FACES OF THOMASIAN HOMES. Members of households “imbued with unending grace” come back to their home university to share in the momentous week-long event for UST’s Quadricentennial. Photos by Josa Camille A. Bassig and Ana May R. Dela CruzRODORA Costales grew up in UST, having studied in the España-based campus from grade school to college. With four other siblings who shared the same rearing and a father who took up his postgraduate studies in this University, she proudly claimed her Thomasian roots and recalled the fond memories of school buses, Little Quiapo, and ever-present floods.

Harold Calderon was also familiar to the murky waters, but not so familiar to avoid a manhole during his second year in the UST High School. Thankfully, his backpack was big, putting a halt to what could have been a deep and dangerous fall.

Both of them would return to their alma mater’s embrace on the floodless night of January 28 with their hands and hearts intertwined. Rodora would carry an attachment to her name—Calderon—courtesy of Harold, who she married after leaving her home university and facing the “real” world.

This couple was just one of the many alumni who found themselves and their better half within the Thomasian community, bringing the high-caliber education they received from Asia’s oldest academic institution as they built homes of their own. Promoting academic excellence that encompasses four centuries, UST has also taken a big part in building the smallest but most important unit of the society—the family.

Sense of faith

For Rodora, who earned a degree in Commerce in 1961, UST has taught her family the gift of sharing through its religious traditions.

“We’re able to [live by the] good because that’s what we learned here,” she said. “Like helping someone out—the good [things] you have, you can share with others.”

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Rosalia Buzon, who met her spouse, Romulo, during their internship as students of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, said that her Thomasian experience gave her a spirit different from everyone.

“Wherever I go, I have the inner strength,” the lady doctor said.

Romulo added that the modesty instilled by the University in its students was an important extra ingredient that kept Thomasians grounded even when they are already geared for success.

Bernardita Muñoz-Tiongco, 83, shared the same belief, saying that the values formation in UST made its graduates a cut above the rest.

“The most important Thomasian virtue is the fear of God,” said the 1951 Home Economics graduate. “We’re quiet but we have big, open hearts.”

Training ground

For Romulo, an anesthesiologist, Thomasian education—with a well-structured curriculum—“is the best,” as he had experienced during his training as a Medical Technology and Medicine student.

“The training provided by the trainers is more than enough for you to survive and succeed,” he said.

AB Economics alumna Sonia Villena-Ambatali added that being a UST graduate made it easy for her and her siblings to be successful in their chosen fields.

“When you’re a UST graduate, they will immediately hire you,” the AB Economics alumna said.

A student in UST from high school to postgraduate studies,

For Faculty of Arts and Letters professor Alvin Ang, teaching in UST was a way of giving back to the University that honed him.

“A Thomasian is a participant of change,” he said.

Alvin’s sister and fellow Thomasian Aileen Valientes added that Thomasians were reared to be “simple but very capable.”

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Engineering alumna Gilda Guevara attended the festivities with her father, Alex, who was also a product of the same faculty, and they have high hopes for UST in the years to come.

“We wish that UST continues to flourish with their quality education and encourage more students to become tomorrow’s achievers,” said Gilda, who graduated from the University in 1985.

Thomasian lineages

Sonia, who earned her degree in 1971, came from a family of UST products, with seven of eight children—including Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya Bishop Ramon Villena—earning their degrees in Asia’s oldest Catholic university.

She would let the tradition go on in her own family, sending her two daughters to the same institution. Her eldest, Marian Kristine, finished Legal Management and Law in UST, and her other daughter, Sarah Clare, is currently a Nursing freshman.

For Sarah Clare, a Quadricentennial enrollee, the older members of her family served as her inspiration to become a Thomasian.

“It’s in our genes,” she said. “I’m happy that our family is a part of UST’s history.” Ana May R. Dela Cruz and Margaret Rose B. Maranan


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