University Of The Philippines Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of The Diliman Commune This February 2021
For 9 days in February 1971, faculty, staff, students, and local jeepney drivers at the University of the Philippines Diliman bravely fought for the safety of the campus against the violent police and military force. On the university's student-led publication, the Philippine Collegian, the headline "Raise high the barricades!" screams for urgency. The historic barricades that inspired the 1989 agreement between the state university and the Department of National Defense, barring the unauthorised presence of police and military on any campuses of the university.
It is indeed an interesting coincidence that this milestone year coincides with the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Lapulapu's triumph at the historic Battle of Mactan, which the whole country has been observing since the countdown began last year. With these glorious victories in our history, the state university has found it fitting to recognise these events as pools for discourse in a uniquely virtual celebration of its annual arts and cultural festival every February.
"The festival's activities are a call to each and every one of us to reflect on the ideas, concepts, and cultural and material exchanges that were born out of these critical junctures of world history..." UP Diliman's Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (OICA) said in a statement. "We shall continue casting a critical eye on social and historical issues, and sustaining the lively and thriving intellectual discourse between and among researchers, the academe, and the public".
In preparation for its activities, a towering art installation was built at the Oblation plaza. Created by the renowned Filipino multi-media artist Abdulmari Toym de Leon Imao Jr, better known as Toym Imao, the symbolic installation, done in crimson red, is made of repurposed furniture from the university, as well as with bamboo sticks from lighting parades and installation art completed before the pandemic.
"You have the freedom to come up with your own interpretation, we are in a democracy (or at least, that's what we know)," the artist said in his caption for his Facebook post last 25 January. "But if you will ask us, it is a visual commemoration of an important event in the history of an institution and its community that is awake and ready to fight for the rights and what is right against a dictatorship... Or we can also call it a clump of pick-up sticks... or incense sticks in a temple."
Reflecting the spirit of solidarity in the community of Diliman, and a resonance of the arduous revolutionary thinking and action of the militant youth in the '60s and '70s not only in UP but all over the world, the masterpiece is a remarkable sight to behold.
Entitled "enKWENTrO" (which translates to "Encounter" and the stylised letters translates to "Stories"), the arts and culture festival aims to shed light to students today the importance of the significant encounters mentioned earlier to the building of our nation's history. Through its series of online webinars, talks, and live streams of performances and exhibitions from February up to April, there should be a discourse on how the Diliman Commune shaped today's academic community of the university, the confusion and contention over "Mazaua" (the accounted name of place where the first Catholic Mass in the country was held), the socio-politics in 16th century Visayas region, the significance and influence of Christianity in the Filipino peoples' popular devotion, and so much more.
Visit the official Facebook page of UP Diliman-OICA for more information.
- Images UP Diliman Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts