“WE GRADUATED bachelor of arts or science, but we majored in Varsitarian.” This was the running joke of the national artists, journalists, writers, media professionals, scholars, industry leaders, and other stellar alumni of the Varsitarian during the 90th anniversary celebration of the country’s most influential campus newspaper last Jan. 20.

More than 300 “V” alumni gathered for a night of reminiscences and warm fellowship at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Alumni Center Building to celebrate “Valik Varsi,” the grand alumni homecoming of the Varsitarian.

National Artists for Literature F. Sionil José and Bienvenido Lumbera were among the many literature titans who graced the event. José is the Varsitarian’s 23rd editor in chief, serving from 1948 to 1949. Lumbera, who became literary editor in the 1950’s, led the cake-cutting ceremony. Other National Artists alumni of the ‘V’ are Cirilo Bautista (literary editor) and the late J. Elizalde Navarro (art director).

“The Varsitarian has contributed a great deal in the development of student journalism,” Lumbera told Varsitarian staffers during the reunion.

Other well-known alumni in the literary field present were UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies director Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Philippine High School for the Arts director Vim Nadera, and Filipinas Institute of Translation president Michael Coroza.

Alumni journalists who attended included former New York Times correspondent Alice Colet-Villadolid, Manila Times columnist and former senator Francisco Tatad, communications scholar Crispin Maslog, Manila Bulletin-Tempo entertainment editor Nestor Cuartero, Inquirer columnists Rina Jimenez-David and Rafael Castillo, BizNewsAsia founder and president Antonio “Tony” Lopez, former CBCP Monitor editor in chief Jesselynn Garcia De La Cruz, poetess and former broadcast journalist Rita Gaddi, ANC host Christian Esguerra and broadcast personality Lourd de Veyra.

Villadolid, former news writer of the ‘V’, praised the publication for upholding “good student press freedom.”

“The Varsitarian editors and advisers have fought for good student press freedom [even] though there are certain restrictions in a Catholic university,” she said.

“In the midst of challenges, the ‘V’ has performed its work as chronicler and opinion-maker and creative fermenter so much so that it’s considered as the foremost campus paper in the country,” said ABS-CBN corporate communications head Kane Errol Choa.

Choa along with his mentor and predecessor at ABS-CBN, veteran media practitioner Ramon “Bong” Osorio, hosted the event. Choa was a features writer of the Varsitarian in 1994 while Osorio was assistant Filipino editor in 1974.

Radyo Veritas anchor Fr. Nicanor “Nick” Lalog, and former UST vice rector Fr. Virgilio Ojoy, O.P. concelebrated the Thanksgiving Mass. Lalog served as sports writer in 1986 while Ojoy was associate editor in 1979.

Former ‘V’ adviser Sister Regina Kuizon, the Philippine provincial of the Good Shepherd Sisters and the chair of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, led the invocation, which featured a video requiem for ‘V’ alumni who had passed away.

The UST Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Conservatory of Music professor Herminigildo Ranera, led the countdown to the ‘V’ centennial in 2028 with a rendition of “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The UST Singers also treated the alumni to such classics as “Hallelujah” from Handel’s “Messiah.”

Although the ‘V’ alumni have gone to different paths after their stints in the publication, the memories they made are still alive in their hearts until today.

“My Varsitarian stint was one of the most fulfilling moments of my student life,” said foremost business journalist and publisher Antonio Lopez, a former ‘V’ managing editor. “It prepared me for life after college, for serious work of journalism both in the Philippines and abroad.”

“The training in ‘V’ is probably the best in the Philippines,” De Veyra said.
Maslog, who was news editor in 1961, called his Varsitarian experience “fun despite the challenges.”

“Fun to be with friends of alike interests; fun to be with them and joke around while you’re doing the newspaper,” Maslog explained.

“Aside from being fun, it was a learning experience. I learned a lot working with the staff and at the same time, it was ego-boosting. It made you important,” the veteran media scholar said.

Cuartero, who lectures in the Faculty of Arts and Letters and is a fellow at the CCWLS, visited the old location of the Varsitarian office at the UST Main Building in a video presentation. Cuartero was “V” managing editor in 1974.

“I am happy that the Varsitarian spirit has lived and even improved and became stronger through the years,” Cuartero said. “[The] friendship, camaraderie and a sense of family has strengthened through the years.”

Devrite, Inc. vice president Andy Saracho recalled how proud he was for being part of the Varsitarian at the time when the Marcos regime was nearing its end.

“[The Varsitarian] was very active then in coverage of what’s going on in the Philippine society. [There was] civilian unrest, rallies, demonstrations, street activities,” he said.

The video also featured memoirs from Woman Today editor in chief Rosalinda de Leon, award-winning film director Alberto Monteras II, Eggshell Worldwide Com Inc. president Mark Pahate and managing and PR director Charmaine Pidal-Pahate. Ojoy and Nadera also spoke on the video.

Some prominent V alumni include Inquirer founder Eugenia Duran Apostol; Chief Justice Andres Narvasa; Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson; Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez; Sorsogon Gov. Juan Frivaldo; former UST rectors Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P. and Fr. Norberto

Castillo, O.P.; visual artists Danny Dalena and Remy Boquiren; PLDT senior VP and treasurer Jun Florencio; former presidential adviser Ronald Llamas; former Manila Arzobispado media head Corazon Yamsuan; Archbishop Artemio Casas; former Mindanao State University VP for research Sister Delia Coronel, ICM; Philippine Medical Association president Vicente Rosales Sr.; press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr; Paz Latorena; Celso Carunungan; Felix Bautista; Gloria Garchitorena-Goloy; Leticia Buhay; Rogelio Sicat; and Ophelia Dimalanta. J. C. B. OCAYA


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