Stories to relive a hundred years

By: Madrileña de la Cerna February 03,2018 - 09:43 PM


I started attending alumni homecomings of the UP Alumni Association Cebu Chapter in 1998 and since then I never missed a single homecoming. The first two homecomings were very memorable because the late Atty. Prospero Manuel, an alumnus and was then a professor of UP Cebu, gave an interesting account of their student days at UP Cebu.

For two consecutive gatherings, he always gave different events of their student days including the history of UP Cebu. What made it interesting was his manner of telling the story — full of wit and humor.

In my last column I announced the centennial celebration of UP Cebu this year, and one interesting activity the UP Alumni Association Cebu Chapter will undertake is the compilation of a hundred stories of the hundred years of UP Cebu.

I mentioned the different kinds of stories within the hundred years. This time I would like to suggest the flow of the stories and any alumnus/alumnae can choose the period he/she is familiar with.

For a start, consider the situation of Cebu before 1918 leading to the endorsement of the Provincial Board to the UP Board of Regents and the establishment of a UP branch in Cebu.

With the approval on May 3, 1918, classes opened on July 1, 1918, at the Barracks in Ermita (now part of Carbon) which was vacated by the Americans and there was no building to house the first enrollees which numbered 28.

For everybody’s information, UP Cebu was originally called the Junior College of the Liberal Arts of UP (for short, Junior College).

Three years after (1922), the second campus was in a PNB-owned building in Colon St. corner D. Jakosalem St. (where the Gaisano Main now stands).

But the building was bought by a fraternity and classes were transferred to its third campus, Fort San Pedro.

The fort is never conducive to holding classes so much so the provincial government donated a 13-hectare land in Lahug as the permanent house of UP Cebu.

Stories from the opening of classes and the transfer of campuses have so much to tell. So much that the late psychology professor of UP Cebu Michael B. Mende remarked, “Uy! Batang pier diay ang taga UP Cebu!”

The campus had only the present administration building to accommodate the students. Inaugurated on Commencement Day of March 1929 by then UP President Jose Palma, the campus then was filled with additional buildings at the back of the admin building and adjoining bungalow type of houses nearby to accommodate certain classes.

The field across the admin building was a wide sprawl which was enjoyed by the college football team. They had also a gym and a tennis court at the back of the high school building.

The pre-war years saw the campus provided with trees, the main degree conferred was Associate in Arts (A.A.) in pre-medicine, pre-law and pre-commerce. Many luminaries of Cebu and parents of luminaries of the country were among its students.

Within this time, there have been several attempts of the BOR to close UP Cebu but were not successful because of the lobbying and rallying of the UP alumni with the support of the community and officials of the city.

UP Cebu was temporarily closed during World War II. The Administration building which was first used to house the British and American Engineering staff was turned into the headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Forces with the condemned Cebuano prisoners including officials were detained and eventually executed on a hill at the back.

World War II brought so much destruction to the campus leaving only the administration building unscathed and a fragile building at its back which would hold several offices of the campus.

After the war years, UP Cebu would be blown up with a political motivated action that led to its closure in 1950.

The notorious elections of 1949 drew loud protests from students with UP Cebu students as the most vocal (verbally and literally) and its appropriations from the General Appropriations in congress was immediately cut off on July 1.

The campus was leased to the Jesuits (1950 to 1960) and established the Berchmann College. UP Cebu was reopened in 1963 after constant representations of the UP Alumni in Diliman but only as a graduate school.

The 1970’s saw the reopening of the high school (1972) and the Undergraduate Division (1973) with the establishment of several academic programs. With the problem of classrooms came the age of the Gazebos.

Alumni who experienced holding classes in the gazebos have so much to tell.

In the early 80’s, with the building of the library building which also housed the conference hall made a mark in UP Cebu’s history which included paranormal activity.

In the mid 1980’s until 2010, UP Cebu was under the administration in UP Visayas in Iloilo City, faculty and students and staff had to travel to Iloilo for meetings and other activities.

Then more buildings rose and the face of UP Cebu changed though it moved from an autonomous unit to a constituent university. The original 13-hectare land is now only 3.5 hectares with the rest occupied by informal settlers.

With the preview of the periods of UP Cebu’s history, take any of the periods and interview any of the alumni who happened to be in UP Cebu at the time. But personal experience is much better.

This column will be featuring any of the stories submitted until May 3, 2018.

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