Top Philippine school becomes a weekly recreational haven
The University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), known for its high-quality education and diverse campus culture, is one of the loudest, busiest and most active academic institutions in the country. But on Sundays, this century-old state university becomes a quiet and peaceful haven for Sunday strollers, fitness buffs, and nature lovers.
The Academic Oval or Acad Oval, which is at the heart of the campus, is closed to vehicular traffic on Sundays making the 2.2-kilometer long track an exclusive recreational venue for people of all ages and interests. This transformation makes the campus practically everyone’s backyard.
“In normal days, UP Diliman is a simple university like others where people go in and go out, but on weekends especially on Sundays the atmosphere changes because it becomes more of a recreational park. Many people can jog around, play, and it’s also free. There is clean air and there are no cars,” said Delburg Mitchao, a 2nd year UPD student who resides and frequently jogs in the campus.
The usual noise and smoke pollution belched out by motorized vehicles are practically nonexistent. The thousands of students, professors, and occasional activists who populate the campus are gone as well.
With the usual campus atmosphere gone, how then would the campus look like? Here are the three things that would best describe UPD’s Sunday scenery:
A fitness and recreation facility
Spending your Sundays at the UPD campus is a great way of taking time out of the urban landscape and enjoying the cheap and simple thrills in life.
The Sunday ambiance is so peaceful and quiet that even the chirps of the birds can be heard. Plus, being car-less for the whole day makes the area practically pollution free.
As early as 5 a.m., hundreds to thousands of joggers, bikers and other persons who have other recreational activities in mind flock the Acad Oval for a peaceful and fun-filled day.
Even local celebrities like Piolo Pascual, Matt Evans, and KC Concepcion occasionally prefer the campus as a fit jogging location.
Nestle Project Coordinator Sonny Pineda, who regularly uses the oval as a venue for Nestle’s wellness and fitness activities, said that the oval is conducive for promoting a healthy lifestyle among the Filipinos.
Families from all over the Metro Manila region treat the oval as a park by doing all sorts of pleasing activities. Badminton and volleyball are among the sporting events that these families engage in. Groups and individuals also use the oval as a suitable place for aerobics and for walking their dogs. Some teenagers use the humps of the oval to hone their skateboarding skills.
The Gen. Antonio Luna Parading Grounds, commonly known as the Sunken Garden, has been used for most part of the day as a playing field for soccer and ultimate frisbee.
Some would simply laze in the shade while reading a book. Using mats as beds, others would simply go here to have a relaxing outdoor nap. On windy Sundays, some would engage in kite flying.
A huge art exhibit
With a more pleasant atmosphere, the campus and the numerous works of art it contains are better appreciated.
The Acad Oval, which consists of the Osmeña and Roxas avenues, is surrounded by many natural and man-made masterpieces.
The Oblation statue, the most iconic figure in UPD, is a sculpture of a young naked man with his arms spread wide and head held up, looking skyward. This sculpture, made by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino, signifies the act of offering oneself in the service of the nation.
Most of the buildings that surround the oval showcase the mid-20th century architecture. The Quezon Hall, which houses the university administration, is buttressed by huge pillars reminiscent of neoclassical architecture.
At the rear of Quezon Hall is the amphitheatre which leads to the UPD Donors Garden, where National Artist Napoleon Abueva’s Tres Marias sculpture can be found.
Photographers, both amateurs and professionals, extend their appreciation by ensuring that they would go home with a souvenir shot of these classical and historic works of art.
The beauty of the lush greenery in UPD is another feast for the eyes. There are 281 acacia trees lining the oval with 109 on the outer lane and 172 on the inside.
Elsewhere in the campus various trees can be found – Molave, Narra or Burmese rosewood, Fire trees, Mahogany and rare species like the Earpod and Sorrowless trees.
A romantic love lounge
At around 6 p.m., when the sun is down and street lamps are finally lit up, the whole area instantly becomes a lovers’ lounge.
By this time some, joggers are still present but most people are simply basking the romantic ambiance with their special someone.
After being a playing field for most of the day, the sunken garden turns into a perfect venue for romantic picnics. Most of the couples are seen near this area while some do slow walks around the oval.
Having said all this, is not a Sunday in UPD the perfect time and place for rest, relaxation, and recreation?