THOMASIANS, most of all, need to be mindful of their own heritage and history.

In a conference ahead of the closing ceremonies of the Quadricentennial celebration in 2012, history professors told Thomasians to be conscious of the heritage and history of the University to become more knowledgeable not only of their Thomasian identity but their Filipino identity as well.

"National identity [and] consciousness of heritage and history are connected directly to the development of the nation," said the conference convenor, Prof. Maria Eloisa de Castro of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, during the International Conference on the Heritage and History of the University of Santo Tomas last Dec. 3.

University archivist and co-convenor Regalado Trota-Jose said learning heritage would help transcend cultural and societal boundaries.

"The knowledge of each other's heritage, if well entranced and well understood, [would enable us] to transcend [these] boundaries and we don't end up fighting each other," he said.

Florentino Hornedo, professor at the UST Graduate School, highlighted the pioneering role of the University in higher education over the centuries.

“[The University’s] staying power is amazing because [its history and heritage] is not just being maintained, it’s growing,” Hornedo said. “To be growing in 400 years gives [UST] a sense of youth and energy rather than tedious and old age.”

‘Insufficient studies’

In one of the plenary sessions, Hornedo pointed out that the Philippine Studies program of the Ateneo de Manila University was established by UST alumni in the early ‘70s. Five of its founders were Thomasians, including himself, National Artists Rolando Tinio and Bienvenido Lumbera, Nenita Oban-Escasa, and Policarpio Peregrino.

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Hornedo, who served as the program’s head from 1978-1985, was responsible for bringing down the 12-unit course to all freshmen students. It was originally offered only to junior students in the AB course.

Hornedo said there’s a need to strengthen UST’s dedication to the country’s heritage by offering Philippine Studies.

“I spent several years in other universities where Philippine Studies were very strong,” Hornedo said. “Here in UST, there seems to be more slant to international and Asian studies, but barely to Philippine [Studies],” he told the Varsitarian.

Not enough Philippine studies are being published in UST, Hornedo said, pointing to Ad Veritatem, the official publication of the Graduate School, where he is an editor.

“UST has to deepen its Philippine roots. It needs to expand the outreach of the roots of UST in Philippine awareness,” he said, adding that it was time to offer such discipline either in the undergraduate or graduate level, as the University marks its quadricentennial.

On the literary landscape of the University, alumnus Victor Emmanuel Nadera, who teaches Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, said the revival of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies would help promising students develop their writing skills.

“There is need for more workshops, seminars, and panel discussions with renowned writers that will help boost the quality of literary works by the students,” he said.

The Center for Creative Writing and Studies, which used to train student-writers, was shut down in 2008.

The conference held from Dec. 1 to 3 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex showcased the sacred and secular legacies as well as accomplishments of UST over the past centuries.

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Fifty-eight speakers—composed of alumni, faculty members, and foreign researchers specializing in the fields of arts, music, humanities, social sciences, communications, and advertising, presented papers tackling the essential roles of Thomasians in their respective disciplines and UST’s influence in various fields.


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