The University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters in Diliman, Quezon City was established in 1983, as a result of a three-way split of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) for reasons of administrative efficiency. It originated from the College of Philosophy, Science and Letters established in U.P. in 1910. A year later, it was renamed College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It offered degrees in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and serviced the General Education Program.
By 1976, this college had grown to such an extent that it was becoming increasingly difficult to administer and maintain. On 30 September 1976, a Reorganization Plan led to the creation of three divisions: Humanities, the Science, and Social Sciences and Philosophy. The immediate precursor of CAL, the Division of Humanities consisted of five Departments under an Associate Dean. These Departments – the Art Studies, English and Comparative Literature, European Languages, Filipino and Philippine Literature and Speech Communication and Theatre Arts – form the academic core of the College as it stands today.
The Department of English and Comparative Literature (DECL) is the oldest department of CAL. Founded in 1910 as the Department of English, it became the Department of English and Comparative Literature in 1957 when comparative literature courses were added to the curriculum.
The Department of European Languages (DEL) has its roots in several departments, also founded in 1910. Later, the Department of French and German merged to form the Department of Modern Languages, while the Departments of Spanish and Latin merged into the Department of Spanish. All these were eventually unified under the single unit that is the DEL. Today, it has added other European languages, namely Italian, Portuguese and Russian to its curricular offerings.
In 1959, two new departments incubated in the DECL were established as independent units – the Department of Speech Communication and Drama and the Department of Humanities. The first is now known as the Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts’ (DSCTA) and it prepares students for careers in the various fields of communication and develops their expertise in performance and other areas of theater production. The second was renamed Department of Art Studies in 1984. This department focuses on the study of the various expressions of culture and the arts such as painting, sculpture, film and music using traditional and non-traditional paradigms of art theory and criticism.
The Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, the youngest among the departments of CAL, was established in 1966. It aims to develop the Filipino language and other Philippine languages and undertake research on the different ethno-linguistic groups and their literary traditions. Its ultimate goal is a truly relevant, pro-Filipino and nationalist education.
Today, CAL maintains its leadership in arts and letters in the Philippines. The basic functions of the College remain – instruction, research and extension work. It continues to uphold humanistic ideals in the midst of technological advancement, promote arts and letters as instruments of liberation and empowerment, and inculcate values that promote a nationalistic culture.