Sunday, April 25, 2010
Ideal Icons and Symbols of the University of the Philippines
Yesterday I graduated with a degree - Master of Tropical Landscape Architecture in U.P Diliman. I donned the traditional Filipino barong topped with the maroon and green hablon-weaved sablay. In the university grounds and in the college of architecture, the U.P. colors and familiar symbols filled the air. I sang U.P. Naming Mahal (university hymn) once more. Ironically after 5 years of B.S. Arch and another 5 in MTLA, it was the first time I learned that while singing the hymn, it is proper to do some fist pumping. Doing so reminded me that the ideals of U.P. are usually recognized as passionate and aggressive, thus leading to misconceptions of activism and non-conforming to standards.
Another symbol of the state U is Helianthus anuus, or simply called the sunflower. It has been planted in the early months of each year along University Avenue for as long as I could remember. The blooming of the sunflowers are expected in April or May, hopefully ushering U.P. into the summer season. Befittingly the blooming coincided with this year's university graduation rites. It has been documented that regular sunflower blooms face to the direction where the sun is. They are supposed to follow its path, from east to west. I once heard from Prof. Mary Anne Espina that the U.P. sunflowers are special. They do not face or follow the sunpath. They are therefore said to be very similar to U.P.. students, very non-conformists.
In last year's Lantern Parade, one of the event hosts unwittingly commented that U.P. should adopt the Christmas symbol, Euphorbia pulcherimma or poinsettia (also called Poinsettia pulcherimma), as its mascot plant because of its red and green color (very near the U.P. maroon and green colors). Botanist and U.P. grad. Leonard Co commented that poinsettia would have been a very poor choice to symbolize U.P. The term mascot may have been the right term to use for the poinsettia. Leonard said that the proper symbol plant for U.P. should be a native species, obviously to further strengthen the national pride particularly in the state U. The premier institution should be represented with a very strong formed and charactered plant. It should perfectly display the U.P. colors rather than just approximate the maroon with the red of a poinsettia.
Leonard volunteered a couple of native species as candidates. One is Clerodendrum quadriloculare which would have been a nice addition to the landscape of U.P. Diliman. Bagawak, as it is fondly called, has dark green leaves with dark maroon undersides. garden spectators are usually rewarded with very showy seasonal flowers, which appear in February and March. Plant candidate no. 2 is Leea magnolifolia, which has more architectural form and wider leaves, also with the same green and maroon colors. The plant is very attractive as a foliage plant but the flowers are less flambouyant.
I am not sure if U.P. would even consider to have a plant symbol to represent it. But if it does any of the two native species will make good U.P. plant icons. Each could obviously embody the U.P. character in their aesthetics. They would probably make more better plant reputations than the rebel sunflowers. But in any case the U.P. representation of any plant species is only superficial, compared to the accomplishments that each graduate could accomplish after their life in U.P. These are the true attestments of how great an institution U.P. has become.