TURNING 400 was never easy, and so is marching toward another hundred years.

While embracing a whole new era, UST expresses its deep gratitude for the unparalleled longevity with high hopes that “the oldest institution of higher learning in the Far East” would surpass the tribulations that will eventually come its way.

Commemorative Items

The University launched commemorative items in time for the Quadricentennial celebration, including P200 bills with an overprint of the Quadricentennial logo and gold and silver medals with the image of UST founder Msgr. Miguel de Benavides, O.P., which were issued by  the Bangko Central ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Aside from the P200 bills in circulation, BSP also released 400 special copies of two uncut P200 bills, which equal to P400, matching the University’s years of existence.

Also among the commemorative items that proved to be “blockbusters” were the Swatch Quadricentennial watches designed by Varsitarian alumnus Jonathan Gamalinda and the special commemorative UST postage stamps issued by the post office.

The Jubilee year

The 400th anniversary of the University
began with Pope Benedict XVI’s declaration of Jubilee Year from January
2011 to January 2012 in commemoration of the institution’s spiritual
contributions in the Philippines and the rest of the world.
Former
Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales formally opened the week-long
festivities on Jan. 24 last year, declaring the Santisimo Rosario Parish
a “Jubilee Church” that may grant pious visitors plenary indulgence or
the remission of temporal punishment due to sin.

Icusta conference

International delegates from around the world converged on campus for the 10th biennial conference of the International Council of the Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas (Icusta) on Jan. 26 last year. The gathering reaffirmed their vision to promote Catholic values and foster Christian principles.

The three-day convention was graced by 43 local and foreign delegates of 25 Catholic institutions from 18 countries.

Top university officials discussed ways on how to remain faithful to the Catholic ideals amid the secularism.

Presidential visit

President Benigno Aquino III, in his keynote address during the Icusta conference, cited the University’s “400 years of quality Christian education.”

“For four centuries, [UST] has upheld the traditions of excellence and integrity, known to many as the Thomasian spirit, which now resides in the hearts and minds of our leaders and professionals,” he said. “The University of Santo Tomas has educated the best this country has to offer. But when we look back at the long list of distinguished individuals this institution has produced, it is not merely education that sets them apart, but principles…This University has made it its noble mission to instill Catholic principles to each of its students while, at the same time, giving them a high quality of education.”

‘Q’ Parade

An estimated 7,200 members of the Thomasian community participated in the Quadricentennial Parade on Jan. 26 last year. It featured five colossal floats that represented the different periods in the school’s history.

A deep sense of pride emanated among Thomasians who participated in the parade as they marched along the streets of Morayta, Recto, and Earnshaw, donning colorful costumes while being accompanied by dance, music, and a roaring beat from the UST Yellow Jackets.

The first float (1611 to 1711) featured the façades of the original UST building and Sto. Domingo Chuch in Intramuros. The second (1711 to 1811) and third floats (1811 to 1911) featured the Arch of the Centuries and Main Building, respectively. Representing the 20th century was a fourth float that exhibited the UST Central Seminary building and replicas of the Fountains of Wisdom and Knowledge. The last float represented the Quadricentennial era and showcased the Quattromondial, Martyrs’ Monument, and Tria Haec.

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The Thomasian Alumni Center

‘Q’ concert

Big names in the entertainment industry led by Thomasian singers Sarah Geronimo and Jamie Rivera, entertainers Jeffrey “Mr. Fu” Espiritu and John “Sweet” Lapus, and actors Albert Martinez and Archie Alemania, gave life to the ‘Q’ Grand Program on Jan. 27 last year at the UST Grandstand.

During the celebration, centenarian and Education alumna Amadea Medina was also honored in the event for being the oldest living Thomasian alumna.
Medina passed away last July 22 due to cardiac arrest at the coronary care unit of the UST Hospital.

‘Q’ Thanksgiving Mass

Papal envoy Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski led the Thomasian community and the local Church hierarchy in expressing gratitude to the Almighty Father for the University’s 400 years of existence in the Quadricentennial Eucharistic celebration at the UST Grandstand on Jan. 28 last year.

Assisted by former Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams, former Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales, former Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Grocholweski stressed the important role played by education in society.

Pope Benedict XVI took part in this once-in-a-lifetime celebration through a pre-recorded video message that highlighted UST’s place in history as the “oldest institution of higher learning in the Far East.” The Supreme Pontiff also acknowledged the University’s Jubilee Year and added that his video message was his way of “lending” himself to the Thomasian community spiritually and extending his affection and congratulations on such momentous celebration.

Grand alumni homecoming

Thomasian alumni returned to their second home for the grand homecoming titled “One@400” on Jan. 28 last year at the Plaza Mayor.

Among the notable alumni who had the chance to trace back their roots and relive their memories in the University were entrepreneur Joel Cruz, entertainer Beverly Salviejo, media practitioners Arnold Clavio and Ramon “Bong” Osorio, Mercury Drug owner Vivian Que Azcona, and Cainta, Rizal Mayor Ramon Ilagan. 

Simultaneously held was the “Quadri Fiesta” where students came together behind the Main Building and were treated to free lechon (roasted pork) and fried chicken.

Unveiling of the Quattromondial

One of the most awaited events during the Quadricentennial was the unveiling of the Quattromondial, a 10-meter high glass-and-bronze monument by world-renowned Thomasian artist Ramon Orlina.

The masterpiece, which features four human figures holding a Latin-inscribed ribbon that circles a globe that stands aloft the four, was revealed to the Thomasian community on Jan. 27 last year at the Quadricentennial Square.
The four human figures featured in the sculpture are symbols of the University’s values of excellence, tradition, erudition, and spirituality, respectively. Orlina personally selected the models: actor Piolo Pascual (male student), his daughter Monina (female student), 1994 Miss Universe semi-finalist Charlene Gonzales-Muhlach ( academician), and Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. (scholar-monk).

‘Largest’ human cross

In its second attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records, the Thomasian community formed the “largest human cross” on March 9 last year, Ash Wednesday.

Approximately 13,000 members of the Thomasian community gathered at the UST open field to form the black-and-white Dominican cross that symbolizes the Catholic and Dominican identity of UST.

The first attempt of the University to get a world record happened in December 2010 during the formation of the “largest human rosary” in time for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Faculty of Medicine and Surgery Regent Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P., said students suggested to form a human cross instead after the first attempt failed to enter the Guinness book.

The “largest cross” feat was officially recognized as a world record on Aug. 10, besting the record of Oslo, Switzerland, whose red cross gathered only 935 participants.

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Thanksgiving for departed Thomasians

EDU Quad 2011

The University hosted an international conference on educational technology from May 30 to 31 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC) auditorium.
The “EDU Quad International 2011,” organized by the UST Educational Technology Center, gathered delegates from the academe and technological industry from various countries to discuss issues on online learning and electronic development. The international confab focused on maximizing technology as a means to promote quality education among the youth.

Lecturers include professors Daniel Tan of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Lilian Vrijmoed of the City University of Hong Kong, Trisha Popov and Susan Stoney of Edith Cowan University in Australia, and Gerrit Bahlman of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Also present were Theresa Foo of Mc-Graw Hill Education Asia, Totie Gob of Acer Inc., and Leslie Wee and Jenn En Yee of software company Blackboard, Inc.

Paris Unesco Exhibit

The University was invited by no less than the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to showcase its rich 400-year history at the latter’s headquarters in Paris, France.

The exhibit—which featured highlights of the University’s achievements within the last four centuries, its key contributions to the Philippine society and culture, and its linkages and ties with the regional and international community—was mounted at the Salle de Pas Perdus in the Unesco Headquarters from Sept. 21 to 23 last year.

The exhibit was divided into the following sections: “Witness to History,” “Citizen to the World,” “Vanguard of Culture,” and “Custodian of Heritage.” It offered a broad perspective of the University’s journey throug the years through write-ups, photographs, and other visuals.

“The exhibit highlights the University’s achievements within the last four centuries, its key contributions to the Philippine society and culture, and its linkages and ties with the regional and international community,” Philippine Amabassador to France Cristina Ortega said during the opening ceremonies.
Attending the inauguration of the three-day exhibit in behalf of Unesco ‘s Director-General Irina Bokova, is Deputy Director-General Getachew Engida.
The opening of the exhibit was followed by a concert of two-time “Choir of the World” winner UST Singers at Salle I in the Unesco House.

Global sci-tech ethics confab

An international conference on Ethics in Science and Technology was organized by the University from Oct. 20 to 22 at the TARC, discussing the need to conform to ethical guidelines in pursuing developments in science and technology.

Yuan Tseh Lee, Nobel prize winner for chemistry in 1986, noted that “scientists have a responsibility for the consequences of their actions,” stressing the importance of fulfilling one’s social responsibilities especially in the scientific profession.

“Competition and individual development must not be prioritized,” Lee said in his keynote speech, addressing scientists, engineers, and ethicists from around 20 countries. “If we are to avoid catastrophe and ensure humanity’s continuation on this planet, the keyword for the next few decades will be transformation.”

Cyberethics in information technology, bioethics in genomics, nanoethics, a scientific code of conduct, and ethics in climate change were also discussed in the conference.

Among the international lecturers who graced the event were professors Johan Hatting of the Stellenbosch University in South Africa, Joachim Schummer of Karlsruhe University in Germany, and Clive Hamilton and John Weckert of Charles Sturt University in Australia.

QS-Apple conference

UST hosted the 8th Quacquarelli Symonds-Asia Pacific Professional Leaders in Education (QS-Apple) conference and exhibition that tackled “strategies to become a world-class university” at the Quadricentennial Pavilion from Nov. 16 to 18.

About 100 speakers from 22 countries presented papers discussing matters like the internationalization of the student body and curriculum, building world-class universities in the Asia-Pacific, transnational education and international partnerships, global higher education market, and social justice and access to higher education.

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'Chariots of fire'

“The purpose of the conference is really to bring people together from mainly across Asia-Pacific so they can share their experiences and exchange ideas on how to improve research, get more international teaching, and to make higher education accessible to developing countries,” said Nigel Healey, QS-Apple academic advisory committee chair.

QS Asia managing director Mandy Mok said the three-day conference gave opportunities for Philippine higher education leaders to “benefit from the QS-Apple learning and networking experience.”

New religious structures

The University honored Thomasian saints and martyrs as it dedicated its own “carillon” structure at the new Martyrs’ Monument Park last Nov. 22, while the new rosary garden was finally blessed last Dec. 7.

The Martyrs’ Monument Park in front of the Santisimo Rosario Parish features a free-standing bell tower that tunes every hour and rings a particular melody during noon and 6 p.m. to signal the praying of the Angelus. It was built in honor of Thomasians martyrs in Japan, Vietnam, and Spain. The “Rosarium,” located at the right side of the Main Building (formerly known as the Tinoko Park), features a “visual form of the rosary” where students can pray and reflect.

The Rector said that with the establishment of the “Rosarium,” Thomasians will be reminded of the importance of the rosary not just in their personal lives, but in the University as well.

The “Rosarium” was blessed during the visit of the centuries-old image of the Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval in UST.

Conference on UST’s culture and heritage

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.

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.

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.

Premio Tomas

No grand winners emerged from Premio Tomas, the Quadricentennial Literary Contest, during the awarding ceremony at the Alfredo M. Velayo–Accountancy Hall last February 8.

But special jury prizes were awarded to Reynaldo Duque for epic poetry (Premio Recto), Joni Cham for the novel (Premio Jose) and Jose Victor Torres for creative nonfiction or essay (Premio Mabini).

No special jury prize was given for full length drama in three acts, or Premio Tinio. According to the National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, the chair of Premio Tinio jury, no entry was a deserving theatre piece.

The judges were Florentino Hornedo, Rebecca Añonuevo Cuñada, and Michael Coroza (epic poetry); F. Sionil Jose, Charlson Ong and J. Neil Garcia (novel); Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Jose Wendell Capili and D.M. Reyes (expanded creative nonfiction or essay collection) aside from Lumbera, other judges were Priscelina Patajo–Legasto, and Vim Nadera (full-length drama).

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