The University Theater Complex was filled with laughter and excitement for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as some 2,000 students attended the first face-to-face Freshman Welcome Assembly (FWA) on Sept. 5.
The FWA is a yearly tradition organized by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (OVCSA) to welcome the freshmen to the campus, introduce them to administration officials, and treat them to performances from homegrown talents from UP Diliman (UPD).
This year, the assembly was held over two sessions—one in the morning and another in the afternoon—following health protocols that required attendees to pre-register, wear masks, and observe physical distancing.
The program began with a video montage introducing the university and highlighting several programs and facilities, making special mention of the UPD Sagip K9 unit and UPD’s emotional support animals.
Kontemporaryong Gamelan Pilipino (Kontra-GaPi), a cappella group ConChords, UP Filipiniana Dance Group, UP Streetdance Club, and the UP Repertory Company all performed live.
UP Varsity Pep Squad was present to teach the students chants and cheers used during University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) games.
Deans and heads of the various academic units shared welcome messages. Chancellor Fidel R. Nemenzo joined the program via Zoom to welcome the freshmen to their upcoming face-to-face classes, the first since 2020. Nemenzo invited the students to explore the environment and soak in campus life at UPD.
“Napakaraming makikita, mararanasan at matututunan sa loob ng UP. Huwag niyo itong sayangin. Ang edukasyon ng UP ay isang uri ng edukasyon na hindi nakakulong sa apat na sulok ng classroom. Marami kayong makikilalang iba’t ibang uri ng tao. Marami kayong maririnig na iba’t ibang ideya at paniniwala,” he said.
The FWA stage design was specially crafted by John Carlo V. Pagunaling, a faculty member at the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts of the UPD College of Arts and Letters. The stage design, entitled Sibol, was inspired by ukkil designs of the Lumad and Moro peoples and the works of French visual artist Henri Matisse.
“Ang disenyo ng entablado ng UPD Freshie Welcome Assembly 2022 ay hango sa konsepto ng pagsibol bilang representasyon ng mga papasok at pausbong na mga bagong iskolar ng bayan. Mga binhi na uusbong sa tamang panahon na magiging matatag, matapang, magaling at malaya. Mga binhi na aalagaan pero hindi papalakihin sa layaw,” he posted on his Facebook account.
Program hosts Jose Monfred Sy and Christine Joy Magpayo—College of Arts and Letters faculty members—also shared stories of their own experiences of student life in UPD.
Festivities. The FWA is only one of several major activities for the whole month of September. The first was the Freshmen Orientation Program, held online via Zoom on Sept. 2, during which the freshmen were introduced to UP culture and student services.
The OVCSA also launched the 2022 edition of its digital handbook of handy resources, study hacks, the latest Code of Student Conduct, and list of places to eat on campus.
Student organizations introduced themselves at the organization and community fair (UP Org Fair), a hybrid event held online and at the Academic Oval from Sept. 5 to 9.
The response to the Tara Na’t Makiikot: UFM 2022 Freshie Tour and Silakbay: 2022 UP Diliman Campus Tours, was so overwhelming that even with three straight days of tours on Sept. 5 (for freshmen), 6, and 7 (for other undergraduate students), organizers had to hold a third walking tour on Sept. 5 to accommodate those who were not able to get slots. Other activities set for freshmen and new students are the following: second edition of the Online Freshie Games (Sept. 12-16), leadership training seminars and workshops (Sept. 15-17), and UFM Culminight, a concert featuring student performers as well as professional music acts (Sept. 30).