De la Rosa. Photo by Paul Allyson R. QuiambaoUST HAS committed to build 400 villages for the poor nationwide to mark its quadricentennial, with no less than Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. calling on Thomasians to contribute in “nation-building” less than two years before the University turns 400 in 2011.

The Rector’s Report for academic year 2008-2009 last September 4 was highlighted by the ambitious project to create 400 villages with the Gawad Kalinga Foundation, the popular shelter movement of the Catholic lay group Couples for Christ.

De la Rosa noted that Thomasian volunteers have been helping the poor build houses under the Gawad Kalinga program, and that so far they have built 30 villages.

“Twelve of the 30 Thomasian villages are located in Towerville, Bulacan, which [served] as a relocation site for the former railway squatters,” the Rector said.  

Tony Meloto, who shared the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership with Gawad Kalinga which he and other Couples for Christ leaders started a decade ago, was present during the Rector’s Report at the Medicine Auditorium.

De la Rosa also said Gawad Kalinga has tapped UST to give kalingang Tomasino or “Thomasian care” to its villages by providing for their medical needs.

De la Rosa said the 400 villages program should be used to help in nation-building, citing the Gawad Kalinga slogan, “By building homes, we build lives.”

“By building lives, we build a nation. The task of building [rests] largely on us. We have to go out on a limb, rather than [stay] in our comfort zones,” he said.

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To jumpstart the project, De la Rosa has formed a committee composed of key University officials and alumni. In an interview, he said the program would be launched on September 30.

“Our vision is to mobilize 400 engineers, architects, teachers, and doctors among others who will help us build 400 sustainable Thomasian villages all over the country,” De la Rosa said in his speech.

The yearly Rector’s Report was again punctuated by intermission numbers and testimonials.

De la Rosa mentioned that 104 Aetas in Zambales and Tarlac continue to receive assistance from the University. Aetas from a partner-community graced the event, and one of them even gave a speech on how their lives were changed by the Distance Education Program of UST, which uses two-way radio to deliver instructions to Aeta students.

“We can now read road signs and calculate expenses when buying in the market. At last, we can now write the names of our chosen candidates for the national elections on our own for the first time,” Lina said in Filipino.

De la Rosa added that the Office for Community Development has embarked on a partnership with Angelicum College, a Dominican institution, for the pilot-testing of Angelicum’s “Re-Entry Agenda for the Poor” modules in UST partner-communities.

These modules will pave the way for the accreditation of Distance Education students.

“With this collaboration, we offer these people the hope that they can at least earn a primary school diploma,” he said.

The number of UST’s “adopted schools” has also increased from nine to 16 public schools, De la Rosa added. Adopted schools are given school supplies and assistance in Math, Science, and English instruction, among others.

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The University meanwhile exceeded the required five-percent student scholarship ratio set by the Commission on Higher Education, having a total of 2,401 scholars last school year or 6.62 percent of the total student body.

“Our scholarship program forms an essential part of the service we extend to our students,” he added.

The Rector said Thomasian graduates have not only become successful in their careers, they are also “achievers on a moral sense.”

He pointed to UST’s high passing rates in recent licensure examinations, and gave a rundown of some Thomasians who have become successful in their fields.

One of them, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, a Faculty of Civil Law alumna, said: “I have brought what this institution taught me to the judiciary,”

Gutierrez is now dean of the Graduate School of Law of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

Advocacies, linkages

The Rector said the University signed seven new agreements with academic institutions in the United States, Malaysia, New Zealand, France, Japan, Belgium and Taiwan, “renewed ties with one partner institution, and established an agreement with a local industry partner.”

UST has forged a pact with SYKES Asia Inc., a business process outsourcing company, for internship programs in quality assurance, human resource management, and information technology and systems, he said.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Can we sign up in this program? How can we be counted as volunteers? Me and my fellow Educ HRM Batch 1993 would like to help in building houses. Thanks!

  2. Hello,
    I am an alumnus of the College of Architecture & Fine Arts’ 85 living in Vancouver BC. With the coming Quadricentenial celebration, it is my desire to gather alumni from Vancouver and across North America with a goal to help the UST 400 Villages program.
    I request permission to use your logo, name in reference to the the 400 Village program. I would direction to the committee spear heading the project so that I can liase and coordinate my efforts here in Vancouver in conjunction with the committee.

  3. Hello, I suggest you guys coordinate with the Office for Alumni Relations. Most likely they would be able to help with your queries.

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