UP, Ang Galing Mo!

Date posted on January 8, 2008
Of my few accomplishments in life, I count being an iskoin the University of the Philippines among those I am unapologetically proud of. However trivial it may sound, I consider passing the UPCAT, surviving life in its Diliman campus, and ultimately obtaining my degree from UP as accomplishments. That’s why I was excited to be at the country’s premiere state university yesternight for the kick-off celebration of UP’s centennial.

I arrived a little past 6PM, with the academic oval clad in darkness, save for the makeshift stage set up in front of the Oblation shrine. Despite that, the atmosphere was thick with excitement, with every corner busting at the seams with people both young and old. I suspect, every one of them a proud Iskolar ng Bayan.

As I made my way to where the centennial cauldron was, I bumped into Thess and Trisha, friends I made during my short stint with Dulaang UP. While sitting on the gutter waiting for the program to start, we noticed a cluster of torches inching its way to the Quezon Hall at the left side of the acad oval, in front of the College of Music. Apparently, I got there just in time for the lighting of thecauldron. Within minutes, the torch bearers were marching in front of us, supposedly led by Fernando Javier, who at 100 is the oldest known UP Alumnus. We kept suspecting every gray-haired grandpa as Mr. Javier. Today’s paper confirmed that I actually managed to take a picture of him 🙂 (He’s the oldest looking bloke near the torch in the picture below.) He was accompanied by other luminaries. I managed to get a glimpse of Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, fellow Asser Direk Maryo J. de los Reyes, and Richard Gomez. President Emerlinda Roman, the 100th torch bearer and first female president of the UP system, delivered a brief welcome and proceeded to the lighting the cauldron. The university suddenly lit up and the crowd broke into wild cheers. Trees along the acad oval were decorated with lights, as if Christmas has been extended. Then, the jubilation smoothly segued to the singing of the UP Naming Mahal. I sang along, glad to realize that I haven’t forgotten the words. And after throwing our fists up in honor of our Alma Mater, the UP Pep Squad performed in the midst of the throng.

I lost Thess and Tricia in the frenzy, but at least it allowed me to take more pictures of the momentous event. Soon after, I finally met up with my date for the evening. Olive found me waiting right beside the centennial cauldron, ruining most people’s pictures by refusing to leave my spot 🙂

Afterwards, we joined the hundreds of people in watching the free show at the ampitheatre behind Quezon Hall, where the university graduation is yearly held. Choral groups from different UP units performed. Even Ryan Cayabyab sang a composition entitled “Salamat Sa ‘Yo UP,” which he penned with another UPIS alum. Ultimately, though, I think most of the spectators were really waiting to see for more routines from the UP Pep Squad, and they did not disappoint. There was another heartfelt singing of the UP Naming Mahal, and then the evening culminated with a spectacular fireworks display which felt like it would go on forever.

Sabi ng ang friend ko, I was on a high daw that evening. I couldn’t help it. Celebrating with all that pomp and being surrounded with all that greatness… not since my graduation did UP’s imprint on me feel that tangible. How can one not be in awe of the glorious legacy of UP? What more if you are actually part of it? 🙂

Mabuhay ang UP!

UP, Ang Galing Mo!


(Click on the pictures for the full resolution, especially for the fireworks 🙂 I uploaded the rest of the photos in my Multiply site.)