This morning, the University of the Philippines’ Faculty Center was gutted by a ravenous fire. According to news sites, the fire began around 1:15 AM and was completely put out by 11:25 AM. Investigators said that the fire was caused by the faulty electrical wiring on the third floor.
Designed by Carlos Arguelles, the Faculty Center houses the offices of most of the departments from the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP).
UPD Chancellor Michael Tan said that no one was hurt in the fire. He must have missed the sound of thousands of hearts breaking at the loss of such a gem. Thousands of articles, drafts, paintings, antique furniture, and out-of-print books are stored in the offices of the professors, and I don’t want to know how much that would cost.
Sic transit gloria mundi
When I shared a photo of the raging fire with my officemates (who are mostly from CAL), some of them cried. I didn’t, because I couldn’t imagine how such a tragedy could fall upon my beloved university. I still can’t wrap my head around what happened.
After all, this was the building where I first read about Marx and Socrates. This was where I discovered literature and languages, history and sociology. I remember the smell of the moldy walls, and the soft light of the setting sun filtered by the grimy windows as I waited for my turn at the photocopying machine. I remember the first forum I attended there, the first time I visited our department’s office, and the crushing dread I felt at the end of every semester as I checked whether I failed a subject or not.
I’m rambling. I’m still upset. But as Sir Jun Cruz Reyes said on his Facebook page,
If you have any idea how we can help the current students or our faculty, please leave a comment.
UPDATE: Reach out to the administrators of the following Facebook pages to donate old books and readings: