By Doni June Valenzuela Almio
It was back in 2008 when I first stepped on the grounds of the place that became my second home for four years. As I was on my way to the Registrar’s Office where the process for my enrolment would start, I began to realize that the place where I would be spending my college life is mountainous—literally—surrounded by hills and lots of trees. When I traveled to the freshmen dorm where I was going to stay, I learned that the campus was basically located in a forest! And while traversing the 1.5-2-km road to the dorm area in a tricycle, we would pass by some cattle grazing in the grass. Some of them would even cross the road.
What’s this place you ask? It’s the University of the Philippines Visayas-Miag-ao Campus, the UP campus where Fisheries and Ocean Studies is the flagship course.
Having been born and raised in the city, I found staying in a place like UP Visayas-Miagao quite a new experience. It was different from the usual busy city scene where vehicles would just come and go, where city lights would keep everything bright day or night, and where people would regularly have a day full of activities, even in the unholy hours. At UP Visayas-Miag-ao, the city was about an hour, at least 45 minutes, away by car.
Even if tricycles are available on campus, on a sunny day, a walk, more like a stroll, from the dorm area to the various college buildings, is recommended under the shade of the large trees. There’s the unique symbol of UP Visayas, the Diwata ng Dagat, a statue created by Napoleon V. Abueva, often described as “a strong and determined woman standing on fish and pulling a fishnet, which symbolizes the philosophy and aspirations of the University though its College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (CFOS).” You’ll also pass through Chancellor’s Park, where under the dimness casted by the tall trees on campus some students would sit together and chat. I even remember how some of my classmates would sit somewhere along Chancellor’s Park alone to meditate and ponder some personal or philosophical questions. Beside Chancellor’s Park is a symbol that can be seen in all of the campuses of the University of Philippines: the Oblation.
One of the hidden gems of UP Visayas-Miag-ao Campus is the Centennial Forest, a project of the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity, where thrive many types of trees. It is also a place where the students, faculty, and staff of the University often conduct tree-planting activities. It is a place of reflection, peace, and calm.
Further into the dorm area, you would stumble upon one of the most iconic places of UP Visayas-Miag-ao Campus, the so-called Lover’s Lane, just along the football field where well-aligned trees give shade to those who traverse the road. As the nickname of the road suggests, it is the lane for couples who would want to hold hands while walking in the sun. But that doesn’t mean that Lover’s Lane is exclusive for romance.
You’re probably wondering why UP Visayas-Miag-ao Campus’ flagship course is Fisheries and Ocean Studies, despite being located in a mountainous area. Well, this is one of the things that make this UP campus exceptionally amazing. It is a place where the mountain meets the sea. Aside from the fact that you can explore the different land-based sceneries, you can also enjoy the sunset by the beach, which is basically a part of the campus. In order to reach the beach, you pass through the Hundred Steps, which really is more than a hundred, if you count carefully. In my last count, the steps numbered around 132.
On a recent visit to my college alma mater, I found out that beside the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, there’s a new hangout spot the boasts of a spectacular view of the sea. But what’s best about it is you can take in the view while enjoying pancit canton or kwek-kwek.
Indeed, UP Visayas-Miagao has one of the most beautiful campuses in the Philippines, a place where you can study while enjoying the many gifts of nature.