COMMONWEALTH Avenue was once a dirt road which for some reason cut through the northern portion of the 500-hectare University of the Philippines campus. With only the occasional snake to worry about in the darkness, students would cross it to get to a bar called Butterfly. Commonwealth nowadays is an eight-lane highway serving the many subdivisions that have sprouted in what were once paddy fields, and leading to the House of Representatives, the Batasang Pambansa of martial law days.
Butterfly Bar has morphed into the 20- hectare UP Techno-hub, a joint undertaking of the University of the Philippines and property developer Ayala land. Devoted to developing information technology, the hub also has coffee shops, restaurants and bookstores to which the employees of hub-based companies like IBM could repair for coffee, meals, books, writing implements, newspapers and Web access. UP students and professors who visit the hub for those amenities risk life and limb every time they do so, the entrance to it being accessible by car or taxi from UP’s University Avenue only by crossing four east bound lanes of speeding vehicles, making a u-turn, and immediately cutting across four west-bound lanes down which trucks and busses barrel at breakneck speeds.