A HISTORIAN has called attention to some historical innacuracies on the UST website.

Jose Victor Torres, a former professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters, said the link titled “Landmarks” in www.ust.edu.ph interpreted the plaques located at the Main Building “erroneously.”

“Last night, I was scanning through the UST website and read through the site that said ‘landmarks.’ Imagine to my surprise and horror when I read this entry on the Main Building,” Torres said in an e-mail to the Varsitarian.

Torres took notice of how the website described the bronze plaques at the Main Building:

“One bronze plaque recounts the foundation of the University in 1611,” the website read. “Another, the momentous visit of Pope Paul VI in 1970 (for how many universities ever get visited by a pope, much less by two popes as is the experience of UST?) and still another plaque recounts the conversion of the University into a concentration camp by the Japanese Imperial Forces in World War II.”

Torres, now a history professor at De La Salle University, said the “black bronze plaque” is not about the foundation of the University, but “the new campus building (Main Building).”

“This (black bronze plaque) was installed in 1935 by the National Historical Commission headed by Eulogio Rodriguez Sr.” Torres said.  “There is another plaque, but this is wooden and lists colleges in the University at that time.  This marker has no date,” he added.

Torres said UST was never a “concentration camp” or a prison of political detainees, but rather an internment camp, or a site for civilians during the war from January 1942 to February 1945, of the Japanese forces. Only 3,000 to 4,000 civilians, not 10,000, were kept in the camp.

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“There were only some 3,000 to 4,000 civilians in the camp at that time.  Not 10,000!  In fact, the final tally of the Allied internees in 1945 was more than 3,700 after some of them were moved to Los Baños, Laguna because of overcrowding in the camp,” Torres said, citing data from the Santo Tomas Internment Camp Committee records at the American Historical Collection Library in Ateneo de Manila University.

The internees were monitored and fed by Red Cross volunteers until “supplies became scarce,” he added.

The website post stated that 10,000 Americans, British and other nationals were “left starved, dehumanized, left to die” in UST.

Torres noted that the UST internment camp had shanties for war detainees at that time.

“As to the [website] statement, ‘The UST Main Building probably hides within its walls other secrets of history, many of them unrecorded’ is a laughable statement, considering that, historically, documentation on the building is complete, including accounts by the Dominicans, professors, and alumni,” Torres said.

Jaime Romero, former public affairs assistant director who used to edit the website’s content, said he had “nothing to do with it.”

“I used to work with the people making the website, [but] I have never come across that article (Landmarks). It is my first time to read it,” Romero, whose term ended in June 2009, told the Varsitarian.

Public Affairs Director Giovanna Fontanilla opted not to comment on the matter.


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