If New York City has its Central Park, Metro Manila has the UP Diliman campus. No disrespect to Luneta and the QC circle, but in terms of wide and green open spaces, the 493 hectare flagship campus of the State University is unmatched in Metro Manila. The campus is a gigantic garden with tree-lined avenues and wide grassy areas where all sorts of outdoor activities can be held. I am not sure if there’s a place that can compare to it in the Metro.
Bonifacio Global City may have lots of runnable and bikeable pavement, but its small trees hardly provide any shade. Luneta and Roxas Boulevard meanwhile have deteriorated a lot, as evidenced by the seemingly uncollectable trash along the baywalk. If you’re sick of breathing in the brown, oily halitosis of Metro Manila while running or biking, UP Diliman is the best place to go inside the Metro.
Recently, a group of enterprising individuals has even started offering bike tours around UP. The fact that a lot of people have been signing up for the tour just goes to show the potential of this green space for inner city tourism. Outsideslacker has also been getting a lot of search hits for “biking in UP” for several months now. And so I’m writing this as a response to those searches.
If you’re new to UP, and want a DIY run or bike tour of the place, here are some of the routes and spots that you should check out.
The most popular route for running and biking in UP is the academic oval. One loop there is about 2.2 kilometers long. Do four and half loops and that’s already 10k. Thanks to the shade provided by the huge acacia trees lining the oval, it is possible to run or bike there on practically any time of the day. If you get thirsty, there are lots of stalls along the way which sell refreshments and food.
There is also a designated bikers’ and runners’ lane on the oval which motorized vehicles are not allowed to use. This means you don’t have to worry about getting run over by a car while you try to score a PR for your 5k or 10k run. On Sundays, the entire oval is closed off to motorized traffic and becomes one giant playground for runners, bikers, longboard skaters and families who just want to enjoy the shade of the trees.
The Science Complex
This network of buildings doesn’t have as many trees as the oval, but it features short easy climbs for people looking to work on uphill sprints. The wide grassy spaces are also easy on the eyes. Take a detour to some of the walkways near the Math building and you may just stumble on a few Instagram-worthy spots. It’s not everyday you get to see footbridges over a creek under a canopy of trees.
It’s not exactly Shotgun, but doing ten loops of this Hill will still wear you down
This stretch of road just behind the University Hotel is a favorite among local runners and bikers who want a more challenging uphill climb. As far as I know, only runners and bikers refer to it as heartbreak hill.
University Ave Pump Track
This is not really a pump track but why limit your imagination? Ride your bike over the humps of these coconut trees and have loads of fun.
Another great thing about living in U.P is that whenever I feel like doing some wall climbing, the Power Up Tandang Sora gym is just 15 minutes away. I feel fortunate to be living near UP. I just hope that by writing about it, I am not actually contributing to messing it up.
I live in Maginhawa St. right now which is just a sneeze away from the campus. Maginhawa is a great place where lots of bohemian and artsy types live and where a string of indie restos provide good eats. After getting featured on TV and magazines though, I’ve noticed that lots of cars now line up the street, causing a bit of traffic every now and then.
U.P. has lots of facilities that make it a very bike-friendly place. There are bike racks in several areas, bike pumps that you can use in the major dorms courtesy of the UP Mountaineers UP Padyak project, and bike groups who may be able to help you out. For more info, check out this page from iskwiki.edu.