President Roman leads opening of the exhibit hall (photo credits: The Diliman UP Date Online)

President Roman leads opening of the exhibit hall (photo credits: The Diliman UP Date Online)

The Bulwagan ng Dangal (Hall of Honor) is the newest and largest exhibition hall in the University of the Philippines Diliman. Located at the basement of the Gonzalez Hall (University Library), it was inaugurated on 18 June 2009, the 101st Foundation Day of the University. In a brief program, University Librarian Prof. SALVACION M. ARLANTE welcomed the guests while Office of the Initiatives for Culture and the Arts (OICA) Director Prof. RUBEN DEFEO described a brief background of this endeavor. UP President EMERLINDA ROMAN, UP Diliman Chancellor SERGIO CAO and National Artists VIRGILIO ALMARIO and NAPOLEON ABUEVA, together with former UP president Dr. EMANUEL SORIANO and Regent NELIA GONZALEZ untied the ceremonial ribbon, marking the opening of the Bulwagan.

With the opening of the Bulwagan, Prof. Arlante noted that “In the modern concept, the university now has a library, an archives and a museum all in one place.” Its central location further emphasizes its focal presence as the geographic and cultural heart of the university. Dr. GERARD LICO, the Campus Architect and professor at the College of Architecture designed the basement of the Gonzalez Hall to serve its new purpose as an exhibit space.

The inaugural exhibit Pag-asa ng Bayan (photo credits: Ms. Ching Omega)

The inaugural exhibit Pag-asa ng Bayan (photo credits: Ms. Ching Omega)

The inaugural exhibit Pag-asa ng Bayan (Hope of the Nation) showcases the expansive and diverse art collection of the University. The works of eight National Artists adorn the halls of the Bulwagan: Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Vicente Manansala, Abdulmari Asia Imao, Napoleon Abueva, Ben Cabrera, Hernando Ocampo and Jose Joya. Also included are the works of eminent artists Onib Olmedo, Santiago Bose, Dominador Castañeda, Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi, Neil Doloricon and Rock Drilon, among others. Prof. Defeo and Prof. PATRICK FLORES of the Department of Art Studies are the co-curators of this exhibit.

In addition to the artworks, also included are some items from the University’s archival collection: framed photograph of Florentino Collantes (Filipino poet and the second Hari ng Balagtasan, after Jose Corazon de Jesus) and his family; the portrait of Hermogenes Ilagan (The Father of Philippine Theatre); and the manuscript and illustrations by Guillermo Tolentino for his book Ang Wika at Baybaying Tagalog, published in 1937.

The provenance of some artworks in the Collection cannot be documented; they have just been with the University for so long some of them have been hanging for years unnoticed or ignored in the halls of buildings. Case in point: some guests at the inauguration were surprised at the Hernando Ocampo artwork in the University Library Collection, only to realize that it has been hanging at the Filipiniana Books Reading room since the 1990s. This exhibit is their time to shine and be noticed once again. Some are donated by the artists themselves, most are given by students, alumni, faculty and friends of the university, thereby enhancing not just the art collection, but the intellectual and artistic legacy of UP.

The opening of the Bulwagan promises a platform to showcase the works of up and coming artists; it is also hoped that this venture will encourage more artists to donate some of their works, and for donors to bequeath their collection to further enrich the cultural and artistic landscape of the university. — ECLagrama

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