ON JANUARY 16, 1928, the very first Varsitarian issue hit the news stands. The 12 page-issue was sold for 10 centavos and was more of a literary paper than journalistic sheet.

The Varsitarian’s maiden issue was a dream come true. And with the Thomasians’ kind of University spirit, it did not take long for today’s leading Philipppine school paper to carve its own niche.

In the first editorial, “Confession of Faith,” written by the paper’s first editor in chief, Pablo Anido, the Varsitarian said its primary intention was the pursuit of student democracy.

“The Varsitarian will be an independent organ of opinion of ‘students’ wherein they can express their ideas regarding vital questions in this University,” the editorial said.

According to Anido, the organ, under the supervision of the UST Literary Club where he was president, would serve as a medium where the students could express their ideas and opinions on issues affecting the University.

He emphasized that though the Varsitarian aimed to establish a good relations among students, alumni, and faculty members, it would not allow itself to be an instrument of any group or anyone.

Inside the paper

The Varsitarian today very much reflects the first issue of the paper, with its regular news, features, literary, and sports sections. At that time, there was also a Spanish section, Pagina Cervantina, which was later called El Universitario, and opinion columns with amusing titles like “Beauty Secrets,” “What is Charm?”, “The Philosophy of Women,” and “Our Beauty Question Box.” The layout was creative, grabbing the readers’ eyes.

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Elizabeth Bowers, UST Literary Club’s assistant business manager and secretary, and one of the pioneers of the paper, was editor of the Coeds section. On the other hand, Olimpia Baltazar, the granddaughter of Francisco Baltazar, the Father of Tagalog poetry, was editor of the Literary section.

A collection of the legends in the country had always been a dream for Jose Villa Panganiban, generally acknowledged as the Father of the Varsitarian. He wanted to encourage the Thomasian community to join him in conserving the nation’s legends and folklore to protect the national heritage.

In his article, “Collecting Legends,” published in the next few issues of the Varsitarian, Panganiban wrote, “Legendary Philippines can only be written by one who possesses the soul of a Filipino.”

Later on, the younger Baltazar’s regular column on legends and folklore was compiled in a book, Philippine Legends.

During this time, the staff encountered financial problems. The members practically begged for subscription fees to put the paper to bed. Varsitarian copies were sold as they were released. Out of the 500 copies originally planned, only 200 were released. The University had to pay the Varsitarian’s printing expenses deficit. The paper was a little child struggling to survive.

Sources:

Valik-Varsi Grand Alumni Homecoming 1998 program

Varsitarian History, unpublished manuscript in the Varsitarian, c. 1970’s

The Varsitarian revisited: The first ten years Mary Joy B. Marquicias, 2001. Undergraduate Thesis

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