Philippine Nationality Room

As you approach the  University of Pittsburgh from downtown, don’t be surprised if you suddenly see an imposing Gothic-styled building rising majestically against the horizon. This is the Cathedral of Learning. Standing 42 stories high, this structure is considered to be the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere. Within this building are the Nationality Rooms – a collection of 30 unique classrooms from around the globe, modeled with painstaking detail. Dedicated to Pittsburgh’s ethnic homelands and cultures, these rooms are decorated in those distinctive styles.

Pittsburgh’s Filipino-American community has undertaken the project of creating a Philippine Nationality Room (PNR) for itself. The project is led by the PNR Task Force composed of representatives from the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh, the Philippine American Medical Society, and the Philippine American Performing Arts of Greater Pittsburgh , and led by Fr. Manny Gelido.

In pursuit of the best design for the classroom, Professor Fernando Zialcita , co-author of “Philippine Ancestral Houses”, led us to the Bahay na Bato (Stone House). Like all other rooms, this design is representative of the era prior to 1787, the year the university was founded. Extensive research brought us to the Quema House, one of the Heritage Houses in the town of Vigan in the Philippines. This beautiful house inspired the design of  Architect Popi Laudico.

The time has  come to bring the PNR to a satisfying conclusion. Having finally achieved the funding target of $500,000, room construction started in May 2018.  As of this writing, the whitewashed wooden walls and ceiling are in place; the wide planked floors are ready for staining; the capiz shell windows have been delivered together with the balustrades (for the ventanillas) and two cabinets for artifacts display; and the artwork by Filipino artist Eliseo Silva on the ceiling and one wall is complete. The antique chandelier is ready for installation while the other furniture pieces – the solihiya chairs, the wooden lectern, and wooden credenza – are in process.

The room  is scheduled to be ready for a Dec 1, 2018 blessing ceremony by Fr Manny Gelido. All Presidents of the three organizations constituting the PNR Task Force will be invited along with a few University officials.

The  Nationality Room open house will be held December 2, 2018. All are invited.  For many , this will be the first time that the Filipino room will be available for viewing.

Save the date for the June 9, 2019 Dedication Day consisting of the following events;

  • Heinz Chapel  at 2 PM – University Turnover ceremony;
  • Commons Room, Cathedral of Learning  at 3 – 5 PM – Pagdiriwang Celebration to include tour  of Filipino Room
  • Heinz Chapel at 5 PM – Mass
  • Pitt Alumni Hall at 6:15 onwards – Formal Dinner & Program