A Haven for Everyone

The University of the Philippines is the country’s national university—the home of thinkers who help shape the nation. It is also a compassionate and nurturing University committed to honor and excellence. The University environment has always been a welcoming place, a place to turn to for refuge, healing, and enrichment. Here is a look at the University as a haven, a sanctuary of and for the people.

UP CSWCD alumna Marja Abad shares her Iska story (Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO)

Eight hundred kilometers southeast of Manila is Siargao Island. Much has been written in travel blogs about this surfer’s paradise, this next big thing of a tourist destination. Like many travelers, Marja Abad has been backpacking most of her life in and out of the Philippines and has gone to Siargao. However, unlike many of them who have to the island come and gone, she chose to stay.

“Life begins kapag hindi ka na nag-iinarte,” so the UP Mountaineers say. What could this actually mean for the longest running mountaineering organization in the country? Its forty years tell us how UP Mountaineers pioneered and sustained mountaineering as a consequential sport. More importantly, it showed how mountaineering is not just about literally reaching the summit, but going beyond it.

It is impossible to miss those electric colors—shifting from olive green to brown or dark green to violet; those shining in brilliant shades of blue and green; or the ones freckling in mixed colors of yellow, green, and brown; and especially those looking regal in mottled patterns of yellow-brown, green or gray—when passing through the waters of Silaqui Island in Bolinao, Pangasinan. Their luminescence is matched by their gigantic size, which make them the darling giants of the North.

For some people in this unique office, a day at work means getting up at the break of dawn to sail off to a nearby reef, and spend the rest of the day on an island in the sun, the salt crusting on their arms. Some stay behind at headquarters, tending saltwater tanks where colorful marine creatures reside. On the waves or onshore, these workers have special skills meant to sustain life in our vast and resource-rich oceans.

A reverie of impressions (Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO)

A high ceiling and sprawling walls provide the sheer vastness required by blown-up images of mounted paintings, such as those in Zean Cabangis’s body of work. This year’s edition of the world renowned Art Basel in Hong Kong provides the grandest of spaces for about 248 premier galleries from 32 countries and territories. According to a statement of Art Basel Hong Kong, it features “both historical material and cutting-edge works by established and emerging artists”, including Cabangis who is among other selected local artists representing the Philippines.

She is just as honest as she was during her final question-and-answer portion at the Miss Universe contest in 2010. But this time, eight years later, she admits that she has a major, major problem when asked why she wanted to take up a master’s degree in Community Development. “I’ll be very honest with you,” says the towering Bicolana beauty Venus Raj. “I had no idea what Community Development was at first. Someone told me to enroll in it as I was interested in going back to my roots and serving the community. Those were the selling points for me,” she continued.