I volunteered to write this Philippine Online Chronicles Buhay Pinoy piece because it is a subject close to my heart - my alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas. UST is celebrating four hundred years of unending grace this year (kicking off with the grand Quadricentennial Week festivities last January 24-28, 2011).
Writing this article would serve as my tribute to the University which was my second home in Manila. I had an easy time mustering words because I had the time of my life in UST and the memories were still very vivid. As UST made a huge difference in my life, what could be it's impact to the lives of many Pinoys for 400 years? Read on and find out:
2011 marks the quadricentennial existence of University of Sto. Tomas (UST). Yes, it’s been 400 years since the foundation of the oldest existing university in Asia and the largest (in terms of student population) Catholic university in the world in a single campus. Founded on April 28, 1611, UST was first known as Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario, renamed as Colegio de Santo Tomas and finally called University of Sto. Tomas. It is the second university in the world after the Gregorian University in Vatican to be granted the formal title of Pontifical University. The University just had a grand celebration of its 400 years of unending grace last January 24-28.
What is UST to the Pinoy? UST is both witness and agent of transformation of Filipinos for four centuries spanning from the Spanish colonial times until today’s social media era. The University’s influence and impact to Filipinos is as deeply rooted as the history of the nation. As education is a pathway to nation-building, UST has been to Pinoys what the inscription say on the Arch of the Centuries (a landmark in the campus which was declared by the National Museum as a national treasure together with the green open campus grounds, the Main Building, and the Central Seminary) - “a gateway to the history of the finest breed of Filipinos”
UST’s distinguished alumni include the following: 22 heroes, 9 saints, 7 chief justices, and 4 presidents (as tweeted by @FakeNoynoy). The Filipino heroes and Thomasians who shaped the nation’s destiny were Jose Rizal, Emilio Jacinto, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Apolinario Mabini, Jose Burgos, Felipe Agoncillo and nearly all framers of the Malolos Constitution. The nine saints were the Thomasian martyrs (five of which were martyred in Japan with San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint). The four Philippine Presidents were Manuel Luis Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Jose P. Laurel and Diosdado Macapagal (six Presidents if we include honorary Thomasians Manuel Roxas and Corazon Aquino who were conferred honoris causa degrees by the university). The University also has produced nationalists like Claro M. Recto and Fernando Ma. Guerrero, 4 vice presidents namely Mariano Trías - considered as the first Philippine Vice President, Fernando López, Emmanuel Pelaez and Arturo Tolentino, 7 Chief Justices (the latest being Chief Justice Renato Corona) and 16 National Artists including fellow Dagupeño Victorio Edades and fellow Pangasinense F. Sionil Jose.
F. Sionil Jose with the author, Thomasians both
Happy 400th Birthday UST. 400 years of unending grace!