Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Palma Hall that was

WHEN I WAS STUDYING at the University of the Philippines Diliman, I spent a lot of time at Palma Hall, or what we non-freshmen people called AS (short for Arts and Sciences; it used to be the home of the College of Arts and Sciences, if my memory serves me right). When I was a freshman, my brother had to force me to call it "AS" lest people think I was a newbie and trick me into rushing to the non-existent TBA building.

I took my English, Geography, Linguistics, Kasaysayan, Communications, Art Studies, among other General Education classes there. I invested a lot of happy memories in its halls, mostly of meeting random classmates in old, non-airconditioned classrooms; sitting on the cold, red floor to finish a good book while waiting for classes to begin; and buying blue books for Php 2 from a certain manong at the second floor.

So imagine my excitement when I saw old photos of Palma Hall archived in the Arkitekturang Filipino website. I'm glad the Art Studies Foundation, Inc., the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the United Architects of the Philippines have joined forces to create the site, if only to remind us that the Philippines was once a beautiful nation—architecturally speaking. Of course many of those buildings still stand to this day, but their beauty is obscured by the architectural mediocrity of recently constructed structures surrounding them.

Palma Hall was designed by architect Cesar Concio. 

The building is named after the first Filipino president of UP, Rafael Palma.

That tree looks familiar.

Activists like staging rallies here.

UP was—and still is—a sight to behold.

This was the AS Lobby before it was turned into the must-go place to buy affordable, carefully chosen, second-hand books—a reader's paradise. I don't think they still sell books there anymore. 

I thank God for the opportunity to study at the University of the Philippines. I can honestly say I became part of its history, if only for the little tag I wrote on one of the wooden arm chairs. And the "Press button to eject professor" marking? No, I did not write that.



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