Historian Jose Victor Torres discusses what went on during the University’s tricentennial celebration in 1911. Photo by John Daniel J. Hirro

UST HAS produced 19, not 15, martyrs, a priest-alumnus claimed in a lecture during the Neo-centennial week, but said that despite contradicting researches, the fact that the University became home to holy men is proof of its capacity to hone spirituality.

Fr. Noel Abalajon, vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Capiz, proposed two more names to the list of UST martyrs at the “Velada Tomasina Commemorative Lectures” last Jan. 25, in addition to two names he had previously “added” to the original roster drawn by the respected Dominican historian Fr. Fidel Villarroel, O.P.

They are St. Jacinto Castañeda Puchasons, O.P. and St. Clemente Ignacio Delgado, O.P., who were among the Dominican martyrs of Vietnam. In 2007, Abalajon proposed the addition of the names of St. Jeronimo Hermosilla and St. Melchor Garcia Sampedro, who were also martyred in Vietnam.

Puchasons and Delgado were students of the Faculty of Sacred Theology from 1763 to 1765 and 1786 to 1788, respectively. “UST has undeniably served as a fertile ground for these martyrs … whose holy deaths [have] become living testimonies of their unwavering belief in Jesus,” said Abalajon, who wore the traditional black cassock and biretta in keeping with the day’s festivities.

In an e-mail to the Varsitarian, he explained: “I based my findings on the following books: Misioneros Dominicos en el Extremo Oriente, Witnesses of the Faith in the Orient by a team of Dominican Fathers, but most importantly, [the] actual Positio of these Vietnamese martyrs found at our UST Archives.” The positio is the historical document making the case for sainthood.

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Five of the total of 19 UST martyrs—St. Antonio Gonzales, O.P.; St. Domingo Ibañez de Erquicia, O.P.; St. Guillaume Courtet, O.P.; St. Lucas del Espiritu Santo, O.P.; and St. Thomas Hioji de San Jacinto, O.P.—were martyred in Japan and were companions of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II on Feb. 18, 1981 and canonized on Oct.18, 1987.

Meanwhile, eight were martyred in Vietnam– St. Vicente Liem de la Paz, O.P.; St. Domingo Henares, O.P.; St. Jose Ma. Diaz Sanjurjo, O.P.; St. Pedro Jose Almato Ribera Auras, O.P.; St. Jeronimo Hermosilla, O.P.; St. Melchor Garcia Sampedro, O.P.; St. Jacinto Castañeda Puchasons, O.P.; and St. Clemente Ignacio Delgado, O.P. They were beatified on different dates but were all canonized on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

Six were martyrs of the religious persecution in Spain in the 1930s. Blessed Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P.; Blessed Jesus Villaverde Andres, O.P.; Blessed Pedro Ibañez Alonso, O.P.; Blessed Manuel Moreno Martinez, O.P.; Blessed Maximino Fernandez Marinas, O.P.; and Blessed Jose Ma. Lopez Carrillo, O.P. studied, taught, and served in the University in the latter part of the 19th until the 20th century.

“We included Blessed Marinas and Blessed Carillo, based on the following sources: Misioneros Dominicos en el Extremo Oriente by Fr. Eladio Neira, O.P. and Fr. Hilario Ocio, O.P. (Vols. 1 and 2); the two-volume Positio of these 2007 beatified martyrs; and the old book Martires Dominicos de la Cruzada Espanola by Fr. Luis Getino, O.P.,” Abalajon said in his e-mail.

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Abalajon also said in his lecture that out of the 219 Filipino bishops produced by the Philippine Church, 111 or 51 percent came from UST, while 80 or 70 percent of the 111 Dominican priests studied at the UST Central Seminary.

During the Japanese occupation in 1942, five Japanese soldiers were admitted to the UST Central Seminary, where they finished Sacred Theology before becoming priests, he noted.

Out of the five, Fr. Joseph Isamu Ikeda was the most memorable as he decided to pursue an ecclesiastical vocation despite the objection of his family. He entered the University in 1943 and was ordained in 1945 by then Manila Archbishop Michael O’ Doherty.

Treasures of the past

Also in the “Velada Tomasina” lectures, UST archivist Regalado Trota Jose presented a number of interesting documents found in the University archives, like the Foundation Act of the University in 1611, old volumes in Philosophy (1636), Theology (1564), and Canon Law (18th century), and the oldest known construction plan of the University in Intramuros, dating to the 1680s.

Two deeds of sale for land (1613 and 1625) in Mayhaligue, Manila and Tondo, written in the pre-Spanish language of baybayin, were also shown in the lecture.

Jose displayed the grades of national heroes Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Apolinario Mabini, as well as the theses of Jose Burgos, Mariano Sevilla, and Ambrosio Villafranca.

The UST Archives also has a record of all students from the provinces during the 19th century, which, according to Jose, is a good source for the study of genealogy as well as regional groups.

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A first-edition copy of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere (1886, published in Berlin) was also presented, together with a copy of La Solidaridad, the newspaper published by Filipino propagandists fighting Spanish colonial rule.

Historian Jose Victor Torres showed the plans for and events held during UST’s tricentennial celebration in 1911.

The five-day celebration was led by then rector Fr. Jose Noval, O.P., after whom the street closest to the UST Central Seminary was named.

Highlights of the University’s 300th anniversary included a feast for the indigents, a banquet for the internos (working scholars), a grand parade, a thanksgiving Mass, and “mini Olympics.”

It was during this celebration when the bronze plaque of the Benavides Monument at Plaza Santo Tomas in Intramuros was unveiled, and the cornerstone-laying ceremony at the site of the new Sulucan campus (the current campus) was held.

Torres also shared interesting trivia like the menu during the banquet and sports competitions held during the 300th year celebrations.

“The tricentenary was a grand celebration given by UST in a time of trials of change. It proved one thing, not only to the Dominicans but to the Filipinos it has long served to educate, that the University was there to stay … in the years to come,” Torres said. Patricia Isabela B. Evangelista with reports from Maria Arra L. Perez

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