Tribute to acacias

Dennis Gorecho - Kuwentong Peyups

The acacias of the Academic Oval are silent witnesses to the suffering of the inhabitants of the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines.

As a tribute to my second home for a decade, I ran 10 kilometers (five laps of the 2.2 kilometer loop) to crown my golden year last December.

The 10 kilometer run symbolizes 10 years, a fifth of my 50 years of existence, as one of the Iskolar ng Bayan.

Covered with hardy hundred-year-old acacia trees, the Academic Oval of Diliman is a haven not only for runners, but also for cyclists.

A favorite photo backdrop is the panoramic view of how tree branches on the left side of the street meet with those on the right side, forming a sort of arch. They are now part of UP’s culture and heritage.

Most of the trees are as old as the campus itself. They provide much needed shade and bring a soothing breeze even in the scorching heat.

Acacias, botanically known as Albizia saman, were the first trees planted after UP’s transfer to Diliman in the late 1940s.

The hard mud floors had to be blasted to allow them to take root.

Since then said the UP website, the trees spoke eloquently of UP Diliman’s rapid and robust growth. Now larger than life, acacias dominate the university center, providing shade where there were once only meadows.

UP’s website added: Like UP and the country’s colonial past, they are also “dominant and persistent, roots long and winding, beautiful and frightening at the same time; and as an exotic species, imposed forever, alien to the earth.

A former UP student once wrote: “The way the branches extend completely from the trunk of the tree, like the arms extending from the body, shows how students are pushed to their limits, especially academically. Yet despite this, Acacia trees and students remain strong amid all this expansion, getting used to it even more over the years.

For the Hebrews, the acacia is considered to be the wood that Moses was commissioned to use during the construction of the Ark of the Covenant which contained the two tablets of the Ten Commandments.

Before the pandemic, the oval was divided into three lanes, the outermost part being dedicated to motorists and the innermost to joggers and bikers. Motorists are now prohibited from crossing most of the oval.

The loop has seen many events including rallies, an UP fair, and lantern parades.

I was born around the same time that the First Quarter Storm (FQS) was associated with anti-martial law protests, mostly led by UP students and professors.

I was barely two months old when the nine-day uprising called “Diliman Commune” from February 1-9, 1971, became evidence of the UP’s role as a “bastion of activism” since the early days of the dictatorship of Marcos. The academic oval was my comfort as a student at the UP School of Economics from 1987 to 1991 and later at the UP College of Law from 1992 to 1998.

After engaging in charts, formulas and laws of supply and demand as a major in economics, I crossed the street to continue my law school.

Crossing the path of legal education was difficult for the Exponential Power. I was a working student and then a newspaper reporter the day before rushing to my evening classes.

“To serve the people. Don’t betray your humanity, ”said my professor and Supreme Court associate judge Marvic Leonen. It was also at UP that I became a roommate with Buddy Zabala and Raymund Marasigan of Eraserheads for two years (1989 to 1991) at the Molave ​​dorm.

Because the band members often used our room to play their instruments and practice, I often ended up going to study elsewhere, as I couldn’t stand the “noise”. As a supportive roommate, I watched them perform at the annual UP Fair at Sunken Garden at a time when they were just starting to make waves inside campus.

It was beyond my comprehension that the “noise” I tried to avoid made them known as one of the most successful, critically acclaimed and important bands in history. of the OPM.

The oval is also home to the annual Lantern Parade, which is inspired by the popular practice of carrying lanterns of different shapes and sizes to light the way to early December Masses or gallo mass during the Spanish period.

Ten years at university make the concept of academic freedom cherish.

The campus has shaped us to fight for the causes we believe in; has trained us for the skills we need to communicate ideas and rally others to effect change in society.

All educational institutions, including UP, must be maintained as refuges for civilized and intelligent discourse of all democratic beliefs and forms of expression, where students and teachers can discuss freely without fear of censorship or retaliation . The acacias will continue to bear witness to UP’s existence as an institution with a critical eye on social and historical issues.

Peyups is the nickname for the University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers division of the law firm Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan. For comments, e-mail info@sapalovelez.com, or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.

Edward K. Thompson