I lost them in quick succession.
The CASAA Food Centre was the first to go, in a fire in 2015. Apart from being a named location in a song from one of the Philippines’ most iconic bands (and a personal favourite), CASAA was one of my main haunts as a freshie in UP Diliman. Palma Hall — or AS, for short — was next door and it was where all our GE subjects were held. I lived steps away too, in a campus residence hall nearly as old as my mother. The CASAA steps was where I could get my favourite monay with cheese, sold in large, white Styrofoam coolers to keep the bread warm.
The following year, the UP Faculty Centre also burned down. My memories in FC were coloured differently, mainly because they had to do with me waiting for papers to be marked, or waiting for grades to be released, or waiting for “prerog” results during a particularly dismal semester when I got nearly zero subjects in CRS Online. (“Prerog” was a manual enlistment process where UP students had to plead with professors to enlist them in a particular class. It was the teacher’s prerogative to give you a class slot — get it?) But I had calmer moments in FC — I walked its halls from time to time, for no particular reason other than I loved how it felt and smelled (earthy like aged wood, with a hint of books). I also remember watching a film screening of the original Ring film there for some reason. It was before the whole craze with Sadako started and the film was still relatively obscure. I left FC in the dark, properly terrified.
Then, as if the loss of two beloved campus buildings wasn’t enough to sate the fire’s hunger, in 2018 the UP Shopping Centre or SC also went up in flames. You must understand, I lived mostly on campus for a good five years so the loss of SC hit particularly hard. My memories here were more mundane — SC was where I shopped for small essentials, photocopied my 1×1 photo in one big sheet for all that semester’s index cards, ate my fill of tapsilog at Rodic’s, bought my first UP t-shirt and hoodie, and photocopied accounting standards in bulk (with apologies to the copyright gods, but we were just students back then). Small day to day stuff. Then again, memory is made up of these small moments.
All three — gone.
Today, I found out that The Chocolate Kiss Café at the Bahay ng Alumni (a.k.a. Choco Kiss) was closing its doors for good due to losses driven by Covid-19. No school, no students. No students, no customers.
We went to Choco Kiss when we were feeling fancy and had extra pocket money — Choco Kiss, with their bottomless iced teas that came with a separate syrup glass, decadent cake slices (the marshmallow crests on their Devil’s Food Cake!), my usual Chicken Kiev and his usual BBQ baby back ribs. I remember they used to serve one of my favourite appetisers — rumaki, made from water chestnuts and chicken liver wrapped in bacon and fried. They sometimes had a piano going and had paintings from local artists on the walls. Like I said, it felt special, for near-broke university students like us.
Now the feeling — like the places — exists only in memory.
Think critically dear readers,