National Artist for Literature and Varsitarian alumnus Bienvenido Lumbera leads the cake-cutting ceremony during the grand alumni homecoming of the Varsitarian on Saturday. Photo by Michael Angelo M. Reyes

Varsitarian alumni in the arts, letters and other fields came home to the University on Saturday to raise a glass to the country’s most influential campus paper on its 90th anniversary.

Editors of the ‘V’ vowed to keep the paper’s mission to uphold the truth as they paid tribute to former editors and staff members who lived through the nation’s upheavals over the past nine decades.

“Despite attempts to shake down and suppress the freedom of some media organizations critical of the administration, the V continues to uphold veritas, the truth, and speak out against any form of suppression,” said Amierielle Anne Bulan, editor in chief of the Varsitarian.

Managing Editor Bernadette Pamintuan said the ‘V’ was strongly against efforts to silence dissent. “It has also been using its voice to condemn attempts to erase and desecrate the Filipinos’ collective memory of Martial Law atrocities through the hero’s burial of the late dictator in 2016,” she said.

In a Thanksgiving Mass, Fr. Virgilio Ojoy, O.P, former UST vice rector and ‘V’ associate editor, said journalists should embody “truth and goodness” to inspire people to work together and make the nation a livable place for younger generations.

“As future journalists, the Varsitarian staff and alumni play a huge role to recover that hope and drive even if there are threats to seal our lips,” Ojoy said in his homily.

Radyo Veritas anchor and former ‘V’ reporter Fr. Nicanor “Nick” Lalog was the main celebrant.

Communications scholar Crispin Maslog, Manila Bulletin editor Nestor Cuartero, poet Vim Nadera and director Alberto Monteras II recalled how they put the paper to bed during their days as campus journalists in a video presentation.

The cake-cutting ceremony was led by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and was followed by a countdown to the ‘V’ centennial in 2028, as the UST Symphony Orchestra performed “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The UST Singers also sang “Hallelujah” from Handel’s “Messiah.”

The Varsitarian has upheld campus press freedom in the past nine decades, former New York Times correspondent Alice Colet-Villadolid said.

Villadolid said the ‘V’ advisers fought for the students’ press freedom despite restrictions in a Catholic University.

Sister Regina Kuizon, provincial of the Religious of the Good Shepherd and a former ‘V’ adviser, said the Varsitarian had always sided with the truth in reporting national and University issues.

“[It] has shown that it always reports what is the truth in the country and in the University. It has always witnessed what the University stands for,” she said.

The Varsitarian, founded on Jan. 16, 1928, is the Philippines’ oldest Catholic newspaper and one of the oldest student publications.

Founded by a group of students led by Jose Villa Panganiban, the Varsitarian produced journalistic and literary titans such as Arsenio Lacson, Felix Bautista, Jose Burgos, Jullie Yap-Daza, Neal Cruz, Jake Macasaet, Francisco Tatad, Antonio Lopez, Alice Colet-Villadolid, Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Norma Miraflor, Eric Gamalinda, Vim Nadera, and Eugenia Duran-Apostol. It has produced four National Artists: Cirilo Bautista, Bienvenido Lumbera, J. Elizalde Navarro and F. Sionil José.


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