Sunday, January 10, 2010

U.P. Los Baños: Places and Events

This series of posts is not exhaustive nor comprehensive. I only desire to start the year by writing about something that I could say ‘close to heart’. It's the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Let me share at least seven of the things that one can find, admire, or experiences inside the university. Even a short walk inside the campus is enough to give you an idea of its rich history from its beginning as an agricultural college.

* the remaining part of the Old Humanities Building;
found in front of the College Post Office

Old Humanities
The university’s present Humanities Building (now officially called CAS Building) looks old already but it is not even the only Hum building that exists (or existed). The original Hum building used to be found at the back of the present Physical Science Building (PhySci or Pisay), just in front of the UPLB Post Office. But only a very small portion of the building remains. My guess is that it was probably destroyed during the Second World War.
* the fraternity men presenting themselves in front
of the Humanities Building during an Oblation Run

Oblation Run

An annual feature of UPLB Decembers, the Oblation Run, organized by the UPLB Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity, draws always a large crowd. Epitomizing the characters of Oblation, the runners commonly carry a message during this activity, usually about issues concerning the university.

* people often take a breather under the Fertility Tree
and the wide Freedom Park

Fertility Tree 
I am lucky enough to experience the 'heyday' of the Freedom Park, when it used to be enveloped in semi-darkness as night time falls. Right after sunset, couples would flock to the infamous Fertility Tree and enjoy the seeming protection of its canopy. Two confessions: 1) I did see a discarded condom at the foot of this tree and 2) I did see a couple do their 'thing' there.  Although cloaked in many myths of romance and eroticism, the Fertility Tree enriches the culture of the university as it participates in the tales that keep the minds of its visitors and inhabitants alike in a constant state of imagination.
* a view of the research fields of IRRI
in front of the Rice Museum

International Rice Research Institute
Rented from the University, the hectares of land occupied by the International Rice Research Institute or IRRI, which started its operation in 1960, gives a visitor an idea of what an international research facility looks like. I spent my on-the-job-training there, experienced meeting and conferring with people of different nationalities and scientific backgrounds, and listened to lectures of men on the front lines of rice science. The food is also good in their cafeteria. With the breath taking view of the research fields just outside and with a coffee mug in hand, I have spent many afternoons there. How I wish I could finally go to their coffee shop and pick one among the coffees being sold there. IRRI also has a rice museum which shows the diverse cultures and methods in producing and cultivating rice of different Asian countries.

* the UPLB Carillion Tower

Carillion Tower
The UPLB Carillion Tower is found just a few steps away from the Fertility Tree. The Tower was built during the administration of Fidel Ramos and its inauguration was greeted by protests from the students. The Tower is also site for many physics fairs, fireworks displays, and beautiful lightings and designs during the annual UPLB Loyalty Day.

* the UPLB Oblation

Oblation (Oble)
Although the university’s Oblation is a replica of the original, it is nevertheless a site to behold inside the campus. It has been placed in front of the present Humanities Building around 1983 and has been there ever since, showing off to the world his naked glory. But Oble could not escape the wrath of the student activists and it has been their focal point for sending out their protest messages (see image above).
*UPLB's Pegaraw

The Philippine Pegasus or Pegaraw stands just in front of the UPLB Main Library. It was created by Napoleon Abueva in commemoration of the 100th year of Philippine Revolution. The sculpture stands at 18 feet from its base.

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