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UP community mourns all-in-one PHILCOA stores: study area, meeting place, party venue

By Ratziel San Juan Published Feb 02, 2023 3:56 pm

The University of the Philippines (UP) community is no stranger to losing locations that are so central to university life. When the CASAA Food Center, Faculty Center, and UP Shopping Center went up in smoke, we grieved more than just buildings that housed helpful activities, products, and services.

There were other things we lost in the fire, such as core memories. Now, we bid farewell to another local hotspot.

The hub of establishments along the UP Diliman-bound side of Commonwealth that we collectively refer to as “PHILCOA” is now disappearing—gradually but all the same.

End of an era

As of writing, Jollibee, 7-Eleven, Red Ribbon, KFC, Mang Inasal, Chow King, Mister Donut, and Mercury Drug PHILCOA have all closed down.

These stores have served countless functions to resourceful students.

Alumnus Jules Guiang tells PhilSTAR L!fe that Jollibee PHILCOA, for instance, had served as a "default meeting place" for out-of-town trips with classmates.

Similarly, CAL graduate and volunteer teacher Micah Simon told L!fe that Jollibee was a usual meeting place before basic masses integrations or community visits.

Guiang, who occasionally visited the fast food joint since 2009, added that the store's front had even been a meeting point for demonstrations, especially during SONA.

Slice of life

Likewise, Jollibee and its neighbors served more laidback purposes. For one, these were convenient meetup points for group work, org meetings, and even dates.

Now Assistant Professor Joshua Agar recalls biking to PHILCOA for midnight snacks.

"I always remember that not-so-fond memory the most there," Agar told L!fe, in reference to Jollibee, where he once detailed a bad romantic experience through the Narinig Ko Sa UP (Overheard At UP) Facebook group.

For some, PHILCOA was literally a lifesaver.

Simon had frequented Mercury Drug as much as thrice a week to run meds and other urgent needs.

Gone but not forgotten

UP Diliman Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Development Raquel Florendo, in a report, cited major factors for the changes in the PHILCOA area, particularly Citi Mall.

“It is something to do with safety and the major development… Safety that was already on the part of the local government, so that is already uncompromisable… In terms of retrofitting the building, it may not be anymore viable considering that there will be developments in the area related to MRT-7… They're going to build already the area where the pedestrians will go up from the terminal,” Florendo said.

That being said, PHILCOA will remain as a relic of a bygone era.

One that has serviced many Iskolar ng Bayan for years and years before the pandemic.

With the closure of establishments like Jollibee PHILCOA, we hope that we can also find closure in the passing of a location once so central to university life.