THE VARSITARIAN, the university’s official student publication, reached another milestone in Philippine campus journalism, celebrating its 85th year last Jan. 16.

To cap off the sapphire anniversary celebration, the Varsitarian hosted the “Valik-Varsi” grand alumni homecoming last Jan. 26 at the Harbor Garden Tent of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City.

Among who attended were National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera; veteran writers Gloria Garchitorena Goloy, Adoracion Trinidad-Gamalinda and Alice Collet-Villadolid, artist Remy Boquiren; and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz, among others.

As the oldest Catholic paper’s anniversary coincided with the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI, the Varsitarian also honored its alumni who devoted their lives to the Church.

Piece of history

In 1927, a group of students led by Jose Villa Panganiban, dubbed as the “Father of the Varsitarian” who would later become director of the National Language Institute, lobbied for a university-wide paper.

It wasn’t easy, but Panganiban and the others managed to convince rector Fr. Serapio Tamayo, O.P. after long and arduous trials prompted some of Panganiban’s friends to abandon the cause. By morning of Jan. 16, 1928, the first issue of the Varsitarian was published.

Eighty-five years later, the Varsitarian remains the premiere chronicler of Asia’s oldest and only Pontifical university, reporting University-wide and national news, especially issues involving the Church.

Star-studded alumni

The Varsitarian is the only campus paper to be included in the Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia for having produced a roster of top writers and artists.

Some of its prominent alumni include National Artists for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Lumbera, National Artist for the Visual Arts J. Elizalde Navarro, Paz Latorena, Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta, Rogelio Sicat, Cirilo Bautista, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Celso Al. Carunungan, former Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson, former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez, former Asean secretary general Narcisco Reyes, former senator Francisco Tatad, former Philippine Medical Association president Vicenter Rosales, Sr, former New York Times correspondent and press undersecretary Alice Colet-Villadolid, ABS-CBN corporate communications head Ramon Osorio, PLDT Senior Vice President Jun Florencio, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnists Rina Jimenez-David and Neil Cruz, Manila Bulletin associate editor Jullie Yap Daza, press freedom hero Jose Burgos Jr., actor Bernardo Bernardo, and Sr. Delia Coronel, vice president for research of the Mindanao State University who was the first Catholic nun to be kidnapped by Moro rebels.

The Thomasian as philistine

Two of UST’s former rectors—Fr. Norberto Catillo, O.P. and Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., the “Quadricentennial Rector” who became Commission on Higher Education chairman—are also from the Varsitarian.

UST’s official student publication had been named Best Edited College paper in the Philippines by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, which the Varsitarian co-founded, 26 times.It is a recipient of numerous awards such as the Gawad Batingaw, and Gawad Pedro Bukaneg, among others.

Seven Varsitarian alumni—Dimalanta, Lumbera, Sicat, Bautista, Pantoja-Hidalgo, Yap-Daza, and Juan Gatbonton—have received the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, a prestigious award for writers given by the Union ng mga Manunulat ng Pilipinas (Umpil).

Jose and Lumbera, on the other hand, are recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award—Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize.


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