20 in 20: the UP Diliman Month through the years

By Chi A. Ibay, images by Leonardo A. Reyes

The celebrations began in February 1995 as UP Diliman Week (UPDW). In 1999, the festivity was expanded to a month showcasing UPD’s outstanding achievements in the various disciplines.

Twenty years down the road, UPDate takes a look back at its beginnings, its evolution and influences, choosing 20 highlights of the 2-decade tradition.

The first UPDW happened from February 13 to 17 in 1995, initiated by UPD Chancellor Roger Posadas through Memorandum No. 94-202 on Dec. 5, 1994 to “showcase our cornucopia of research and creative works and recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students.”

“The first UPDW is an opportunity for all of us to project and celebrate UPD as the national center for excellence as well as a national treasure trove of world-class artistic talents,” said Posadas, who was chancellor from 1993 to 1996.

The Arts Hub in 2007.
The Arts Hub in 2007.

The UP Diliman Exposition was UPDW’s centerpiece. It featured entries to a competition seeking the best inventions, innovations, published research and creative works. It also showcased exhibits by the various colleges and offices at UPD.

The UPD Festival of Performing Arts was also an integral component of UPDW, where “world-class talents of various performing artists in music, dance, theater and poetry will be showcased in order to celebrate UPD as the country’s foremost center for the performing arts,” the memo noted.

Capping the week was the Chancellor’s Awards for Most Outstanding Performance of the following: Teachers, Researchers, Extension Workers, Administrators, Artists, Supervisors, Administrative Personnel, Research, Extension and Professional Staff (REPS), Policemen, Students, Student Organizations, Athletes, Units and ‘Pooks’ (Community). Fifty-two awards were given at the first UPDW.

The Chancellor’s Awards evolved into the Gawad Chanselor, which had been an integral part of the February celebrations, except in 1998, when it was awarded in November.

In 2015, the Gawad Chanselor will be awarded in May.

For the first UPDW, UP Diliman UPDATE, the “Official Flagship Campus Newsletter,” covered the events and was published daily by the College of Mass Communication for the Office of the Chancellor (OC).

UPDATE continued the daily coverage in the second UPDW in 1996.

Student activism and UP as “a sanctuary of academic freedom, bastion of student activism and defender of human rights” was the centerpiece of the second UPDW in 1996. The celebrations coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Diliman Commune.

To commemorate the historic event, a marker was unveiled,located along the University Avenue, some 20 meters from where the barricade was set up 25 years ago.

The Diliman Commune was “when UPD constituents barricaded themselves inside the campus and established the ‘Republic of Diliman’ as they pressed such issues as human rights, academic freedom and freedom of speech and expression,” reported the Feb. 17, 1996 UPDATE.

The national government, in 1999, proclaimed February as National Arts Month.

Dr. Claro T. Llaguno, who was UPD Chancellor from1996 to 1999, proclaimed February as UP Diliman Arts and Culture Month (UPDM) through Administrative Order(AO) 22-01 on Jan. 14, 1999.

“UP Diliman will henceforth hold a month-long instead of a week-long celebration, featuring exemplary works and productions of UPD-based artists and cultural workers in music, dance, film, theater, sculpture, literature, graphic arts, architecture and interior design, ” the AO said.

At the same time, the Board of Regents approved the creation of the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (OICA) to function as UPD’s policy-making body on art and cultural development and management at its 1128th meeting on Jan. 28.

Henceforth, OICA was at the helm of and coordinated campus-wide activities for the succeeding UPD months, said Dr. Eufracio Abaya, the first OICA director, and Prof. Ruben D. F. Defeo, who succeeded Abaya in 2005.

Hitik sa Sining was the theme of UPD’s first month-long celebration, as conceptualized and coordinated by OICA. Abaya said the theme was to “sustain our sense of community, our policy of democratization of cultural expression, where all members of the community are given space to express their mission and visions in life.”

Three activities during the first UPDM stood out. The first was Punong-Puno ng Sining, a site art dressing up the acacia trees around the Academic Oval into the eight major art forms of painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, literature, film, music and theater. Conceptualized by faculty members of the College of Fine Arts, the work was very well received by both UPD constituents and the national media; however, its run was cut short by two weeks because the props and buntings adorning the trees were vandalized.

Another noteworthy activity was the debut of ,Himig-Sikan sa Lagun, the Friday afternoon concert series that has become a staple in succeeding UPDM ,celebrations. Himig-Sikan has since been moved to Sunday afternoons to accommodate on-campus residents and weekend campus visitors.

The Chinese Students Association joined the first UPDM and continued to treat the campus thereafter to Chinese New Year festivities, through a dragon dance, martial arts exhibition and fireworks display each year.

In 2007, OICA inaugurated a new performance venue, the Arts Hub, located in the quadrangle in front of the Carillon. It was managed by OICA.

“The Arts Hub is the initial step towards developing an integrated University Arts Complex that will serve as the venue to foreground UPD as a visual, performing and literary arts hub,” the January-March 2007 UPdate reported.

Komedya ng San Miguel of Iligan City.
Komedya ng San Miguel of Iligan City.

In 2008, UP celebrated its centennial. Befitting the historic occasion, UPD mounted the First National Komedya Festival, a monthlong event “which sought to create awareness and increase the understanding of and appreciation for the Komedya,” noted the Komedya Fiesta 2008 souvenir program.

A brainchild of National Artist for Literature and College of Arts and Letters (CAL) dean Dr. Virgilio S. Almario, the festival was organized by the OC, CAL and OICA in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the support of the Office of Senator Edgardo J. Angara, the Office of Quezon City Mayor Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr. and the Department of Tourism.

The festival included a colloquium, conference and workshop with discussions centered on the strengths, weaknesses of the groups and their recommendations for the future of komedya on a national scale. “The centerpiece was the series of Komedya performances held during the five Fridays of February, staged by five regional performing groups representing Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the National Capital Region,” UPdate reported.

These performing groups were: Komedya ng San Diosisio, Parañaque City; Komedya ng San Miguel, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte; Hiraya Theater Company, San Jose, Antique; Komedya ng Don Galo, Don Galo, Parañaque City; Dulaang UP and Komedya de Baler, Baler, Aurora.

Sustaining the Komedya’s impetus, UPD mounted a Sarswela Festival in the succeeding year, comprising exhibits, a national conference, tertulia and film screenings toinform and encourage a deeper appreciation of the Sarsuwela, “one of the more popular theater forms that flourished during the 19th century and towards the end of the Spanish colonization and the beginning of the American occupation,” the January-March 2009 UPDate reported.

Five sarswelas formedthe heart of the festivities, namely: Paglipas ng Dilim (ca. 1920) by the University of the East Drama Company;Walang Sugat (ca. 1902) by the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc.; Sa Bunganga ng Pating (ca. 1921), Far Eastern University Art Theater Clinique; Ang Kiri (ca. 1926), Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas; and Iloilo Sarswela: Padayon ng Istorya, UP Visayas Alumni Theater Company.

The festival was again mounted for the OC by CAL and OICA with support fromthe Office of Senator Edgardo J. Angara and the NCCA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *