UP’s relationship with archery is a story of hits and misses. And while that relationship ended for UP Diliman (UPD) eight years ago, no one has so far said it can’t be rekindled.
The first mention of archery as a physical education (PE) course and sport can be found in the University’s General Catalogue 1929-1930, under the PE Department in the Manila campus. It was one of ten PE courses female juniors and seniors could take if they didn’t have deficiencies in prior PE courses.
Back then, PE classes weren’t coed. Males and females had separate PE requirements and choices. But all UP students had to take four PE courses, with the first two being required. Participation in competitive sports including archery by upperclassmen as members of the intercollegiate, intramural, and/or varsity teams could also be “substituted for course work, provided that attendance [was] at least three times a week.”
Archery in PE
Soon after, archery disappeared from the General Catalogue. It was no longer listed in the 1932-1933 edition, although it could have been removed earlier.
Fast forward to 1967 when it made a comeback, albeit with limited accessibility. Archery and golf were the individual sports in an elective course in the training program leading to a certificate in PE. It was administered by the Institute of PE, which had just been established in the PE Department. It was to serve as a research and training center to upgrade the skills of teachers and coaches in the public and private schools.
In 1976, the department was elevated by the Board of Regents to a degree-granting unit and was renamed the Institute of Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation (SPEAR). Archery made its way back to the UP general education curriculum, just like in 1929. And this time, you didn’t have to be a female junior or senior to take it.
More than three decades later, in the second semester of Academic Year 2009-2010, UPD offered the PE class in archery for the last time.
“It had to be shelved because we couldn’t sustain it. Archery equipment is expensive and the maintenance of the Archery Range was also quite challenging,” explains College of Human Kinetics (CHK) Dean Ronualdo Dizer.
The range was, at one point, even chosen by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to be the competition venue for the Southeast Asian Games. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out and the 1991 games were never held in Diliman. But the PSC and UPD came to an agreement that same year allowing the Philippine team to use the range for training.
The last record of this agreement appears in the July-September 2004 issue of the UP Gazette. The BOR confirmed the extension of the contract on the National Archery Team’s use of the range until March 30, 2005. By 2011, the national team was reportedly training somewhere else. “It’s like we took back ‘ownership’ of the Archery Range,” said Dizer.
Archery as a varsity sport
From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, archery was a UPD varsity sport. That period covers the time SPEAR came to be until the UP Gym’s transfer to its present location from the Law Complex.
The CHK Varsity Office no longer has records on archery. Its history as a varsity sport in UPD can only be gleaned from a few publications, some records in the University Archives, and the recollections of UP personnel.
“I’m not sure what happened to our records when we transferred offices in 1984,” Josie Querimit says. She’s been with the Varsity Office since 1978. “We don’t have any documents on varsity archery here now.”
In Education through the Physical: The UP SPEAR Story, former Dean Celia Bocobo Olivar lists post-war “Sweater” awardees, where archers were recognized from 1977 to 1980. One of them was Jocelyn Guerrero, who competed in the 1977 SEA Games, archery’s first outing in the said event. She was celebrated as the country’s top female archer at the time, winning four gold medals and two bronzes. She finished the SEA Games as number one in the women’s division. The other Sweater awardees for archery were her siblings, Marinella, Margarita, and Arturo, along with Fermin Barrenechea.
In December 1982, then UP President Edgardo Angara wrote a letter to UP archery coach and father to the Guerrero archers, Arte Guerrero, congratulating him and the UPD men’s and women’s teams for their victory in the recently concluded national championships.
Earlier that year, Angara had even written to then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, informing him that in the last five years, UP “won three [University Athletic Association of the Philippines] general championships, including national and intercollegiate titles.” In his list of exemplary performances, only archery, baseball, and track and field won titles every year in that five-year period.
Querimit says it wasn’t long before the UPD archery varsity team ceased to exist. “Right around the time we transferred to this gym or maybe a little time before that, we didn’t have a coach anymore. The former varsity archers just focused on being members of the national team.”
Up in the air
Dizer can’t say for sure if archery is in UPD’s future, but he’s not discounting the possibility of a return—whether as a PE course, a varsity sport, or both. “If CHK had the funds to buy new equipment and the resources to sustain training, teaching, and groundskeeping, then maybe we can have archery again. It’s a sport that Filipinos can really excel in and could possibly bring us the Olympic gold.” He adds that there were proposals to include archery in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
Right now, the Archery Range serves as a venue for outdoor PE classes. There are some people, he says, who have asked to use it for personal archery training and basic introductory lessons for children, and that they would shoulder the expense of having the grounds cleared using tractors and heavy equipment.
“I told them that if we allowed them to do that, it would only be temporary because that area is part of the Sports Complex that UP is developing according to the CHK Land Use Plan. They could only use the range on weekends or on weekdays when there are no PE classes. Our classes are still the priority.”
He also reveals that a former UP student has proposed to put up a 3,000-seater multipurpose airconditioned arena in the area, which he says it can easily accommodate. It could potentially be a fitting addition to the UPD Sports Complex, where developments are currently underway for a football field, track oval, grandstand, and swimming pool—all intended to be at par with international standards. It doesn’t mean though that the archery range will no longer exist. It is included in CHK’s plans for the Complex, but will probably be relocated.
Dizer is confident that the University leadership will make decisions with the best interest of CHK in mind. CHK, and largely, UPD, seem poised and ready to take aim and hit the next bullseye, whenever that target may be placed and whatever it may be.
ARCHERY TRIVIA FROM ACROSS THE UP SYSYTEM
• UP Diliman alumna Ma. Amaya Amparo Paz-Cojuangco is a member of the national team. Her breakout year was 2005 when, at 19 years old, she won all the individual events in the women’s compound bow category in the 1st Asian Archery Grand Prix in Bangkok, Thailand and got two more gold medals in the team events. In addition to her four golds, she broke three national records in double 70 (675 points), 12 arrows (116 points), and 36 arrows (337 points). Just weeks after turning 20, she won the women’s compound events in the Southeast Asian Games. By the end of 2005, “Bulls Aya” ranked 39th in the world. As of this writing, her last gold medal was in the mixed team compound category of the Asia Cup earlier this year.
• UP Los Baños (UPLB) formed its varsity archery team in 2013 and it last competed in the ADMU-DLSU-UP Tri Meet in September 2017. The team is led by Coach April Iris Ladia, a UPLB alumna and former varsity athlete, who, prior to transferring to UPLB, was a varsity athlete of UP Baguio (UPB). UPLB stopped offering archery as a PE course around 5 years ago and has been unable to bring it back because of the lack of instructors.
• Archery is listed in “Elective Physical Education Activities for Beginners” in the 2013 UP Visayas Catalogue of Academic Programs. Unfortunately, the PE department says there were no takers.
• While UP Mindanao doesn’t offer archery, it did have a special PE session on Matigsalog Indigenous Peoples Games in 2014, which included a local form of archery. Bows and arrows made of bamboo were used to hit targets made of rolled rattan representing wild animals.
• Like UPLB, UPB stopped offering archery in PE because of manpower challenges. There’s currently no faculty member to teach the course and UPB resorted to hiring a lecturer in the past to sustain the class. Academic Year 2013-2014 was the last time archery was available. The UPB Archery Team still exists though it currently doesn’t have a coach. Their last competition as a team was the 2015-2016 Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League (BBEAL). Two of its members also competed in the 2017 State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association National Games. The team brought home the gold during the 1995 Palarong Pambansa and won the BBEAL championships in 1996-1997, 1997-1998, and 1998-1999 seasons.
• There is a UP Archery Club. Founded in 2006 and registered in UPLB ten years later, the Club describes its members as “archers from different campuses bound by one university.” The Club, joined by the UPLB Archery Team, competed in the ADMU-DLSU-UP Tri Meet in September 2017.
• UP Manila, UP Open University, and UP Cebu don’t have PE courses nor varsity teams in archery.
Read the online UP Forum April-June 2018 Vol. 19 No. 2 issue in full here.