Travel & Tours


“Uy, palakpak daw ‘pag papara. Ikaw na!” 

We dropped off at Vinzon’s and headed straight to the vendors selling food. Guess what we ordered: Sweet & Spicy Pancit Canton with Kikiam and Lemon Iced Tea – UP style. We started walking and then thought of chilling for a bit at AS steps when the rain started pouring. Many thanks to the empty bleacher outside Palma Hall; they made our laptops and books safe and dry. There were only a few students left on the campus as it’s already 9 in the evening. Mao and I were just laughing about her mom’s stories when she was still teaching in Peyups

The rain was getting harder, but we found comfort in old-school advertisement materials posted on the board. If you’re looking for a tutor, peel off the number tab on the paper posted. Do you want to learn how to play instruments? Take note of the number listed. Are you looking for that college girl you saw while riding the UP TOKI jeep? She’s probably from the Math department. Needless to say, if one’s looking for answers to their existential questions, they might find those in any of UPD’s bleachers – probably written in Morse code or Alibata. 

Palma Hall bleacher. Photo by the author

Kidding aside, the UP Diliman campus is not only home for the Iskolars ng Bayan. It is also home for those who seek refuge and need comfort. There is simply something about this place that makes things feel lighter. When we’re here, we feel like everything is just going to be all right. There is also a semblance of hope and courage in the air. Very UP, I would say. How often can you go to a place and say you feel safe? UP is our sanctuary. We bet it is, too, for a lot more people.

Home is UP

Huge life decisions were made while strolling around the acad oval. The dimmed streets, big trees, and the sentries of the nighttime offer a rare kind of peace and solitude. Whenever we carry the face of a wet weekend or when the noise and clamor of living in a concrete jungle become deafening, the lights of the lampposts commiserate.  

To say that UP loves symmetry is both funny and accurate. How Melchor Hall seemingly mirrors the famous facade of Palma Hall is clever. The sandwiched greens that stretch from the Amphitheater up to the Sunken Garden is like a hard candy with a surprise center. 

“I’m flying back to Iloilo next week.” She says that she’s finally at peace knowing that she tried well enough, struggled hard enough, and still overcame her fears and insecurities. This is our usual thing. As best friends, when something is so important, we crack the news by going here. I knew something was up the moment I got that text message that only says ”UP?”

She explained how it was a complete 360 for her from when she was still studying in UP versus when she joined the firm where I was working. She further explained how thankful she is that her parents encouraged her to go to UP because it didn’t just give her knowledge; UP also prepared her for real-life situations. As a defender of the green side, of course, I refuted that wherever we went to or wherever we are, we are responsible for our own learnings. And that we should bloom wherever we are planted. 

Changing of the seasons in UP

When I first met her, she was this unassuming, diffident fresh grad trying to blend in. Our friendship grew behind childish and comical school wars – trying to disprove each other’s claims about our schools. But there is one thing that we can agree to disagree with – there is nothing like the UP vibe. 

Graffiti outside ChemSoc office. Photo by the author

Even from an outsider’s perspective, I could understand the fascination and why products of this institution hold it so dear and close to their hearts. To feel those, despite not attending in it, speaks volumes about how UP is welcoming of those who would want to witness it transcend honor and excellence, safety and security, and home and comfort. 

This place witnessed her struggles and how she grew up to become the woman that she is now. It has seen her downfalls and her triumphs. It gave her friendship and shelter whenever dark clouds hang over her head. This place made her tough. It prepared her for the bigger things in life. She became ready, she learned, and she will continue to thrive without a shadow of a doubt. 

UP Oblation, Quezon Hall. Photo by the author

UP is nurturing a lot of people like Mao. People who briefly stumbled and understand that when you fall, there is no other way but up. It will continue to be a safe space to express oneness and individuality. Their doors will remain open for those who need a place to run to when there is nowhere else to go. Sometimes, that is all we need – a place to breathe when everywhere and everything becomes suffocating. 

Final stroll

They say that in UP, “madaling makapasok, mahirap makalabas.” I believe her when she said it’s hard to get in and even harder to get out. UP is like life’s Petri dish where you’ll be tried and tested – academically or not. Even in the walkways outside its classrooms, insider or not. Mao was tried and tested by this nurturing haven. She carries with her not just the things she learned in classrooms but also the things she learned while walking around a place of comfort and security – and just like that, UP made her graduate again. 



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