The Other Side of U. P.

The University of the Philippines (U. P.) is known for academic excellence. It is also associated with student activism or simply activism because some members of the faculty are also vocal and are actively engaged in their advocacies.

But U.P. has another side. A side which doesn’t reach the front pages of newspapers.

The University of the Philippines’ Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in Diliman campaigned for 500 roses for the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. 5,000 roses arrived, or 5,056 to be exact . I learned about this from one of my Viber groups. I wanted to check the figures so I searched, there were no news reports that popped up but I found the figures in the Facebook page of the parish church.

It’s also a show of engagement in advocacies but not with the usual radical slant.

Previous to this, the UP community campaigned for the restoration of the church among it’s alumni.

The UP Chapel was opened in 1955 and was designated as World Heritage Site on january 12, 2005. It is considered an important architectural landmark due to its unique and timeless design as it is the first circular chapel in the country with the altar in its center for a more personal and engaging community worship experience. It is also the first structure in the country to feature a remarkable thin-shell concrete dome, made possible through Engr. Consunji, acknowledged as the grandfather of construction in the Philippines and the founder of the DMCI Group.

From GMA Network report, the DMCI Group undertook the restoration . In a press release, it said the UP Chapel was restored after a series of consultations with UP officials in an effort to bring back the 65-year old cultural treasure’s original state of beauty.

Before the end of 2020, the following repairs were done in the chapel: repair of masonry cracks, de-clogging of downspouts and drains, installation of new electrical fixtures and exterior repainting on the chapel’s iconic dome and roof as well as its walls, columns, eaves, under slabs, ceilings, and railings.

From GMANetwork.com

The murals depicting the Stations of the Cross, the marble altar, the floor mural, and the cross at the center of the chapel — all handiworks of national artists — were left untouched during the rehabilitation. (The murals of the Stations of the Cross are painted on the walls as can be seen from the picture above).

It is the only structure in the country to feature the works of five national artists:

  • Arturo Luz designed the floor mural, titled the “River of Life”, executed in terazzo and radiating from the altar
  • Napoleon Abueva created the giant wooden double-sided crucifix and the altar base
  • Vicente Manansala and Ang Kiukok painted the 15 murals of the Stations of the Cross
  • Leandro Locsin designed the chapel structure

These five men—Locsin, Luz, Abueva, Manansala, and Kiukok—were later on named National Artists of the Philippines, making the UP Chapel the only structure in the country to feature the works of five National Artists. With its unique and timeless architectural design, the UP Chapel has been recognized as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and a Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.

Indeed the Church of the Holy Sacrifice deserves to be recognized for its valuable works of art. But most of all, for me, it’s a welcoming and comforting sanctuary. It has no doors and is always open for anyone. I was awed when I first entered it as a freshman in UP, I still feel the same sense of awe and peace every time I revisit.

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