IT’S EIGHT months to go before the Varsitarian’s 80th anniversary. As I close the last issue of my editorship, let me survey the state of the “V,” and why as one student told us in an e-mail, the Varsitarian is one of the things every Thomasian can be proud of.

You can tell a tree by its fruit. The V’s prestige, which shows in its alumni roster composed of leading artists, journalists, politicians, businessmen, clerics and academicians, is something even non-Thomasians hail. It’s telling enough that this year, we received requests for counsel from editors of other top university papers. And as we kick off our anniversary, the V has been featured on newspapers, on radio, and on television even by non-Thomasians in the media. I recall being interviewed for a documentary by a filmmaker, a former editor in chief of UP’s Collegian, on a subject that draws his interest—how the Varsitarian is vastly different from other student publications.

The difference lies first on the V’s strong relations and network with its alumni, despite the wide generation gaps. Every year, a new staff occupies the V office, but the wealth of experience stays since our alumni continue to give advice and support; they are just a call away. It is something that another former editor of Collegian told me is missing in his and in other publications that could have been a stronghold for these papers in times of trouble. The V alumni homecoming is always staged in grand fashion precisely to serve this purpose.

The second difference lies in the fact that the V is not just a student newspaper. It holds other non-publication activities that enrich knowledge and information such as the Inkblots Campus Journalism Fellowship, the National Campus Investigative Journalism Awards, the Ustetika Literary Workshop and Awards, the Jose Villa Panganiban Lecture, the Pautakan Intercollegiate Quiz Contest, the recent CineVita Film Festival, and other special events.

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We also launched this year the V History Exhibit with the opening of our new office, and compiled an Ustetika literary folio and handbooks for Features and Witness (Religion) writing. In partnership with Kodak, we converted the microfilmed versions of the V issues since 1928 into VCDs, and they will soon be mass-produced in DVD copies. The V has entered the information superhighway with its updated online edition.

Besides these engagements, the Varsitarian has been coming out with more sections, pages, and magazines than other student publications, a fact that perhaps could make our alumni understand why for years the V could not release fortnightly. Although we have better office facilities now, many among our staff also have to juggle outside work and academics since the time Varsitarian members ceased to be entitled to scholarships. Still, the V operates on summers, Sundays, and holidays, come flood and storms, in season and out of season.

The third difference rests on the V’s advocacies and representation. The Varsitarian represents the concerns and issues of UST’s mostly middle-class students, and touches on both Church and State affairs without political partisanship to the Right or to the Left. Still, we want to shape social policy for the two things the V stands for—Veritas (truth) and Vita (life). The Varsitarian circulation is even bigger than some metropolitan newspapers. Copies are sent to the President, the Vice-President, the senators, house representatives, bishops, top government officials, media institutions, embassies, and even to institutions abroad. The V has the most extensive mailing list among student papers.

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The fourth difference lies on our having our own constitution and code of conduct, which are apparently absent in other student publications. These are documents which assure our readers that the V would exist according to a stable mandate, vision, division of labor, and moral conduct.

As I close the pages of this publication year, I wish to pass to the next batch V’s legacy built on the shoulder of giants and its enduring identity that makes all the difference. The new batch is relatively young, which will strengthen this organization’s ever youthful idealism, faith, and Vigor.

***

It has been a year of reading tomes from around 40 writers, overseeing seven extra-editorial events, and staying in the V day and night during deadlines and presswork.

There are people I would like to thank for making this “transition year” to V 80 possible:

First to my staff, for their willingness to work together without cooking up dissenting factions within the organization. Kudos to the next batch!

To the V section editors and directors who have devoted much of their time and talent to grace the V with grand non-publication activities and for assuring that every section would come out every issue.

To my fellow editorial board, Jeff and Edsel, for their support and loyalty. To Jeff who planned with me the features of the new office.

To Sir Lito, Eldric and the Selection Committee, for your counsel and your faith in my ability.

To my parents and to my family, for bearing my absence from home and for accommodating my personal needs.

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To my cousin TL, who did all the prodding for me to go back to the V despite my uncertainties.

And of course to my rose, Deni Rose Afinidad, V’s lifetime memento of enduring love and passion.

From my office window, I would miss looking at the image of the Varsitarian’s Christ, holding the book with the line “Liber Vitae,” meaning, “the Book of Life.” It will be the last book to be opened on the Day of Judgment, the last that I shall read that will remind me of the measure of my doings and writings for the Way, the Truth, and the Light.

Now, I finally nick-out.

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