University History

Over a hundred years of Service to the Filipino

The University of the Philippines was founded on June 18, 1908 through Act No. 1870 of the Philippine Assembly. UP was the result of the Secretary of Public Instruction, William Morgan Shuster’s recommendation to the Philippine Commission, the upper house of the Philippine Assembly.

The Act authorized the Governor General to establish the University of the Philippines in the “city of Manila, or at any point he may deem most convenient.” The UP was to give “advanced instruction in literature, philosophy, the sciences and arts, and to give professional and technical training” to every qualified student regardless of “age, sex, nationality, religious belief and political affiliation.”

The early years



UP opened its doors at Calle Isaac Peral (now United Nations Avenue) and Padre Faura in downtown Manila in 1909 with the School of Fine Arts; the College of Liberal Arts; the College of Medicine; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the College of Engineering; the College of Law; and the College of Agriculture in Los Baños, Laguna.

Its first president was American Murray Simpson Bartlett, who vowed that UP must be “for the Filipino” and that it must be “supported by the people’s money” with a charter framed by the people’s representatives and “its hope based on the confidence and sympathy of the people.”


pharmaceutical lab 2


In 1915, lawyer Ignacio Villamor would be chosen as president of the university. He would be the first Filipino to lead what had then grown to become the Philippines’ premier higher educational institution. Under Villamor, UP continued to grow with the addition of units such as the Conservatory of Music; the University High School; the College of Education; and the Junior College in Cebu City.

In 1935, UP’s famous statue, the Oblation, was installed at the Manila campus. The statue was the creation of National Artist Guillermo Tolentino on his interpretation of the second stanza of Dr. Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios.”

The transfer to Diliman

construction at diliman


The Second World War saw the destruction of several buildings of UP in Manila and Los Baños, Cebu and Iloilo. In 1947, the Philippine General Hospital formally became a part of UP through Executive Order No. 94. In 1948, under the stewardship of UP President Bienvenido Gonzales, much of the UP was transferred from its campus in Manila to bigger campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

The 50’s and 60’s saw the transformation of UP from the brainchild of the American hopes and dreams for the Philippines into a bastion of intense nationalism. UP President Vicente Sinco preserved the university’s integrity from communist paranoia and partisan politics while UP President Carlos P. Romulo introduced Filipinism, student activism and faculty dissent.




1971 was the year when the Diliman Republic became the Diliman Commune. From January to February, the campus became a battleground between militant students protesting the deteriorating conditions of the country, and policemen. The students completely barricaded the campus and established full control of the facilities. There were several attempts by the police to assault the campus, but they were unsuccessful.

In the succeeding years, UP has expanded much by establishing campuses and units in Baguio City; Miag-ao Iloilo; Tacloban City; San Fernando, Pampanga; Mintal, Davao; and the Open University based in Los Baños, Laguna.

Into the next century


Much has changed in UP over the past 100 years. From one campus in Manila, it now has eight constituent universities with 17 campuses all over the country; it has 258 undergraduate programs; and 438 graduate programs with students from almost every region in the country.

On April 29, 2008, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed the new UP Charter or Republic Act 9500. Efforts for the enactment of a new UP Charter go back to the term of UP President Edgardo Angara and were further studied during the term of UP President Jose Abueva. With the new mandate, the university faces the challenges of the 21st century by continuously exercising its distinctive leadership in higher education and development.

From the education of ordinary Filipinos under Americans at the time of UP President Bartlett to its journey onto another century under the stewardship of President Danilo Lardizabal Concepcion, the university has produced at least 37 National Scientists; at least 39 National Artists; 7 out of the 16 Presidents of the Republic; 13 Chief Justices of the Supreme Court; at least 15,000 doctors; 8,000 lawyers; 15,000 engineers; 23,000 teachers and hundreds of thousands of graduates in other academic fields.

Read: UP achieves top 100 ranking in THE Asia