Far Eastern University is one unique institution that had molded hundreds of thousands of its alumni, employees and even passerby to the campus vicinity. This institution had preserved its unique architectural heritage which earned 1st runner-up mention during the 2005 UNESCO – for the largest and best preserved Art Deco architecture ensemble in the entire country. Various national artists like Vicente Manansala, Pablo Ocampo Sr., Carlos “Botong ” Francisco, Antonio Dumlao , Robert Ko and international artists like Italian sculptor Francesco Monti made its lasting contributions to the university.
But, silent testimonies to the university history are its living natural heritage found inside its main campus located inside Nicanor Reyes Sr. street (formerly Morayta). Several trees like acacia (Samanea saman) and narra (Pitherocarpus indicus ) were carefully planted and nurtured by its founding president Dr. Nicanor Reyes Sr .in the early 1930’s. During convocation in the university before the outbreak of war, the late President Manuel L. Quezon visited the university in 1940 and paid unsolicited tribute to Dr. Reyes “ as an educational builder”. The trees were already several years old back then and the student population is more than 10,000. Then during the early part of the bombing of the Philippines in 1941, Dr. Reyes was only person among the officials of the university to visit the school every morning to check the school premises and usually hands over the keys of the post office inside the school compound.
When the Japanese brought chaos to the country, The Imperial army had occupied the school compound and the school was crisscrossed with foxholes and the whole place was enclosed with barbed wire. The university became a veritable prison and was made a headquarter of the Kempetai (Japanese military police) the trees were the silent hostages, the army used some of the branches as firewood or bonfires which lighted the campus grounds since there was lacked of electricity.
On February 5, 1945 at around 7:00 pm heavy bombing and air raid were rampant in the Sampaloc area. Battle was ranged in the vicinity as the Japanese in heavily fortified campus sternly opposed the American advance. When the American occupied the university the school was re-opened during the second semester in 1945 .the Americans also set up quonset huts at the quadrangle which was later converted into classrooms. The trees were also there to witness the university rise in the ashes of the war.
After the war, some trees still stood within the campus, while some of the trees were toppled down by typhoons that had hit Manila during the 1960’s and 1970’s. These trees were also there when then president Cory had visited the campus in 1987 .
present day- FEU chapel with narra trees
Somehow trees do tell stories of happy individuals, students who stayed under their canopy, famous personalities and common people who happily stayed under these old majestic trees inside the campus that is not only known for its architectural heritage but also living natural heritage that one will surely become a link to a distant past.
The university also had a guided tours around the campus which attracts art , environment , architecture and heritage advocates for more information:
Address: Nicanor Reyes Sr. Street ( formerly Morayta) Sampaloc, Manila
Telephone : 735-56 21 loc. 283 Alumni Affairs ( Mr. Martin Lopez)
Monday to Friday -Office Hours