Rector recounts life before priesthood: ‘I wanted to be a journalist’

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BEFORE choosing the priesthood, Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., then an “ordinary student,” wanted to venture into journalism and broadcasting.

Ang, a consistent part of cream sections during his time at St. Stephen’s High School in Binondo, the first Christian Chinese institution founded in Luzon, where he completed his primary and secondary education, has consistently had a deep appreciation for literature.

“As a kid, I had several dreams,” he said in a Chinoy TV episode. “There was a time when I wanted to be a journalist. There was another when I wanted to be a TV broadcaster.”

Eventually, he entered UST and took up philosophy, a decision he acknowledged as distinct from his Filipino-Chinese classmates.

“I never thought, ‘I want to do business’; I was not like other ‘Chinoys,’” he said.

Ang excelled during his college years. In 1990, he graduated with honors, receiving his philosophy degree with cum laude distinction. In 1994, he achieved magna cum laude status when he earned a licentiate in philosophy from the UST Faculty of Philosophy.

During this time, the then Faculty of Arts and Letters regent, Fr. Efren Rivera, O.P., encouraged Ang to explore the possibility of joining the Dominican Order. This decision was further solidified by his frequent interactions with classmates who were part of the seminary, ultimately leading to his eight-year sojourn in the seminary.

Ang went on to complete his licentiate and bachelor’s degrees in sacred theology with the highest honors, summa cum laude, from the Faculty of Sacred Theology in 1997. He also attained magna cum laude status upon completing his master of arts in religious studies from the Ecclesiastical Faculties in 1999. He also obtained his doctor of philosophy degree as summa cum laude in 2010.

Administrator life

Ang’s heart stayed with the University even after finishing his education. His first assignment was being faculty secretary of the Ecclesiastical Faculties.

Upon completing his PhD, Fr. Ang was appointed as the purchasing director by the UST Rector at that time, Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. He then spent eight years serving in the Office of the Vice Rector.

He assumed the role of the 97th Rector Magnificus of the University during the pandemic-hit 2020. His appointment received approval from the Vatican, in accordance with the requirement set forth by the Congregation for Catholic Education of the Vatican for UST as a pontifical university.

During the early days of his rectorship, Ang said it was challenging to guide the University through the adjustments required by the “new normal.”

“During that time, it was so difficult being an administrator,” he said. “Perhaps all of us were caught unprepared for the pandemic.”

But his commitment to serving the Thomasian community only burned stronger, he said.

“I wanted to help the Thomasian youth by becoming more compassionate, which is one of the values of the University of Santo Tomas,” the Rector said.

Despite his role as Rector, Ang finds great pleasure in continuing to teach. This semester, he is instructing a course on philosophical anthropology.

“Education should be lifelong. You continue to learn from your experiences and also from the people you deal with. The moment that you stop learning is the day that you grow old,” he said. Janica Kate J. Buan

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