Philippine Nationality Room dedicated with pomp and pageantry

After nearly 20 years of planning, the Philippine Nationality Room opened with flair on June 8.

A day of activities included a formal dedication at Heinz Chapel and Philippine-inspired entertainment and food in the Common Room at the Cathedral of Learning.

The task force, composed of seven members of the local Filipino community, led the planning and fundraising efforts to create the room, according to PittWire. This involved more than 20 years of organizing — including trips to the Philippines for design inspiration.

The new room is reflective of the typical homes of Philippine ancestors, said Tina Purpura, fundraising chair of the Philippine Nationality Room Task Force, who immigrated to the United States from Manila in 1981.

“We want visitors to feel the Filipino hospitality immediately when they enter this room, which reminds me of my grandparents’ home,” she said. “The room really does tell a story of our Filipino culture.”

Architect of record Warren Bulseco and Manila-based room designer Melinda “Popi” Laudico modeled the room after the Quema house in Vigan, Philippines. The room reflects the Bahay na Bato style, which translates to “house of stone,” to make a sturdy home that can outlast the typhoons, earthquakes and floods that regularly impact the islands.

Established in 1926 by then-Chancellor John Bowman, Pitt’s 31 Nationality Rooms are representative of many of the cultural groups that settled Allegheny County.



  • Hundreds attended the dedication and celebration of the new Philippine Nationality Room on June 9. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • In the Heinz Memorial Chapel ceremony, task force chair Manny Gelido, chaplain in Hispanic Ministries at two West Virginia Roman Catholic parishes, presented a key to Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, symbolizing the gifting of the room to the University. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • People dressed to represent the other 30 Nationality Rooms were on hand for the Philippine room dedication. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Members of the Filipino music ensemble Kinding Sindaw performed several selections just prior to the official dedication ceremony at Heinz Memorial Chapel and later at the celebration in the Cathedral. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Performers presented traditional Filipino dance at the Cathedral of Learning event. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Provost Ann Cudd and Ariel Armony, vice provost for global affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies, took part in the dedication festivities. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Following the dedication ceremony, a parade of Filipino women walking under floral arches led the attendees over to the Cathedral of Learning for a cultural festival. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Dancers in colorful native dress performed a celebration of Philippines heritage at the Cathedral of Learning. Filipino women distributed food like biko, sweet rice cakes cooked in coconut milk; and lumpia, meat filled dumplings, as attendees admired artwork and artifacts lining the Commons Room walls. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)