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Three years after the blaze, still devastated by the fire that gutted the UP Faculty Center

17 June 2019 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post

Three
years after the blaze,iIt is still difficult for this writer to grapple
and accept the fact that the treasured memories we once had as
students of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, had the Faculty
Center gutted by fire on April 1, 2016.

Though
on January 25, 2019, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Faculty
Center project to be built, which according to current UP President, Danilo
Concepcion is “set to be reborn as a new and improved facility. It will be
a cluster of structures that includes a nine-level faculty building, a
six-level parking structure, a single story hall and an amphitheater. The 675
million-peso project is expected to be finished by November next year and the
UP president added that UP holds the Department of Public Works and Highways
(DPWH) to its promise of efficient project implementation. DPWH is UP’s
partner in the undertaking.”

In
a published comment, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, who underscored the
significance of bringing the FC back, likened the FC’s rebirth to a
“phoenix rising from the ashes; it will be more grand and splendid.”

DPWH
Secretary Mark Villar on the other hand, promised a “fast and
efficient implementation of the project, which most certainly, the
new FC is what UP deserves.”

The
Faculty Center or FC as we called it, was the most independent, large
structure in the university complex, which housed its faculty offices. It
is where undergrads like us seek refuge. along with guidance and
educational meetings with our benevolent teachers/professors, to
enable them to assist or discuss with us, matters that will
help in our quest for learning.

For
us, though the new structure sounds exciting and contemporary in look, the
gutted historical building and its treasured contents, is undoubtedly
irreplaceable. 

Apparently,
the fire that gutted the building on April 1, 2016, started at 1:40 am and had
no specific cause, according to one of the firemen who arrived and saw the
devastation. By 4:40 am of that day, it was reported that the “spark was a
result of combustion caused by a sudden mix of oxygen coming from the
atmospheric air; the combustion was due to the presence of fuel, heat and
oxygen.” 

In
an interview with Rappler three years ago, Jay Ar Igno, a Linguistics professor
said he has worked at the FC since 2003, first as a student assistant and now
as a professor and he mourned the loss of his files, student records and valued
books.

The FC, was once the venue for forums, debates, lecture, seminars and
symposiums, held in its circular conference hall. But it was the faculty
cubicles that served as the “sanctuary of UP academes,” this was
where our teachers retreated and spent their long hours to rest and
reflect on their daily work. This was like their home, where they kept
their treasured laptops, journals, notes, official documents, CDs and
important records/files that enable them to fulfill their duty as
members of the academic institution.

This
writer was one of the lucky students mentored by three admirable professors:
Dr. Lucila Hosillos, who taught several courses in Comparative Literature,
Professor Josefina Mariano, who taught advanced English courses and Professor
Leticia Ramirez, who taught upper Shakespeare classes. The FC became this
writer’s sanctuary. Being mentored by these three dynamic professors, this
writer was in awe of their cubicles which became their second home; it was here
at the FC where they stashed loads of memorabilia in their “little corner
of the world.” They had built-in bookshelves, makeshift drawers of rare
books, which some of us were able to borrow, documents, files and student
records.

The
three of them, with yours truly, felt privileged, tagging along
during some of their “rare” out-of-campus “getaways.” and
those memories we had were truly unforgettable. There were numerous times when
the four of us would ride Professor Mariano’s jitterbug-ish Mercedes
Benz and we would all stroll by the eateries in Cubao or drive to Marikina, to
window shop or buy inexpensive trendy footwear.

Having
established bonding with these academic mentors at the FC building
was such a memorable experience in itself and downright
unforgettable. Too, it is in the FC building where other idolized academic
mentors also “lived” at the time. It is with deep reverence
to pass by the cubicles of our other top notched professors such as:
Dean Epifania Eugenio, Professors: Francisco Arcellana, Leopoldo Yabes,
NVM Gonzales, Edilberto San Jose, Oscar Alfonso, Antonio Hidalgo
and Lourdes Del Rosario.

Thus
in hindsight, this writer is still devastated and saddened by
the loss of the old Faculty Center, where memories of
these idolized professors, along with their outstanding mentoring and
imparted intellect went with the flames that burned the once historical
building. Lasting memories are truly irreplaceable.

                                                                         
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