Courtesy Visit of the Harvard Philippine Forum to the University of the Philippines


by Ivan Monasterial

As part of their annual January J-term trek to the Philippines, the Harvard Philippine Forum (HPF) visited the University of the Philippines (UP) last January 5-16, 2024. This year’s trip will have 3 core elements: education, service, and culture to develop a deeper understanding of Filipino education, its rich and diverse culture, and the way of life in Manila and Dumaguete.

The student representatives of HPF were received by the Office of International Linkages, its Deputy Director, Dr. Noel Christian A. Moratilla, and UP Vice President for Academic Affairs (Student Affairs), VP Shari Niña Oliquino.

Students of the HPF were toured around campus, showcasing the green spaces of UP Diliman’s campus grounds. During the tour, the students expressed deep appreciation for the university’s openness to its community members to use the green spaces for recreational activities, academic or non-academic related.

After, an exploratory meeting was held at the 4th Floor BOR, discussing how the culture of education and the institution’s values have evolved over the years, especially in the most recent decade where large-scale digitalization has taken place in the Philippines. VP Oliquino shared with the forum that there will be continuous efforts to digitalize, as the university’s 2024 thrust is to become a global university.

The forum also discussed how UP views its role in education at a national scale and what civic responsibilities it hopes to uphold as an educational organization. VP Oliquino responded that despite being a national university, regulated and mandated by the government, UP students will always be vocal on political and social issues, constantly lobbying for the greater good of the country. Dr. Moratilla added that the character of UP graduates has always been on the politically vocal side, heading the revolutionary efforts during Martial Law under the Marcos Sr. administration. To enrich the discussion further, UPD Council and College reps also attended and deepened the discussion.

The visit ended with a courtesy dinner, with HPF expressing their gratitude through a gift and as a symbol of friendship, hopeful that the next generation of HPF students will return to UP. The Harvard Philippine Forum (HPF) offers the Harvard campus community a glimpse of Filipino culture. With its social and educational events and the camaraderie it offers, it provides its members with a uniquely Filipino Harvard experience.