The Charles Fuller Baker Memorial Hall, popularly known as the Baker Hall, was turned over to the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (OVCCA) from the Department of Human Kinetics of the College of Arts and Sciences (DHK-CAS) on 1 June 2015.
The Baker Hall was built during the Second World War. It was used by the Japanese as an internment camp in 1943. Because of its socio-historical significance, the then National Historical Institute (now known as the National Historical Commission of the Philippines) declared it as a historic site and installed a historical marker entitled Pook ng Bilangguang Kampo sa Los Baños on 23 February 2005.
To preserve its legacy, the Business Affairs Office of the OVCCA (BAO-OVCCA) will transform the Baker Hall into a Cultural Hub and Recreation Center that will showcase the building’s rich social and historical heritage. Baker Hall is envisioned to have an art and photo gallery, a place for the performing arts and sports, a receiving area for UPLB’s guests, a one-stop-shop carrying products and souvenir items from UPLB, an Alfresco café, and a space for selected concessionaires of agri-industrial products.
“The University’s cultural dance and choral groups, such as the UPLB Choral Ensemble, Harmonya: The String Ensemble of UPLB, and the UPLB Filipiniana Dance Troupe, will also have their niche,” said Prof. Genaro A. Cuaresma, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs and Director of the BAO.
Cuaresma, who had served as Chair of the DHK from 2007-2010, and thus had already managed Baker Hall, also said that the Hall’s facilities are being improved. As a start, the historical Smart-Araneta Coliseum donated its floor parquets made of maple trees to the Baker because of its own historical value. He also reported that the building’s exterior had been recently repainted.
Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias said, “The Baker Hall is a historical place where we will merge science, culture, and the arts while communing with nature.” (Miguel Victor T. Durian)