There’s More Fun in UP Mindanao

| Written by Celeste Ann Castillo Llaneta

Compared to other UP constituent universities, UP Mindanao is relatively young, but the members of the UP Mindanao Community have already created their own traditions and events that blend elements of Mindanaoan culture. Many of the traditional annual events are organized by the UP Mindanao University Student Council (USC) and student organizations, with the support of the Office of Student Affairs.

The University Convocation is organized by the administration and held at the Atrium during the first day of class, where the whole UP Mindanao community gathers to welcome freshmen, introduce the members of the administration, heads of colleges, faculty, staff and students. Student council officials are also sworn into office by the Chancellor.

Torch Night is usually held some weeks after the formal opening of classes. The upperclassmen, represented by the block leaders of the earlier freshmen batch, pass on a lit torch symbolizing responsibility and privilege as iskolar ng bayan to the current freshmen batch, represented by the freshmen block leaders of each degree program. The freshmen then pledge their oath of loyalty and responsibility to the university and their fellow students. This is accompanied by a competition of group presentations among freshmen.

Another yearly event is Freshmen Night, usually held a month after Torch Night, and which includes a dance competition and a pageant to search for the Ultimate UPMin Isko and Iska. The Freshmen Torch Night combines the symbolic passing on of degree presentation torches of Torch Night and the pageantry of Freshmen Night.

Dula, which means “play” in Cebuano, is a university-wide sportsfest usually held in the middle of the first semester, after the college-based sportsfests—Dula-dula for the College of Science and Mathematics and School of Management, and the Hampang for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Highlight of the sportsfest is the Cheerdance Competition, which draws attention from the media and from other universities.


Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao
Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao


Deviance Day, a celebration of UP Mindanao’s diversity of culture and ethnicity, began as a free concert hosted by the BA Social Sciences and BA Anthropology programs. Today, Deviance Day is organized by the Department of Social Sciences, CHSS, and the Dalub-aral na may Ugnayan, Galing at Organisadong Ningas na Ginagabayan ng Antropolohiya (DUGONG-ANTRO). For the entire day, participating students, faculty and staff dress up in “not-so-everyday” attire—some donning costumes representing characters from popular culture, some coming in formal attire or cross-dressing, or for the brave few, barely dressing at all. In the evening, a program featuring talent shows, presentations of best-dressed people during the day, and free concerts featuring bands in UP Mindanao would be held.

The highlight of the Christmas season in UP Mindanao is Kasadya, a Cebuano word meaning “joy” or “happiness.” The Kasadya celebration begins in December with the official lighting of the University Christmas Tree, constructed with lanterns from different student organizations. It also features the UPMin lantern parade and Pasiklaban, a skit contest for students and alumni sponsored by the UP Alumni Association-Davao.

February is an especially eventful time as UP Mindanao commemorates its foundation as a constituent university. In addition, the CHSS and CSM celebrate their foundation weeks during this month with their own events, such as the Pasundayag, an annual pageant featuring the tribes and costumes of Mindanao indigenous peoples, organized by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student Council.


Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao
Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao


Specific degree programs and student orgs also hold their own events, such as the BA Communication Arts program and Communicators’ Guild, and CSM Night organized by the CSM Student Council. The residents of the Elias B. Lopez Hall also celebrate their Dorm Week during February with workshops, talk shows, quiz bees, the Open House, competitions for the cleanest and best-decorated rooms, and the popular Mistress of the Dorm beauty pageant wherein cross-dressing male dormers compete for the title.

Tatak UPMin is also another gender-bending beauty pageant featuring cross-dressing male and female students from the different student orgs, as well as a Battle of the Bands. The UPMin alumni also join the festivities with their annual alumni homecoming dubbed Panagtagbo, which means “gathering” in Cebuano, and features dance concerts and musical presentations by Alagad ni Oble, one of the first musical bands established in UP Mindanao.

The UPMin alumni also hold “Bayanihan Para Kay Oble,” introduced by the UP Alumni Association Davao (UPAA Davao) as a “beautification” activity for the Oblation Plaza and as a venue for fellowship among the alumni.

In terms of arts, music and sports, the UP Mindanao Siki ni Obli student organization has been holding the Oscar Mora Cup, an annual ladies football invitational tournament, for the last 18 years. On the other hand, the UP Mindanao Dance Ensemble, the university’s resident dance company, holds its annual full-length dance-concert on the themes of “Kilos-Pinoy,” “Daloy,” “Galaw-Indak-Sayaw,” while the UP Mindanao Koro Kantahanay, the resident chorale, holds its annual concert “Overture”. Both events used to be held in February, but were moved to other months following the academic calendar shift.

“Sinews for Syllables” is an annual performance of literary works by BA English students, where the works are read in excerpt, or performed in conjunction with dance, song, and cinematic art, while “Lit-Orgy” are readings of literary works that originated with BA English students but have moved to venues outside the University.

Finally, festivities in UP Mindanao are not held by the UPMin community just for the UPMin community, but for high school students as well. A number of student organizations organize events directed toward high schools as the students’ contribution in promoting UP Mindanao to prospective students:

The Inter-High School Statistics Quiz Bowl, organized by the Society of Math Majors, is held once a semester, participated in by students from private and public schools. “Math Mania” inter-high school competition has been undertaken by Society of Math Majors annually for more than ten years.


Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao
Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao


The Dugo Mo Buhay Ko annual bloodletting is organized by OSA every February in partnership with the Philippine National Red Cross. Donors are students, employees, and nearby constituents of government agencies.

Tagbo is a two-day leadership training camp organized annually by the OSA for leaders of student organizations and upholds the principles of “servant-leadership.” This was started about eight years ago with the help of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress.

Speak UP is an annual regional speech competition for high schools in the Davao region. It is organized by Communicators Guild organization of BA Communication Arts students, and has branched out from solely oratorical and extemporaneous speaking to include radio script-writing. It has been held for more than ten years in Davao City and for the past five years has expanded its reach region-wide. “Tinukib”, on the other hand, is a design and scale-model workshop for high school students that has been held by the Architecture program and students for many years now.

Rockeumentary is an annual “battle of the bands” organized by the Kappa Epsilon student organization, originating ten years ago as a fund-raising event. It has expanded to include literary readings.


Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao
Photo by Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao


Is-Spell-Eng is a spelling contest organized by Omega Alpha student organization, also for high school students. It has been held annually for more than ten years.

Tagisan sa Agham Panlipunan is on its second city-wide hosting in 2017. It is organized by Dugong Anthro student organization for high schools in Davao City. It was also named UTUKAY (Patalinuhan).

For the past eight years, the USC has also been organizing UP Fiesta, an umbrella event held on the first week of the February anniversary celebration. It includes guided tours throughout the university for invited high school students, talent shows, and a market fair participated by several student organizations which lasts until the following week’s Orgs Fair, which is also another event where student organizations get to promote their activities to other students and organizations.

For graduating UPMin students, the Society of Agribusiness Economics holds INDORS (Industry Orientation Seminar) where industry personalities are invited to talk about their business organizations. The Department of Food Science also holds a similar event. Finally, the OSA also holds an annual Career Placement Orientation and Pre-Employment Seminar and Annual Jobs Fair for graduating students. It includes talks by alumni from different professions, sectors, and industries.

That’s a lot to do outside the classroom for a CU barely out of its teens by UP standards, but UP Mindanao is making it clear that it doesn’t have to wait at the back of the line to make fun things happen down in Davao.


With inputs from Rene Estremera, UP Mindanao Public Relations Officer. Email the author at