A BARRIO fiesta dinner welcomed the Master of the Dominican Order, Fr. Carlos Alfonso Aspiroz Costa, O.P. and the assistant to the Master for the Asia Pacific Region, Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, O.P., during their visit to UST last March 1.

Fr. Aspiroz is the first Argentinean and the second non-European Master of the 787-year old Dominican Order. He was elected last July 14 at the General Elective Chapter of the Order in the Priory of St. Thomas, Providence College, Rhode Island.

The dinner festival allowed Fr. Aspiroz to meet a cross-section of the Thomasian community. The festival’s program included a song rendition from the Rondalla of the Conservatory of Music and a marionette parade of the different University patron saints.

The Salinggawi Dance Troupe performed several native dances such as “Oasiaos,” “Sayaw sa Bangko,” and “Maglalatik.” To the delight of the crowd, Fr. Azpiroz tried to dance the “Tinikling” with the dancers, which earned him warm applause.

As a token gift for his visit, the University presented Fr. Aspiroz a prized lithography piece showing UST founder Archbishop Miguel de Benavidez, O.P., and the UST Main Building. The lithograph was executed by renowned Thomasian artist Fil Dela Cruz.

“Hopefully he’ll always remember UST and love to come back (here,)” said UST Secretary General Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P.

Upon arrival in the building, Prior Provincial Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., Rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P., and Vice-Rector Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P., with other University officials, and students, welcomed the two Dominican officials at the Main Building Lobby. Fr. Aspiroz and Fr. Pedregosa were then toured to the tower of the Main Building where they were given a bird’s eye view of the campus grounds.

Younger than his daughter

The guests also visited the Rector’s Office, the Museum of Arts and Sciences, and the Central Library where they visited the Center for Intercultural Studies, the Archives section, and the Educational Technology Center.

On the second day of his visit, Fr. Aspiroz participated in the Dominican Family Gathering held at the UST Seminary Gym. On March 3, he celebrated the 8 a.m. mass with Fr. Arceo and Fr. Pedregosa at the Sto. Domingo Church.

The following day, he left for Calamba, Laguna to visit the St. Albert the Great Dominican Pre-Novitiate Seminary and the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.

Despite the limited time of his visit, Fr. Aspiroz connected with the Thomasians who found him “very warm” and “personal.” According to Dominican Network Youth president Angelica Relucio, Fr. Aspiroz himself tried to reach out to them.

“We were introduced very briefly yet he remembered my name and that I’m taking up Philosophy. He even encouraged me (to pursue) my plans to take up law,” Relucio said.

Graduate School Dean Dr. Lillian Sison, on the other hand, observed that Fr. Aspiroz appreciated the festive atmosphere in UST since it “reminded him of the barrios” in Argentina.

As Master of the Order, Fr. Aspiroz is the ex-officio Grand Chancellor of the University. As Assistant to the Master of the Order of Preachers for the Asia Pacific Region, Fr. Pedregosa accompanies Fr. Aspiroz in his travels and serves as the overseer of all the Dominican affairs in the region.

Coming from China, the visitors stayed in the country from Feb. 27 to March 5. They then left for India to visit more Dominican missions. Maria Pacita C. Joson

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