Earlier this week, The Chocolate Kiss Cafe announced that they would be closing permanently after 23 years. The announcement came as a shock to the UP Diliman community, because for many students, faculty, and alumni, the cafe had been an integral part of their university experience. But for those of us who graduated five or more years ago, The Chocolate Kiss Cafe is just the latest in a growing list of UP landmarks that have disappeared since we last wore our sablays. Feel like getting a nostalgia-packed punch, right in the feels? Then read on.
The Chocolate Kiss Cafe
There was once a time when The Chocolate Kiss Cafe at the Bahay ng Alumni was one of the very few actual restaurants on campus. It had table service. Each glass of their home-brewed iced tea came with its own little pot of honey. And sometimes, if you were lucky, you’d even get treated to live music. Affectionately called ChocKiss by iskos and iskas, this wasn’t a place most students could afford to eat at regularly, but it was the go-to spot for first dates, post-exam celebrations, or those glorious just-got-my-allowance-so-time-to-YOLO days (which were inevitably followed by weeks of living on pancit canton and Sky Flakes).
Although ChocKiss’ Bahay ng Alumni location may be permanently closed, their Fairview commissary is still open, so you can still order favorites like their Devil’s Food Cake for special occasions (or just for when you’re feeling peckish — why not?). Contact them here.
The OG Beach House
Long queues would form outside this wooden shack just outside the Main Library at lunchtime, but it was always worth the wait (provided that you didn’t have a 1pm class), because (1) the food was cheap; and (2) the food was good. Think two sticks of barbecue with rice, and on the side, ensaladang talong and salted egg. Add a cold bottle of your favorite soda and what more could you want?
But this unassuming canteen wasn’t just a place to get barbecue, it was where many friendships were forged and strengthened. It helped that most would enjoy their Beach House meals at the outdoor dining area, in the shade of towering trees. The place just fostered good, chill vibes, making it the perfect venue to make great memories.
In 2014, after almost 3o years in operation, Beach House was evicted from its location near the Sunken Garden by the UP Diliman administration, which cited possible health risks due to nearby open drainage. Beach House has since moved to a location just outside UP. The experience won’t be exactly the same, of course, but the food is just as good. You can find it at 21A H.R. Ocampo, Diliman (here it is on Google Maps).
Located between PHAN (Palma Hall Annex, the Department of Psychology’s building) and AS (Palma Hall), the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association Food Center — commonly known as CASAA — was one of the busiest place on campus come lunchtime. A food court-esque canteen that gave students plenty of variety, iskos and iskas from all over the campus would flock here on their way to and from their GE subjects to grab a quick bite to eat — and it really would be a quick bite to eat, because as soon as you shoveled the last spoonful of your lunch into your mouth, one of the custodians would swoop in from out of nowhere to clean up your spot, giving you your cue to leave.
But outside of the insane lunchtime rush, CASAA was a place to meet up with friends and simply spend some time in between classes. For many, CASAA was a part of their daily routine. Ask any UP alumnus and they’d probably still be able to recall their favorite CASAA stall. So you can imagine just how devastated the UP community was when, in 2015, the CASAA food center burned down due to a suspected gas leak.
The Duckpin Bowling Alley at the Alumni Center
Get a small group of UP alumni together and chances are at least one of them took duckpin bowling. Back in the day (we’re talking pre-2015), duckpin bowling was one of UP’s most popular PE classes, probably because of the comparatively large amount of slots.
Anybody who’s taken the class can tell you that your class performance was completely dependent on the lane that you were given — they weren’t exactly flat, so your ball was prone to swerving and going straight for the legs of the men at the back of the alley (who were there to manually place the duckpins and roll back the balls to the players). Though the duckpin bowling alley at the UP Alumni Center wasn’t exactly glamorous (very few, if any, UP locations would qualify as such), it was charming and was a memorable part of many alumni’s university life.
Sadly, students today will no longer be able to share this experience, as the place burned down in 2015, shortly after the CASAA blaze.
The Shopping Center
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For UP students, the Shopping Center (or just SC) was a magical place where you could get almost anything done. If you needed to:
- write a paper,
- get copies of your class readings,
- do research for your thesis,
- photocopy an entire textbook in color,
- print out publicity materials for your org’s event,
- update your Friendster profile,
- get your eyes checked,
- get your nails done,
- shop for new clothes,
- buy your sablay,
- buy secondhand books,
- buy pirated DVDs,
- get school supplies,
- get a cheap meal,
then SC probably had something for you. It was such a convenient place to get things done that it was also frequented by students from other schools.
A bona fide UP institution since it was built in the ’70s, the SC was a huge part of every UP student’s life, so when it burned down in 2018 — soon after it had been renovated — the entire UP community was heartbroken. Many of the concessionaires have moved to other locations, but nothing still compares to SC.
The OG Rodic’s
Though it was located at the Shopping Center, Rodic’s deserves its own spot in this list, as it’s a UP icon. Named after the founder’s grandsons (Rodolfo and Dic), Rodic’s first opened way back in 1949 and was one of the first concessionaires of the Shopping Center. Its most well-known dish is its generously-portioned beef tapsilog, which was introduced to the store’s menu in the 1980s.
Rodic’s became so successful that they were able to open more locations around Metro Manila, each branch shinier and more stylish than the last. But there was something special about that first, humble location in the SC. Even after graduating, many UP alumni would come back to the Rodic’s at the SC just to experience that surge of nostalgia. Now that the location’s gone, we can at least order the famous tapsilog at their other branches, close our eyes, and pretend that we’re back in the UP of our yester-youth again.
The Faculty Center
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Not all students had much to do with the UP Faculty Center. Some smaller classes were held there, but unless you had a consultation or a symposium or readings to pick up, there was very little reason for most undergraduate students to visit the FC. But the Faculty Center was the heart of the College of Art and Letters and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. It wasn’t just where professors would mark exams and prepare their lesson plans, but was also the repository of so many priceless works that documented and shaped Philippine culture.
Though the ordinary Filipino may not understand the full weight of this tragedy, when the Faculty Center burned down in 2016 (yes, yet another fire), the blaze took unpublished academic papers, out-of-print books, works of art, and historical artifacts. Nobody was hurt, but the life’s work of many academics was gone, just like that. To this day, the Philippine academe is still reeling from the loss.
The OG UP Swimming Pool
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Once upon a time, all UP students were required to take a swimming class at the iconic UP Diliman Swimming Pool. When students were finally given the freedom to pick their subjects, those who still chose to enroll in a water-related class (skin diving, scuba, fin-swimming, etc.) came here at least once a week, swimming laps to the smell of grilled onions that wafted from Khas, the Persian restaurant next door. The decades-old pool was run-down for years, but it was the home of the UP Varsity Swimming Team and was beloved by many.
The UP Diliman Swimming Pool was closed in 2019 for long-overdue renovation, but will be transformed into a recreational pool as part of the UP Hotel’s amenities. PE classes and the UP Varsity Swimming Team will be relocated to a new Olympic-sized pool, which is currently under construction at the College of Human Kinetics.
Which of these UP icons do you miss the most? Did we miss some on our list? Tell us all about it in the comments.