Movies & TV

How Many of These Movies Filmed in the University of the Philippines Have You Seen?

The country’s premiere state university has been witness to many stories of love and friendship not only in real life, but also on-screen.
IMAGE Swagsimply | Wikimedia Commons
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The University of the Philippines is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque universities in the country, what with its classic, formidable buildings surrounded by big acacia trees that cast shade over sprawling lush gardens. It's a favorite hangout by many people, not just its students, and has been photographed countless times over the years. 

But the country’s top state university not only stands as a silent witness to stories of love, pain, and friendships in real life, it has also been the site of several stories that have come to life through movies that were shot on its grounds.

In fact, in 2013 the University of the Philippines itself hosted an exhibit of movies filmed on campus grounds since 1949. It was called “The Celluloid Campus: The University of the Philippines in the Cinematic Imagination,” and was organized by the UP Diliman Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (UPD OICA).

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"UP Diliman is a sentimental place… everyone who has walked through the halls [has had] certain bodies of memory invested in the spaces of UP Diliman,” the Tinig ng Plaridel quoted Dr. Gerard Rey Lico, the exhibit curator. (TNP is the official student publication of the UPD College of Mass Communication).

This list, on the other hand, is nowhere near complete. With the university having been founded in 1908, many more stories have no doubt been recorded on film and have been seen by generations of moviegoers than those that appear here.

So for a brief nostalgic ride, especially for those who attended the university and have called it home, here are a few movies that have been shot or been set at the UP campus from the early ‘80s until today.

1| Mangarap Ka (1995) by Rory B. Quintos

Picture the UP Diliman campus in the ‘90s: the iconic Palma Hall and the AS steps, the Main Library packed with students in stonewashed outfits, and the old UP Track Oval before it got its much-needed rehabilitation. This film featured it all.

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Mark Anthony Fernandez and Claudine Barretto were at the peak of their stardom when they starred in this 1995 slice-of-life, romance-drama movie about childhood best friends who had to move to Manila for college. It is perhaps one of the best films-to-watch to induce college nostalgia for UP students.

2| Moral (1982) by Marilou Diaz-Abaya

Moral’s use of the UP campus as its setting is something more symbolic.

Directed by celebrated feminist director Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Moral is a thought-provoking film that tells the story of four liberal-minded women during the height of Martial Law. It tackles the struggles of these women and realistically portrays it through scenes inside UPD's classrooms and on the iconic AS steps.

The film starred four of the most popular actresses at the time: Gina Alajar, Lorna Tolentino, Sandy Andolong and Anna Marin. It was digitally restored and remastered by the ABS-CBN Film Restoration in 2017.

3| Dekada ‘70 (2002) by Chito S. Roño

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There is no UP without student activism. The university has seen a lot of student-led protests in its more than 110 years of existence, and activism—in any form—is deeply ingrained in its history.

This film lets viewers take a peek inside this part of the university's history. Set in the regime of the  late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Dekada ‘70 discusses the story of the Bartolome family and how they lived through Martial Law. A scene where a protest joined by Jules Bartolome Jr., one of the sons and played by Piolo Pascual, was set in the university grounds.

4| Dagitab (2014) by Giancarlo Abrahan

Going on a placid, laid-back pace, the film’s cinematography matches the serene and peaceful scenery of the UP Diliman campus on a typical mellow weekday afternoon.

This film beautifully tells the story of two married college professors and their middle-aged love story that’s on the verge of falling apart.

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With veteran actors Eula Valdez and Nonie Buencamino’s noteworthy performances, the university  served as a soft backdrop to the film's organic and poetic story.

5| Alone/Together (2019) by Antoinette Jadaone

This is about the story of college sweethearts Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil and their reunion five years after their breakup.

With Liza’s character Christine hailing from UP, the two reminisce their time together spent mostly in the shade of big acacia trees in the university while sharing their hopes and dreams for the future.

This movie proved to be a box-office success, earning more than P123 million in just four days, according to reports.

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Bonus

While these films were not set in UP Diliman, they were filmed on two other and equally scenic UP campuses—Baguio and Los Baños.

6| Labs Kita, Okey Ka Lang? (1998) by Jerry Lopez Sineneng

Remember the famous line, “Oh yes kaibigan mo ako, kaibigan mo lang ako… And I’m so stupid to make the biggest mistake of falling in love with my best friend!”? Yes, this line was dropped by Jolina Magdangal, a teen icon in the ‘90s. 

Like Mangarap Ka, Labs Kita, Okey Ka Lang? tells the story of two longtime best friends who end up harboring affection for each other while studying in college. The movie was set in Baguio City, with some of the scenes filmed inside the university.

7| Campus Girls (1995) by Mac Alejandre

This film shows how the beauty of the University of the Philippines’ campus in Laguna is not far from its counterparts in Quezon City and Baguio.

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Campus Girls tells the story of four college friends and their everyday lives as students, from fighting off other jeepney riders during the morning commute to school to dealing with boys they meet on campus.

Each uniquely delightful on their own, the four girls make their way through college together and how they manage to keep their friendship intact despite the odds. 

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Pauline Macaraeg
Esquire Philippines
Pauline is Esquire Philippines’ data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg.
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