FOR philosophers like Aristotle and John Locke, human beings are born with a tabula rasa or “blank slate,” which dissembles genuine potentiality that only becomes actualized due to education and experience.

Upon entering the world, people hold nothing but merely a blank slate waiting to be sketched on according to how its author wants it to be. Character, intelligence, success, and personality are determined by how one “writes” his life on the tablet.

Defining the content of one’s personhood requires maturity.

Thus, education plays an important role in nurturing not only a person’s intellect, but his personhood as well.

When I first entered the University, I hoped that it would imbue me with the right kind of learning that woud free me from the veils of ignorance. And yes, UST has done that.

When I was browsing for books in a shop, a man’s shirt caught my attention. Printed on it was Jose Rizal and his remark, “In Ateneo, I spent the happiest days of my life.”

I smirked. The shirt was probably made to bash Rizal’s “other” school—UST. Biographer-historians Leon Maria Guerrero and Gregorio Zaide, among others, say that the national hero was “below his usual standards” while in the University, because the “Dominican professors were hostile to him” and “Filipino students (including Rizal) were racially discriminated.”

It is undeniable that Rizal indeed spent his happiest days at the then Ateneo Municipal, but it does not follow that his worst days took place in UST. Most people would admit that they are most happy in high school, and Ateneo was only a secondary school back then.

Piolo's other love

In Fr. Fidel Villaroel O.P.’s Jose Rizal and the University of Santo Tomas, Rizal confessed at the eve of his departure from Ateneo, that he was nostalgic for “that spirit of most sweet tranquility in which my soul used to dwell.”

And as Rizal moved out of Ateneo, where all activities were regimented by the Jesuits, and into UST, he underwent a transformation.

It is different in a university. Here, a greater measure of freedom is given to students. And while Rizal experienced a huge transition, he could have found it difficult focusing on his studies, given the usual “distractions of youth.”

Villaroel adds that it was during Rizal’s stay in UST that he had his first courtship — with a lady named Segunda Katigbak. It was a romantic relationship that, perhaps, produced his first heartbreak.

Furthermore, while Rizal had excellent grades in Ateneo, he he did not perform as well in the University where he took up medicine. It might be because his interest was really in poetry and the arts. It was his father’s decision for him to take up medicine.

It is a myth that Rizal was unahppy and shabbily treated in UST. Here, he was granted the rare permission of studying simultaneously the preparatory course to and the first year of medicine, which proves that the Spanish Dominicans did not racially discriminate against him. Rizal also attained the grade, “notable” (very good) during his fourth year, placing him behind Cornelio Mapa who earned the mark sobresaliente (excellent).

He earned a licentiate in medicine at the Universidad Central de Madrid in Spain with the help of the knowledge he had gained from UST.

Ex-rector back in Dominican Order

Rizal might have spent his happiest days in Ateneo, but he must have spent his most meaningful days in UST.

If it was not for my Rizal Course, I could have just fallen for the t-shirt’s uneven claim hook, line and sinker. But because I, a tabula rasa, have been instructed well by a great institution, I have been enlightened from the blunders and unfair declarations of Rizal biographers regarding UST and the Dominicans.

As my junior year starts, I know that this tablet of mine will be continuously inscribed excellently though quality education, helping me in developing moral character and a well-integrated personhood.


  1. Isn’t it obvious that a Dominican “reverend” father would defend the name of the school? Although I admire Fr. Villaroel, the way he did it for was in defense of the “good” name and reputation of the University.

    And let me guess, you wrote about Rizal and his life inside the medieval walls of University (with minds as old as the Arch) because you are still bitter that you did not pass the ACET. If I were you, I would get over it already.

    A student must love his school in one way or the other, but that love turns into a shrouding cloud to your logical faculties if you try to bend the truth in favor of your dear University.


    Be prouder that you are an Artlet. I tell you, that works all the time.

    • Ang ganda ng reasoning mo, tsong! Grabe! So kapag pinagtanggol ko si Rizal ngayon na hindi siya bitter sa UST, hindi ako pumasa ng ACET. How mature. Napaka-kitid naman ng pag-iisip mo para isipin na ang mga bagay katulad nito ay laging may kinalaman sa mga lintik na school rivalry na ‘yan. Hindi ba siya pwedeng magsulat tungkol doon kasi yun ang gusto niyang isulat?

      I suggest na basahin mo rin ito.

      Matuto ka sanang mag-explore ng alternate perspectives, hindi lang yung pinapakain sa’yo ng status quo. Hindi lang naman press release para sa UST ang libro ni Fr. Villaroel, bilang may basehan naman ang mga sinasabi niya. At sino nga ba naman ang tunay na makapagsasabi kung ano ang tunay na nararamdaman ni Rizal toward UST.

      • It seems to me that you are vexed by my “guess” that he flunked the ACET. Fine with me. But do you know the nature of the word guess? Because a guess, in one way or the other, might be wrong or right, partially or fully. Also, it appears that you did not get the joke, maybe because written words are said to be emotionless, compared to its oral counter part. Yes, my guess is wrong (he verified it, look at the more recent comments), but there are bigger things than you, me, the Rizal-UST mythos and this so-called school rivalry which has been going on for years and years. And I loathe it because it debases our studentship in a university to lowly inter-collegiate games and race for sponsorship by huge sporting brands; much as, or even more than, you hated my comment.

        In relation to Fr. Villaroel’s book (which I liked because he introduced me a new perspective of a Thomasian Rizal), yes, it is not a press release of the school, and the word press release is intended to troll other readers, like you. However, what you forgot to say is that, whether you like it or not, it is in defense of the University, which was marred by the allegations that Rizal was maltreated during his time here. It is only normal that Fr. Villaroel, and the Dominicans in general, would retaliate.

        As for you, congratulations. You have been trolled by a “narrow-minded” reader like me. What’s more in store? Don’t ask what the status quo has injected on me because I “guess” you wouldn’t want to know.


        Congratulations again!

    • Why would someone be bitter if he failed ACET? Why would anyone even care?

      I think you’re speaking for yourself. Not everyone entered UST because they failed to do so with the university-of-their-choice. A lot chose this University to be on top of their list. I, for one, had UST the only school on my list when I graduated in highschool. This is where my grand pa ( a doctor), my dad (also doctor), my older brother (an engineer, place 8th on the licensure exams), and me (Accountancy) graduated from. My youngest brother is currently in the Faculty of Engineering and is kicking ass. None of us bothered or even attempted to go to other schools.

      Love that turns into a shrouding cloud to your logical faculties? I think that’s not the case. The writer is teling something from his heart, something that he knew from his teachers or from his professors. These are not just baseless, unfounded defenses. These are clarifications. They may not be 100% accurate, but none of the historians’ are.

      I think you contain the real shrouding cloud to your own logical faculties – it’s either your hate for this University, or your bitterness that YOU found yourself in here. And I guess either one is pathetic.

      Thank you

      Tim, CPA – BSA 2004

  2. Wrong guess. For your information, I did not even care to take the Acet so I have no reasons to be bitter with that school.

  3. Alright, wrong guess, you said. For the sake of argument, let us say that you are not bitter (and since it came from the horse’s mouth, I will deem it as true as Fr. Villaroel’s facts). I will also get over with my provocations on the issue, only to be a gentleman, that is.

    But don’t you think there are more important issues to be written about such as illuminating the students about the importance of Magna Carta (like the way Jose Rizal and The University of Santo Tomas opened a new dimension in your head)? You must take note that its appearance on your pages will pressure not just the CSC officers, who are busy right sitting their fattening asses on swivel chairs (a bold statement, I know), but also the academic senate on passing the said petition. As early as July, Doy must already be working on ratifying the charter and not just walking around the campus like some campus mascot or some FedEx guy. As for the academic senate, you know them; ultracons are really stones in the collegiate shoes. And another issue that needs to discussed is the quality education “sold” by the University. Are you really sure that your “great institution” is giving you a quality “product” at the price of more than P40,000? With your current subjects, are you sure that you are being equipped by the knowledge the University promises? Or are you already infected with the “college fever” which makes you a boiled frog, someone who is contented with only one semester of News writing classes and being dragged by this whole insert-whatever-you-want-call-it-here into complacency over mediocrity, all for the reason of love for your school? You don’t have to answer back; just think about it deeply.

    My friend, I know that you earned your space in the papers but you should also devote every letter of it for the betterment of the students. But I am not saying that you didn’t in your opinion. You just have to highlight certain issues that are bigger than you, me and this school passion and rivalry that is being denigrated to mere basketball games and pop culture items. Wake up. Today is not the time to be provoked by a stupid shirt. (Is it Team Manila? Then it is stupid.)


    Read this. This is epic.


    Big Brother is watching you. Look at all the cameras installed inside the school. It seems the university is under oligarchial collectivism, much like Oceania in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four.


    Who is your professor on RC? Thank him/her.

    • This may be out of topic, but since you mentioned it. Yeah, one semester of news writing is the ultimate failure of AB JRN. Come ojt period, jrn kids would present their school through crappy news articles to their trainers. By the way, the prof is good (i’m pertaining to the practitioner); but one semester is never enough to teach students the way of life they’re about to take on forever (if and when they become real journalists).

    • I would just like to point out that the Central Board is conducting meetings (that usually adjourns at around 9-10 in the evening) every week, having the Student’s Code as their top priority. Doy (along with the whole Central Board) is working and is determined in the ratification of the Student’s Code. The Board just want to fix every detail, in order to give us a Student’s Code that is not half-baked.

      And I’d rather see a President walking around the campus because that will assure me that he is doing something for the student body, rather than having a President who’s just sitting in his chair, waiting for his term to expire. So give the guy a break and try to talk to him about these issues. It’s a lot better than jumping into conclusions.

      • Thank you for informing us because we don’t have any news regarding that. As a result, our sense of judgment relies on crutches. Now at least we know that they are working on it.


        I’m not in the position to talk to the CSC president (even if he is a fellow Artlet) because I’m just a spectator. Sorry. Maybe these guys can.


        To be frank, I don’t get a clear shot on the relation of walking around the campus and doing his job. I don’t know. It sound, sort of, unrelated.

        • If you really read the Varsitarian often, you SHOULD have news about it. These guys have just written about your most desired Magna Carta last summer. During the May issue, if I remember it right. The CSC has been working on it for ages! Clearly, you are just formulating your conclusions based on what you feel. READ. It will help you understand things.

  4. For once, I agree with Mrtyu-Mara. This holy space given for an opinion writer should inform, enlighten readers about current events that may directly affect their lives, NOT a historical journal.

    Proving that you are intellectual by using topics found in history is far from media’s aim of expressing and informing the public.

    Enlighten the readers, and praises will come next.

    • Let me ask you. Has the writer failed to enlighten and inform the public? Has he not cited facts sufficiently, which may enlighten people from the blunders that they used to believe? Isn’t it that the public must know the truth, which the writer has succeeded to do? Please, ENLIGHTEN me.

      • This is an overused subject. Yes, he ENLIGHTENED the readers with this piece, but think about it, just what Rizal Course, which is mandated by law, doing in our curriculum? I don’t see anything wrong with history-talking on a column piece, but to use such an “overused” subject to defend YET AGAIN UST from all the blunders is not only plain redundancy, but also uncalled for. It is enough that UST historians had already pointed such repeatedly. Besides, if you will ask me, historians are the best people to talk about Rizal, NOT students. History is a very delicate matter that needs expertise.

        Spare this column for something that would directly affect the student body. In that way, you will EFFECT change and AFFECT more people.

  5. How could you even suspect that the statement shirt was made to bash UST?

    Kahit kelan bitter ang UST sa Ateneo. Pang ilang articles niyo na to, trying to disparage Ateneo? Pathetic niyo masyado.

    Jealous much?

    Stop using Ateneo in your desperate attempts to make your school appear great.

    E di gumawa rin kayo ng CLAIMS like “In UST, I spent my most meaningful years!”

    Huwag na kayong magpaka subtle. Hindi umuobra e. Ang marunong gumamit ng subtlety, yung matatalino.

    • Why would UST be bitter of your Ateneo? Enlighten me, what has your Ateneo experienced that UST had not? Why would UST be jealous and be “desperate” to appear great? You are actually claiming that your elitist Jesuit-run Ateneo is great? Is it? Was it? And why would UST create a ridiculous statement shirt like that? So that UST would appear bitter like what you wanted it to be? And you are describing Thomasians as not intellectual? Don’t make me laugh. The writer has suspected that the shirt must have been made to bash UST because he has a sense of history. Do you?

  6. To mityumara,
    I am a freshman at UST. I flunked UPCAT and ACET. Disappointed ako but I am not bitter. Failing and flunking the ACET does NOT mean that I can no longer be a good person. I am glad that I made it to UST. My stay here at UST is so far so good … I like what I feel and i like what i see.
    Mityu, kung ATENISTA ka e magagaling naman talaga kayo at matatalino(kaya no reason to feel insecure).

    Agree ako sa iyo Mityu, set aside na ang rivalry, pati biases and prejudices, tama ka meron mga mas mahahalagang bagay na dapat pagtu-unan ng pansin. Tingnan mo ang status quo ng bansa natin, I do not like what i see, gusto mo ba ang nakikita mo? Hopefully sana .. sa bagong Administration ni P-noy ay may pagbababago na..

  7. I agree with Mityu that there are indeed greater and more important issues to be concerned with (like those he mentioned). In our College of Engineering, I believe that there should be more emphasis on hands-on during Lab training and more practicum. Sometimes, Laboratory subjects are taken for granted. The School should upgrade its Lab facilities.
    Sometimes, we give so much emphasis on topping the Board exams. I have nothing against this, but our school heads should see to it and make sure that all its graduates are qualified and competent enough in their chosen fields. As a student, it’s not enough to pass the exams. Learning is different from passing. We shouild ask ourseves if our beloved University has adequately taught and trained us, Competent at qualified nga ba ang mga mentors natin? . Have we learned enough from them. Are we confident that we can do the job that we’re going to apply for after graduation? Are we competetive enough with the graduates of other top schools in the country? Do we have the edge in terms of academics, training and skills? Having Thomasians in the Top govenment posts, or thomassians Topping the Board exam, or Winning the Songfest, sportfest title 2 or even 5 times in a row indeed makes me feel good and make me feel proud as a Thomasian, but this may not automatically mean that we are over par ( or perhaps at par) with the graduates of the other top schools. We should see to it that our beloved UST never cease to strive for exellence.

    • UST is trying its best in updating its facilities. I am a student at the College of fine arts and design. We have three computer laboratories and two of these are using iMac computers. Even the faculty of medicine and surgery is using state of the art facilities.

  8. First, I don’t agree with what the writer understands to be implied in the statement shirt. I think it was made without any other particular school in mind. Secondly, there’s no need to say that one school is insecure of the other. Both schools have their own histories and each should be proud of theirs. I am from Ateneo, but I also acknowledge that most of my relatives are from UST so i’m relatively affiliated to both. Please see that there’s no point in the rivalry, the bashing and the apologetic comments. 🙂

  9. i am a product of both ateneo and ust. just like rizal i studied at the ateneo high school and graduated in 1984. just like rizal, i did spent one of my happiest moments there. i took my pre-med and medicine course at ust and got my doctor of medicine degree in 1992. my stay at ust was not the happiest but the most productive and most fulfilling. jesuits and dominicans have different styles of teaching and in my case they complemented each other. so forget about this talk about what institution is better. both are excellent.ateneo taught me to become a man for others. ust taught me to become a compleat , christian

  10. I graduated from UST (Psychology degree) and am currently working on my master’s degree at the Ateneo. It is true comparisons of both universities can bring about so much heat and discussion.

    I have always been thankful of the Thomasian education I received but am equally grateful for the Atenean spirit imbued upon me.

    I think it is quite premature to comment on shirt signs as indicator of one thing over another. Since the writer of the article, used “probably” as his qualifier in his interpretation of what the shirt intended, it remains there as what is is – a probable observation, and speculation.

    The funny thing is discussions like this vent out deep-seated feelings of animosity and disdain; students from both universities bring out their pasionate loyalties to their alma mater. Observe also that it brings out opportunities for fruitful (and sometimes acrimonious) discussions. All I’m saying is, an interpretation based on “probably” can bring about emotional outburts. We often see (whether it’s T-shirts or clouds above our heads) what we see because we want to see them, or perhaps they merely reflect what is deep inside of us.

    Ergo, we need to be careful with our speculations.

    XD Peace everyone. 🙂

  11. what would Rizal do if he sees us dissing each other’s school?
    he’d slap us senseless till we wake up from the truth, that school bashing is ugly, bar none.

    But I have to admit that majority of my UST educated friends have this animosity towards my alma mater. Usually it starts with chiding and to this day, I remain baffled.

    Can’t we just all get along?

    anyway, congratulations UST for 400 Years of Unending Grace!

  12. Haha pathetic. A whole column just because of that shirt statement. As expected from the Varsitarian! :)) What beef do you have with Ateneo? Haha this has ‘bitter’ written all over it.

  13. “Rizal might have spent his happiest days in Ateneo, but he must have spent his most meaningful days in UST” – Thomasians make a t-shirt out of this. Hahaha.

  14. The thing that I don’t get about this article is why are you so defensive about Rizal’s stay in UST. If Rizal said that he spent the happiest moments of his life in the Ateneo, then so be it. I just don’t get why you have to defend your school from the fact that Rizal did not have the same feelings it had for the Ateneo.

    Your article is just pointless. It’s as if you were trying to make Rizal an endorser of your school. If your school is the place where you can really learn something meaningful, you don’t need a national hero to like your school. You just sounded so pathetic.

  15. I am an Atenean and I don’t see any underlying bashing in that shirt. All I see is an honest Atenean who has enjoyed his or her stay in Ateneo and merely stating that he has spent/is spending the happiest days of his life in Ateneo. As Jose Rizal is a noted alumni of Ateneo, then using him as an image in the shirt along with the quote that he had uttered is appropriate. I don’t see why we need to create such a big feud with this.

  16. You just have to accept the fact that not everyone likes UST.

    Rizal was one of them.

    For the record, I study in UST and I think it rocks.


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