For over 90 years, the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning have been a top destination of visitors near and far. On Sunday, June 9, the Philippine Room will officially add to the list of a collection of rooms that represent cultures and heritages from around the world.
The Philippine Nationality Room’s dedication aligns with Pagdiriwang, the annual celebration of Philippine independence. On Sunday, a ceremony will take place in Heinz Memorial Chapel, followed by a cultural festival filled with music, dance performances and traditional Filipino food in the Commons Room in the Cathedral of Learning. Free tours will also be offered of all 31 Nationality Rooms.
See the full schedule of events for the June 9 dedication of the Philippine Nationality Room.
“One of the most important aspects of the room is to showcase Filipino hospitality,” said Tina Purpura, fundraising chair of the Philippine Nationality Room Task Force. “We want people to come into this room and feel that they are at home.” The Philippine Nationality Room Task Force, a group composed of seven members of the local Filipino community, oversaw planning and fundraising for the room — an effort that took nearly two decades. At the dedication ceremony, a presentation of the room key will symbolize the Task Force gifting the room to the University.
The task force enlisted architect of record Warren Bulseco and Manila-based room designer Melinda “Popi” Laudico to model the room after the Quema house in Vigan. The room reflects the Bahay na Bato style of architecture, which translates to “house of stone,” to make a sturdy home that can outlast typhoons, earthquakes and floods that regularly impact the islands.
A colorful mural by Philippine-born artist Eliseo Art Silva adorns the walls and ceiling, telling a story of Filipino culture and religion. The room’s prominent bay windows are covered in capiz, actual oyster shells, that are widely used in the Philippines in place of window shutters.
“The Philippine Room is particularly special because it is the first Nationality Room representing a former United States territory that is now an independent country,” said Maryann Sivak, assistant to the director of the Nationality Rooms Program in the University Center for International Studies.
The Philippine Room marks the first to be dedicated since 2015. It is also the 12th room to be dedicated since E. Maxine Bruhns, director of the Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs, began leadership of the rooms in 1965.
Established in 1926 by then-Chancellor John Bowman, Pitt’s Nationality Rooms are representative of — and pay tribute to — the cultural groups that settled Allegheny County. The rooms are located on the first and third floors of the Cathedral of Learning and are used as functioning classrooms. Pitt’s Nationality Rooms are maintained and supported through a partnership between the local populations of these cultural groups and the University of Pittsburgh.