The countdown to the next centennial begins.

Week-long festivities will again be held on campus as UST concludes its tumultuous 400th year celebration, and welcomes its fifth century.

Highlighting the ‘Neo-centennial’ (new centennial) celebration is the singing of the Thomasian community dubbed as “40,000 Voices.” The Jan. 27 event will be spearheaded by award-winning conductor Herminigildo Ranera of the Conservatory of Music, together with two-time “Choir of the World” UST Singers, the UST Symphony Orchestra, and college-based choirs.

To depict the religious, Filipino, and contemporary Thomasian identity, songs to be performed include “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” medleys of Philippine folk songs (“Leron-Leron Sinta,” “Magtanim ay ‘di Biro,” and “Pen Pen de Sarapen”), songs of 70’s pop group ABBA (“Thank You for the Music,” “I Have a Dream,” and “Chiquitita”), and the Quadricentennial theme song “Ako’y Isang Tomasino,” followed by the unabridged version of the UST Hymn.

The “40,000 Voices” will be followed by a Grand Fiesta, alongside the Neo-Centennial Grand Variety Show at the UST Grandstand and open field, reminiscent of last year’s Quadricentennial Fiesta. A fireworks display will also cap the event.

Prior to the variety show on Jan. 27, the Neo-Centennial Eucharistic Celebration will be celebrated by the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Thomasian Jose Palma. CBCP vice-president Socrates Villegas will be the homilist.

Eight college dance groups will compete for the Cheermania to be held along with the Q-Cheer-making contest, organized by the Student Organizations’ Coordination Council, and Yellow Jackets, respectively.

On Jan. 26, a walk-through at the Thomasian Alumni Center will take place at 4 p.m., alongside the 76th UST Alumni Priests’ Association Homecoming of the Central Seminary, which is expected to be attended by notable bishops and clergy, including Tuguegarao Bishop Ricardo Baccay, Lipa Bishop Conrado Castillo, and Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi—the first Filipino rector of UST. Last year, over 400 Thomasian clergymen reunited for the Quadricentennial event. The two-day event, themed “Spending God’s Unending Grace to the Church, Nation, and Family,” will be highlighted by the forum on the priestly life to be led by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle. The forum will have the theme, “On the Consistent Ethics of Life of Priests,” and will be held at the Benavides Cancer Institute Auditorium of the UST Hospital.

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The Thomasian community will also relive UST in Intramuros during the turn of the 20th century through a living tableau, dubbed as “Velada Tomasina,” on Jan. 25.

Students in costumes will reenact the 1907 procession of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila in Intramuros, with replicas of the old campus and old Santo Domingo Church at the Miguel de Benavides Plaza. The procession will be include 11 saints canonized in 1907.

The miraculous image of La Naval—which saved Manila from the invading Dutch forces in the 17th century—was once housed in the University.

Assistant to the Rector for Student Affairs Evelyn Songco said students are highly encouraged to take part in the “highly anticipated” historical event that will highlight the cultural milieu of the University.

Songco said “Velada Tomasina” would be a fitting prelude to UST’s fifth century, as it will depict the important achievements of the 400-year-old institution and at the same time appreciate the way of life of Thomasians and Filipinos in the late 1800’s.

Also on the list of activities is the unveiling of the historical marker proclaiming UST as a National Historical Landmark at the Millennium Gate (España), to be headed by National Historical Commission director Ludovico Badoy in the morning. It will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of Msgr. Miguel de Benavides, O.P. in thanksgiving to UST’s founder.

“Velada Tomasina” will also be characterized by Spanish songs and poems, and role-playing of prominent alumni during their stay in UST: Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Jacinto Mabini, and Teodoro Agoncillo. Lectures focusing on UST at the turn of the 19th century will be delivered at the Civil Law Auditorium.

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An exhibit, “Ad Januam Coeli,” which means “At the Door of Heaven,” will be staged at the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences, presenting the precious documents, photos, and memorabilia of the Blessed Pope John Paul II. The exhibit will run until Feb. 10.

A University Fair, which will expose and sell different UST memorabilia, will be held on campus on Jan. 24, alongside “Feria de la Tapa” at the Quadricentennial Square. The event will showcase different Spanish cuisines and a glimpse of Spanish life, which will be concluded by the Flamenco Night.

The unveiling of the decade-long “400 books at 400” project of the UST Publishing House will be held on the same day at the lobby of the Miguel de Benavides Library. UST will also unveil scholarly titles like “Puentes de España en las Filipinas” by Manuel Maximo L. Castillo, “Tomas Pinpin and Tagalog Survival in Early Spanish Philippines” by Damon Woods, and a variety of literary titles and art books like “The House of True Desire,” “Mga Pilat sa Pilak,” and “Superpanalo Sounds” and “Insectissimo”, written by former Varsitarian literary writer, Lourd De Veyra.

On Jan. 20, UST opened a photo exhibit showcasing the “never-before-seen” photographs of UST from a student’s perspective, by fifth-year Architecture student and the Varsitarian’s former chief lensman Paul Allyson Quiambao.

Titled “400 Shots to Immortality: Timeless Photographs of the University of Santo Tomas Towards its Neo-Centennial,” the exhibit is divided into eight sections, featuring Thomasian campus life, UST’s historic landmarks, annual university-wide festivities, athletic programs, Dominican fathers’ life inside UST, the UST exhibit at Unesco in Paris, UST’s Guinness World Record on the “Largest Human Cross,” and the Quadricentennial celebration.

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Proceeds will be partly donated to the victims of typhoon Sendong and to “Simbahayan,” the Quadricentennial centerpiece project. Rafael L. Antonio and Reden D. Madrid

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