What is or was your favorite place to hang out in UP (whether your own campus or elsewhere) and why?
On your campus, what place would you recommend for your visitors to see or to experience, and why?
What kind of place, facility or service would you like to see (or see more of) in your campus?
My favorite hangout while an undergrad student in UP Diliman was in our org’s tambayan, the UP Journalism Club (UPJC) in the College of Mass Communication. The tambayan served as a refuge for a naive freshman like me who was transitioning to a UP culture. Coming from the province, my adjustment was as hard as my effort to speak the Tagalog way. Adding up to my language anxiety were my doubts over my intellectual capacity when compared to those of my classmates in GE classes from Pisay (Philippine Science High Schools) which for me was “above sea level.”
Like a migrant to a new place seeking a better life, I needed to cope with the demands of UP life to stay longer and finish on time. Surviving would have been more difficult without a support group in the form of an organization whose members shared the same goals and interests. I felt that my adjustment became smoother when I met and converged with people with whom I shared my joy and fears.
In the UPJC’s tambayan, we would vent our frustrations over the flood of red ink in our Journ 101 papers under Prof. Rachel Khan. We would run to and relieve ourselves in the tambayan after our tiptoeing and overwhelming silence in the class of Dean Luis Teodoro. The tambayan was the venue for our cutesy discourse on issues about women after attending the Women’s Studies Center class of Dr. Albina Fernandez. It was also in our tambayan where we expressed our collective kilig over our long-haired Film 100 professor, Dr. Roland Tolentino.
Subsumed under the UP culture was the unique “subculture” we constructed and reconstructed through our constant interactions with one another. This org culture would be modified when a new generation of members came in to construct their own culture out of their unique experience and identity as a batch. This formation of a unique subculture among journalism majors took place because UP recognized the need of its students to congregate and be in contact with one another.
Through our undergraduate years, our constant congregations and exchanges of ideas grounded in our tambayan were very meaningful to us, so much so that we feel nostalgic when reminded by this vivid image of the past.
For our visitors, I will show them one testament of Cebu’s vibrant creative culture: UP Cebu’s Jose Joya Little Art Gallery and Fablab.
The Jose Joya Little Art Gallery in UP Cebu is accessible through a leisurely walk through the College of Communication, Art, and Design (CCAD) office and classrooms. It was named after National Artist Jose Joya who helped the institution of a Fine Arts program in UP Cebu. Every day, I see beauty in all forms on the college walls: canvases bursting with colors, images textured in pain, human follies captured in mixed media. Unveiled in August 2016, the gallery had long been the venue of Fine Arts students and professors for their artworks where conversations from the artistic process to audience reception and to a more serious one about art’s place and role in our culture is a common affair. A conversation like this is a rarity in the larger public sphere where K-Pop craze and DIY eyebrow trimming are common staples. Such a phenomenon can be explained by our lack of public art spaces, so that the youth, no matter how remote and far their place is to the center or even if they are not in museums and the academe, can hang out with and access their friends’ narratives of our culture through different forms of artistic expression.
As the UP Cebu gallery is part of the school’s environment, students, teachers and employees have lived with it, and created and shared the meaning of its content. This place has undoubtedly created a dynamic art culture in UP Cebu since the founding of its program in 1975.
A few steps from the gallery is the UP Cebu Fablab (fabrication laboratory) which has also done its part in strengthening the creative culture not only in the school but also in Cebu’s creative industries. This is an urgent response to the need of creative people for a space to incubate their ideas and to mingle and learn with the like-minded.
UP Cebu Fablab is an incubator-like, technology-based laboratory which is open to design students, entrepreneurs, and innovators in the Cebu community who want to transform their ideas into concrete forms through advanced prototyping using 3D printers, laser cutters, printers and cutters, and milling machines among others.
Cebu, named as the country’s creative capital by the British Council, needs to sustain and keep the creative tradition going by supporting the conditions necessary for its stability. Through the fablab, designers are able to exercise their creative prowess, which ultimately will give them a sense of purpose and achieve their potential.
In a highly technological world in which human skills and labor have slowly been taken over by machines, we need to think of what will be left of us humans when technology becomes dominant in our lives. Creativity keeps the human soul whole. I believe that we must cultivate, and institutionalize creativity as it is the very source of our humanity.
UP, being a dynamic institution upholding the culture of service, must respond proactively to external forces, not only those in relation to economic, social, cultural challenges, but also to environmental ones. A number of universities abroad have long started building low carbon emission structures, redesigning the old ones to minimize their carbon impact and energy use, making more green spaces, trying out urban gardening, revising their academic curricula to integrate sustainability in teaching and actively involving themselves in sustainable development campaigns. While we have long known that climate change is real and that we are one of the countries identified as most vulnerable to it, we must remain calm but not keep on doing things in the same “business as usual” way. In building projects for example, solar-paneled roofs, two-way water filtration systems, rain catchment tanks and cisterns, more window openings and other eco-efficiency indicators do not appear in our blueprints. It seems that this urgent concern has not been recognized as a collective one, thus relegating it to environment science programs to do the worrying for us. As a government institution, we have not yet created a caring culture for the very life support system that sustains us: our planet.
The relevance of a culture to the community that created it lies in its responsiveness to the challenges of time. Culture is not static. It undergoes transformation as it responds to the need of the times. As the call for ‘change of mindset’ on resource consumption and production is most pressing, UP has to respond by developing sustainable infrastructure and greening not only its spaces but also its policies and academic curricula.
It would be a beautiful experience then to walk through the gallery of artworks and see prototypes of creative ideas in the incubation lab knowing that the infrastructure holding them is one that is eco-efficient.