The flagship campus of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City—an area more than 10 times larger than the Vatican City—truly is a place to be proud of. Its campus is not just home to academic, research, and administrative buildings. It also is a literal home to some of the University’s faculty members, staff, and students, a number of informal settlers, and the diverse flora and fauna found within the campus.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, in his vision papers for UP Diliman during the selection process for the Chancellorship in 2014 and 2016, focused on “Pride of Place.” Surely, the public can be proud of UP Diliman as a physical space and its place in history. UP Diliman served an important site of activism in the years leading up to and during the martial law period under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. UP Diliman is and was home to some of the country’s top officials, national artists and scientists, and even heroes.
What UP Diliman is not, though, is Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s alma mater. Rizal was born in Calamba, Laguna on June 19, 1861. He was publicly executed on December 30, 1896. UP’s first campus in Padre Faura, Manila was founded on June 18, 1908, or 12 years after his death. Constructions for the development of the Diliman campus only started in 1939. However, several Rizalian artworks—most of whom were created by its alumni—can be seen in display at UP Diliman.
Here are some artworks made in honor of and related to Rizal which can be seen inside the campus:
1. Jose Rizal bust at the UPD Palma Hall Steps
Welcoming the many students that pass through the entrance of UP Diliman’s Palma Hall is a bust of Rizal by National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino. Tolentino is an alumnus of UP. Below Tolentino’s Rizal bust is a plaque that provides the first verse of Rizal’s poem, “A La Juventud Filipina.” Translated in English by Leon Ma. Guerrero, the particular verse reads:
Filipino Youth, now raise your novice brow,
Display your wealth of graces, you who are
The fairest promise of my native land.
2. Jose Rizal sculpture at the Rizal Garden, UPD College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
Just behind UP Palma Hall’s first floor lobby is a garden named in honor of Rizal. There, a sculpture of Rizal by Domingo Celis, similar to Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo due to the absence of the arms, can be seen. It was donated to the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) on October 22, 1996 by Celis’ daughter, Mrs. Trinidad Celis-Tuazon.
3. Painting with La Solidaridad’s Rizal, del Pilar, and Jacinto at UPD Palma Hall’s 2nd Floor Lobby
At the lobby of UP Palma Hall’s second floor is a mural that features the images of Rizal and his co-editors at La Solidaridad, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena.
4. UP Bulwagang Rizal (UP Diliman Faculty Center)
UP Diliman’s historic Faculty Center (FC), so named in honor of Rizal, was built in 1964. It housed the office rooms of some of the University’s faculty members, where books, manuscripts, lesson plans, and other valuable artifacts were stored. In the FC also were the Claro M. Recto Conference Hall, Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan, Art Studies Library, Biblioteca Pablo K. Botor, Cecilio Lopez Archives, galleries, and administrative offices of the UP College of Arts and Letters (CAL) and some of the departments of CAL and CSSP. The said building was ravaged by fire on April 1, 2016. A new faculty center is expected to rise soon.
5. Jose Rizal painting at the UPD CAL Library
A painting of Rizal by National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto Cabrera greets the studious students entering the UP Diliman CAL Library. Cabrera is an alumnus of UP.
6. “Three Women Sewing the First Filipino Flag” behind the UPD Amphitheater
Just behind the UP Diliman’s University Amphitheater is where National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva and his sons’ “Three Women Sewing the First Filipino Flag” can be found. Abueva is an alumnus of UP. This monument commemorates the sewing of the Philippine flag by Marcela and Lorenza Agoncillo, and Josefina (or Delfina) Herbosa de Natividad while in exile in Hong Kong. Herbosa de Natividad is Rizal’s niece.
7. The Oblation at the UPD Oblation Plaza
Displayed in front of the UP Quezon Hall in Diliman—UP System’s seat of power—is the replica of National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino’s “Oblation.” Tolentino is an alumnus of UP. The 9-foot tall bronze cast of the original Oblation was unveiled on November 29, 1958 as part of the University’s golden anniversary celebration. The Oblation was commissioned by then UP President Rafael Palma and was based on the second stanza of Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” which reads in English as translated by Nick Joaquin:
In barricades embattled; fighting with delirium,
others donate you their lives without doubts, without gloom,
The site doesn’t matter; cypress, laurel, or lily;
gibbet or open field, combat or cruel martyrdom,
are equal if demanded by country and home.
The said sculpture is said to have been also inspired by Rizal’s poem, “A La Juventud Filipina.”
8. The Oblation at the UPD Main Library
The original Oblation sculpture by National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino can be seen inside UP Diliman’s Main Library, on its third floor. Tolentino is an alumnus of UP. It is made of reinforced concrete painted to look like bronze and was completed in March 1936. Before its transfer to the then newly-acquired campus in Diliman on February 11, 1949, the Oblation was previously located in the quadrangle of UP Padre Faura, between Rizal Hall and the Conservatory of Music building and was able to withstand the war, and the battle of the liberation of Manila.
9. Gomburza painting at the UPD Main Library
A painting of secular priests Fr. Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora by Virginia Flor-Agbayani can be seen hanging inside the Special Collections Section of UP Diliman’s Main Library. Flor-Agbayani is an alumna of UP. Rizal dedicated his novel, “El Filibusterismo,” in memory of the said priests who are collectively known as Gomburza. The priests were executed at Bagumbayan, Manila in 1872, 24 years before Rizal’s execution on the same grounds.
10. Jose Rizal bust at the UPD Main Library
This wooden bust of Rizal can also be seen at the Special Collections Section of UP Diliman’s Main Library. The bust was created by Graciano Nepomuceno.