I suppose it was proper that on Halloween I visited, for the first time since my childhood, the “haunt” of great Filipinos past and present – the University of the Philippines, Diliman. (Please, please, please excuse the pun, I couldn’t resist).
I came during the break between first and semester break, so the campus was not that full. However, there were still people coming and going, playing on the grass, frequenting the shopping center, etc.
It wasn’t the best day to tour around campus because of the dark clouds and rain. The inclement weather made some of the buildings look quite neglected. Some of the streets were a bit dirty, and the grass was a little unkempt.
And yet through all of that I could see that this was a great, proud place. Quezon Hall and the Oblation stood in their usual magnificence, as did some of the other historic buildings on campus. The lush, park-like greenery seemed to invite overworked, burned-out mga Iskolar ng Bayan to relax under a tree so that their heads would not explode.
Certainly, there are schools with nicer, more expensive facilities in the Philippines, like Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle. What UP offers is a chance to meet scholars from all walks of life, from every province of the Philippines and every corner of Earth (a respectable 26 nationalities are represented in the student body), united by a common thirst for knowledge. Sounds like my kind of place.