Katipbahay (no, that’s not a typo)

I was browsing through my cellphone’s notes when I saw a few paragraphs I planned to turn into a blog entry weeks ago. Obviously, I forgot about it until now. Here it is.

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They are the two best universities in the country. A good number of the best politicians this country has came from these two universities. In that sense, they are neighbors. But geographically, they are neighbors, too. On Katipunan Avenue’s north bound side is one; the other on the south bound side.

I’m talking about the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines – Diliman.

I visited the Ateneo campus with my mother once to get application forms for the Ateneo College Entrance Test. We asked the guard where the ACET forms were located. He directed us to Xavier Hall. We spotted it immediately. It wasn’t as nice as the other buildings in the campus (like the John Gokongwei School of Management building). We went in and found the office for admissions (whose name I forgot). But lunch break came five minutes before we did. We had to wait.

As we sat on the benches in front of the office. I was observing the area immediately around us. Break time means lots of students. I saw three high schoolmates. Or was it four? I can’t remember. No, I did not talk to them. We were never close. I never even talked to them so much back then.

Anyway, we were seated in Xavier Hall. Across it is Gonzaga Hall. Adjacent to them is Berchmans hall. Think of an equilateral triangle. These three buildings are laid out on the three points of the polygon.

The area in the middle of the three buildings is similar to one UP landmark: the Sunken Garden. Only this one in Ateneo is a miniature version. The Garden is an open grass field in the UP Diliman campus. Around the Sunken Garden, if one will draw a triangle, are the University Main Library, the Malcolm Hall, and the Benitez Hall. The latter two buildings house the College of Law and the College of Education, respectively.

Gonzaga Hall is like UP’s CASAA. It’s the school canteen. Xavier Hall, on the other hand, is like UP’s Office of the University Registrar. Berchmans Hall, I don’t know what it is. I couldn’t tell from purely observing students entering and exiting it. I guess it contains classrooms.

See the similarity? Rectangular open space surrounded by important buildings. Only different in size.

But the last similarity I saw that really reminded me of the Sunken Garden was the structure right across Berchmans. It was like a big shed, with three brown 5-ft x 3-ft tables. It was like the Grandstand in Sunken, only smaller. And cleaner. Or maybe it just looked cleaner because it was smaller. I couldn’t tell.

Amazing, I thought, how uncanny the resemblance was. I never thought a Sunken Garden would exist some place else besides UP Diliman. It was smaller, sure, but it was similar in form. And that was when I realized how much UP and Ateneo can be alike: when it comes to citizens they produce, to the semestral strucutre (as compared to La Salle’s trimestral form), and as I saw here, even in infrastructure. UP and Ateneo really are neighbors.

But don’t mention basketball. That’s an altogether different topic.

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