m. on Feb 3 and 4, respectively. Avellana’s films will be at the College of Architecture auditorium at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10 and 11, respectively. All films are free and open to the public.

Theater. Montano’s “The Ladies and the Senator” and Gonzalez’s “The Bread of Salt” (1958) will also be staged.

A comedy, Montano’s work relates the visit of Senator Anthony Maripal to the United States, where he is feted by the Filipino Women’s Club of Washington DC, unaware that the ladies had planned to can rob him of the money he has stolen from the Filipino people. Tess Jamias directs the play and stars Kat Castillo, Natasha Cabrera, Krystle Valentino and other UPD alumni.  Playdates are on Feb. 16 and 17 with shows at 3 and 7 p.m. at the University Theater. Tickets are at P150 and are available at the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (OICA).

Meanwhile, Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas mounts a puppet play on Gonzalez’s short story of a 14 year-old boy infatuated with the niece of a rich plantation owner.  Directed by Amihan B. Ramolete with puppets designed by Sig Pecho, the puppet play is slated for Feb. 24, at 3 and 7 p.m. at the Bulwagan ng Dangal. Tickets are available at OICA for p150.

Concerts. Three performing groups will take the spotlight: the UP Dance Company (UPDC), the UP Varsity Pep Squad (Pep) and the UP Cherubim and Seraphim (UPCS).

On Feb. 13, the Pep presents “Utak at Puso: The UP Varsity Pep Squad Honors the National Artists” at 3 and 7 p.m. at the UP Theater. The concert features the Pep’s winning routines in various competitions locally and abroad.

“Wanderer in the Night of the World,” a compilation of Gonzalez’s poems published by the University Press in 2015, is the inspiration behind the dance concert by the UPDC, to be staged on Feb.22 at the University Theater stage at 4 and 7:30 p.m. The concert is directed by Angela Lawenko-Baguilat.

On Feb, 19, the UPCS performs “Konsyerto: Bawat Bata, Artista” at 3 and 7 p.m. at the UP Theater stage. The concert features music by Lucio San Pedro and Ramon Santos, both declared as National Artists for Music.

Concert tickets are at P150, P200 and P200, respectively, and are available at OICA.

A season pass for all ticketed events is at P600 and is available at OICA at  and or call 981-8500 local 2659.

Other events. In addition, art scholars and practitioners have been invited to open and enlarge conversations on the lives and the contributions of the chosen artists on contemporary Filipino society in “Usapang Pambansang Alagad ng Sining” at Pulungang Recto at 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday in February for Conde, Avellana, Montano and Gonzalez, respectively.

The lectures are free and open the public.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts will also launch the NVM Gonzalez special commemorative stamp at the UP Theater Lobby at 2 p.m. on Feb. 22.

The public is also invited to Bodabil sa Kampus, the festival’s opening ceremonies featuring Ms. Bituin Escalante, Natasha Cabrera, the UP Dancesport Society and the UP Jazz Ensemble. Living National Artists will also be honored at the event, which will be held on Feb. 1, 6 p.m. at the University Amphitheater. The highlight of the ceremony will be the unveiling of billboard artworks installed around the campus dedicated to Conde, Avellana, Montano and Gonzalez.

“Gabi ng Luwahati” will close the festivities on Feb. 26, 7 p.m. at the University Theater. The event is a reimagined bodabil in the contemporary times, featuring Virgilio Almario, National Artist for Literature and  Juan Miguel Severo, PJ Rebullida, JM Cabling, Al Garcia and Jeffrey Hidalgo.

National Artist. The rank and title of National Artist is conferred to a Filipino citizen through a Presidential Proclamation in recognition of his or her significant contributions in the fields of Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts and Architecture and Allied Arts.

Avellana (Feb. 12, 1915 – Apr. 25, 1991), known as “The Boy Wonder of Philippine Movies,” “was the first to use the motion picture camera to establish a point of view, a move that revolutionized the techniques of film narration,” notes the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. He received the Grand Prix at the Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong for his film “Anak Dalita” in 1957 and in 1954, was the first Filipino to have his film (Kandelerong Pilak) shown at the Cannes International Film Festival.

Born Manuel Urbano, Conde (Oct. 9, 1915 – Aug.11, 1985) was an actor, director and producer. He put up his own movie company, Manuel Conde Pictures in 1947 to direct and produce age-old Filipino stories that depict the distinct cultural history of the Philippines such as “Ibong Adarna” and “Prinsipe Tenoso” both in 1941, notes the Commission.

Montano (Jan. 3, 1915 – Dec. 12, 1980) was a playwright, actor and theater organizer. He organized Arena Theater in 1952 at the Philippine Normal College, institutionalizing ‘legitimate theater’ in the Philippines. He also trained and directed the new generation of dramatists such as Rolando S. Tinio, Emmanuel Borlaza, Joonee Gamboa and Behn Cervantes.

Gonzalez (September 8, 1915 – November 28, 1999) articulated the Filipino spirit in rural, urban landscapes.  He was UP’s International-Writer-In-Residence in 1988 and a member of the Board of Advisers of the UP Creative Writing Center.  His major works include “The Winds of April,” “Seven Hills Away” and “Children of the Ash-Covered Loam and Other Stories.”  A UP faculty member for 18 years, Gonzalez was one of two people to teach at UP without holding a degree.  In 1987, UP conferred on him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

The full calendar of events is at the UP Diliman website at Full details on specific events are at the OICA website at

Event photos

The Celluloid Campus Exhibit Opening

“UPD in celluloid: An exhibit on movies with UPD as film location”

(June 24)—Tall cogon grass covering Diliman’s expanse, young acacia trees hardly noticeable along the Academic Oval, the dusty and dirt road that is the University Avenue and massive colonnaded buildings standing few and far between: this was how UP Diliman (UPD) looked in its early years, images that present occupants can only get to see in pages of old yearbooks.

Now, UPD has the rare privilege of seeing how the campus evolved since UP’s transfer from Manila in 1949 through the exhibit The Celluloid Campus: The University of the Philippines in the Cinematic Imagination at the University Theater Lobby.

The exhibit features eight stills from vintage Filipino movies, 16 photos of UPD buildings from the 1940s to the 1960s and an aerial photo of UPD in the 1960s—all reproduced in large scale.  Also featured are footages of 23 Filipino movies from the 1950s to early 2000 which were shot on location in UPD and the movie Charito, I Love You (1957), a musical romance set in UP starring then film luminaries Charito Solis and Leroy Salvador.

The exhibit is under the curatorship of Campus Architect Dr. Gerard Rey A. Lico, a professor of architecture and head of the National Committee on Architecture and Allied Arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Launched on June 18 to cap the 105th UP anniversary celebration in UPD, the exhibit was an Office of the Chancellor offering through the UPD Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (OICA).

Lico said filming on campus began in the early 1950s “when the campus was newly formed out of a pastoral landscape destined to catalyze Manila’s urban expansion after the Pacific War.”

“Diliman’s campus architecture championed the modernist capacity to facilitate a new social order in the aftermath of war by embracing a new aesthetics—the utilization of reinforced concrete, steel, glass, the predominance of cubic forms, geometric shapes, Cartesian grids, and absence of applied decoration—divorced from colonial reference,” he said.

The campus’ architecture even attracted filmmakers of period or epic dramas.  One example was the filmPagsilang ng Mesiyas (1952), where the basement of Quezon Hall doubled for the film’s nativity scene.

The partnership of Filipino cinema and UP flourished when the Diliman campus’ architecture figured prominently in the “collegiate romance” movies of the 1950s and 1960s.

UP was always visualized by film studios like LVN and Sampaguita as a “picturesque campus of stately colonnaded modernist buildings set amidst a green open space with small trees; coeds, books in arm escorted by young men vying for their attention,” Lico said.

Movies of the era featured Philippine icons like Rogelio dela Rosa and Nida Blanca (Babaeng Hampaslupa, 1952), Carmen Rosales and Ric Rodrigo (ROTC, 1955), Nestor de Villa and Delia Razon (Dalagang Taring, 1955), to name a few.

Celluloid Campus likewise features clips of movies shot within UPD dating back to as early as 1952 (Armando Goyena and Tessie Quintana’s Tiya Loleng) to as late as 2008 (Kambyo, a film dealing with homosexuality).

Lico said UP as an imagined space in films possesses its “own materiality symbolic of academic excellence, social commitment and personal sacrifice.”

“Such awe-inspiring beauty and functional elegance plays essential roles in the creation of a distinct sense of place, a milieu that hones the minds, shapes, values and nourishes the critical spirit and creative imagination.  Truly, Diliman’s spirit of place projected in the cinema will always be cherished in the hearts and minds of those who once passed through its halls and broad avenues,” he said.

The exhibit likewise fosters OICA’s theme of pride of place.

OICA Director Prof. José Danilo A. Silvestre explained pride of place “can only emerge in places where there is a strong bond between people and setting.”

Pride of place is a concept by the UPDOICA Board at the term of immediate past OICA acting director Rubén D.F. Defeo.

Meanwhile, Silvestre said he hopes in the future, students would “pick up the theme and somehow translate into projects which they themselves would feel is embodying their understanding of what constitutes pride of place in UP.”

At the exhibit were UPD Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs José Wendell Capili, UP Press Director J. Neil Garcia, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ronald Banzon, UPDIO director Maureen Anne Araneta, University Registrar Evangeline Amor, Diliman Interactive Learning Center director Peter Sy, members of the OICA Board, Professor Defeo, and other Diliman and UP System officials.

Special performances were rendered at the exhibit opening by the UP Concert Chorus, fresh from their successful stint at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia and the UP Dance Company.

The Celluloid Campus: The University of the Philippines in the Cinematic Imagination runs until July 31 and is open for public viewing Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University Theater Lobby.—MDJ (Source:  MDJ – UPD in celluloid: an exhibit on movies with UPD as film location)


See event photos here.

Related links:

1)  “The Celluloid Campus:  The University of the Philippines in the Cinematic Imagination” by Gerard Rey Lico
2) “UP in Black and White” by Eva Angeline Trinidad
Event photos

105th Foundation Day of UP Diliman

(June 18)—UP Diliman marked UP’s founding today with a special flag-raising ceremony this morning at the Quezon Hall.

UP President Alfredo E. Pascual and UPD Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma led the UP System and Diliman officials and university constituents present, in honoring the Philippine flag and UP colors.  The UP Rayadillo and Honor Guards hoisted the flags while the UP ROTC Symphonic Band ,under the baton of Prof. Rodney Ambat, played Lupang Hinirang and UP Naming Mahal.

This was followed by inspirational messages from both Chancellor Saloma and UP President Pascual and special performances from tenor Conrado “Dondi” Calnea Ong III and soprano Geraldine “Fame” Flores thereafter.

Ong and Flores had a duet of Francisco Santiago and Ildefonso Santos’s “Pilipinas Kong Mahal” and Ernani Cuenco and Levi Celerio’s “Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal.”

The ceremony was capped by a simple breakfast of rolls and kakanin, coffee and juice at the Quezon Hall Lobby.

The “105th UP Foundation Day” at the Oblation Plaza was an event organized by the UPD Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts for the Office of the Chancellor-UP Diliman.  Ms. Bianca Tallafer was master of ceremonies.

The flag raising ceremony at Quezon Hall is just one of the events to commemorate UP’s 105th anniversary; other constituent units have lined up their own activities for UP’s birthday.  At UPD, Campus Architect Gerard Rey A. Lico’s exhibit presentation and short film screening entitled The Celluloid Campus: The University of the Philippines in the Cinematic Imagination will be launched tonight at 6 p.m. at the University Theater Lobby.

UP was established on June 18, 1908 through Act No. 1870 of the Philippine Assembly.  On April 29, 1998, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law the UP Charter of 2008 (Republic Act No. 9500) declaring UP as the country’s “national university.”—MDJ (Source:  MDJ – UPD opens UP’s 105th with special flag-raising ceremony)

Event photos

“Dostoyevsky’s” new home at the BnD

(March 15)–The bust of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky was formally unveiled and turned over to UP Diliman (UPD) in a simple ceremony on March 12, 6 p.m. at the Bulwagan ng Dangal (BnD).

The bust is a creation of Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky, who is known for his gallery of bronze portraits of outstanding contemporary figures. The bust is made of bronze and has a dimension of 47.5×25.5×29 cm.