By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
January 9, 2008
TENS of thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni of the University of the Philippines kicked off yesterday the national university’s year-long centennial celebration with a parade, a torch relay, a 100-gun salute and a concert by alumni.
Contingents from UP campuses in Manila, Los Baños, Mindanao, Pampanga and Baguio, and the Open University marched through University Avenue and around the Academic Oval.
A helicopter from the Air Force, flown by alumni, showered confetti on parade participants and onlookers.
One of the most applauded parade contingents was from the UP Diliman-based College of Fine Arts.
The CFA students portrayed dancing versions of the Oblation that poked fun at FEU, UST, Ateneo and La Salle, among other schools. Bringing up the rear was an Oblation who danced to the tune of the popular ditty “Papaya.”
CFA students also paid tribute to national artists who came from the college with icons identified with them: a giant yellow taxi cab for Ben Cabrera, the ubiquitous face of Larry Alcala, and the Transfiguration of the Christ by Napoleon Abueva, among others.
Miniature versions of “Ikot” jeepneys “plied” the parade route.
The major branches of the Armed Forces – Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force – were portrayed by the contingent from the UP Vanguards, a fraternity of ROTC members.
Activists belonging to the broad political alliance STAND UP marched in their hundreds, waving red flags and placards demanding a bigger state subsidy.
Overhead, a helicopter from the Philippine Air Force showered confetti on the parade and onlookers.
Twelve PAF skydivers carrying the names of the different UP campuses and the centennial theme “Ang galing mo!” jumped from the helicopter.
UP Baguio’s contingent was made up of Igorots in traditional garb who danced the “pattong” as the parade passed the Oblation statue in front of Quezon Hall.
Alumnus Fernando Javier, a UP engineering graduate in 1933, led 100 torchbearers in a relay around the oval. Now 100 years old, he is UP’s oldest-known living alumnus. He was cheered by students and relatives.
The 100 torchbearers ended in front of the Oblation to light the Centennial Cauldron, which was designed by UP alumnus Joel Ajero. UP officials said the cauldron symbolizes the core values and constituent universities of UP.
The kick-off celebrations were capped by a concert featuring Ryan Cayabyab, the Madrigal Singers, the Singing Ambassadors, the Concert Chorus and the Pep Squad and by a fireworks display.
More celebrations – including a grand alumni homecoming — are lined up, especially on June 18, the actual day in 1908 when Philippine Legislature founded the University of the Philippines.
Since its founding, UP has produced seven of 14 presidents, 12 chief justices, 30 of 31 national scientists, 36 of 57 national artists, 15,000 doctors, 8,000 lawyers and 23,00 teachers among its quarter of a million alumni.