Varsitarian editor in chief John Ezekiel Hirro (left) and managing editor Eduelle Jan Macababbad (right) receive the 'Best Catholic Organization Website' award accorded to the publication's website ( during the 2023 Catholic Social Media Awards. (Photo by Josh Nikkolai S. Bravo/ The Varsitarian)

THE Varsitarian, the 95-year-old official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas, bagged the Best Catholic Organization Website award during the 2023 Catholic Social Media Awards (CSMA) at the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu on Dec. 3.

The “V” website was first launched in 2000. In 2015, the publication transitioned to a digital-first approach, with most content uploaded first on the website and distributed through social media.

“We remain committed to promoting a culture of journalistic excellence guided by the principles of social communication in accordance with the Church’s teachings and the Dominican pursuit of veritas or truth,” said John Ezekiel Hirro, editor in chief of the publication, in his acceptance speech. 

Aside from winning the award, the “V” was also a finalist in three other categories: Best X (formerly Twitter), Best Instagram and Photo of the Year.

Images by Varsitarian photo editor Josh Bravo, photographer Kenneth Landazabal and alumni photographers Joselle Reyes and Marvin Uy were among the finalists for the Photo of the Year Award.

Other winners in the website category were Sto. Sipulcro Parish-Laguna (Best Parish Website), Diocese of Malolos (Best Diocesan Website), and National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Best National Shrine Website). 

During the awards night, the CSMA also recognized the Minor Basilica and Shrine Parish of Our Lady of Rosary in Bataan (Best Parish Facebook Page), Archdiocese of Cebu (Best Diocesan Facebook Page), National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Best National Shrine Facebook Page), CFC-Youth For Christ (Best Catholic Organization Facebook Page), and Spread the Light ( Best Catholic Online Community Facebook Page) in the Facebook category. 

The winners in the Social Media category were radio host Fr. Jessel “Jboy” Gonzales (Best Instagram), pro-life youth group Live Pure Movement (Best X), motivational speaker Arun Gogna (Best TikTok), “Almusalita” by Fr. Luciano Felloni (Best YouTube), “The Pads Cast” (Best Podcast), and Hallow (Best Catholic App).

In the Special Awards category, the winners were Allyza Villamiel (Photo of the Year), Feast Books (Catholic Online Shop of the Year), and “Panata sa Puso” by Fr. Manoling Francisco (Best Catholic Song of the Year).

Fr. Fiel Pareja, who is behind the “Daily Devotion” videos in TikTok, and Shayne Funcion, a travel content creator, were feted with the Male Social Media Influencer and Female Social Media Influencer awards, respectively.  

This year’s Hall of Fame awardees were the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Jesus Nazareno Quiapo Church and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. 

CSMA nominees were ranked according to the criteria of content impact (30 percent), innovative practice and uniqueness (20 percent), content relevance (20 percent), responsiveness (10 percent), following, supporters and engagement rate (10 percent), and copyright protection (10 percent).

The Varsitarian first received the Best Catholic Organization Website citation in 2020. 

The CSMA is organized by Youth Pinoy in collaboration with Areopagus Communications Inc. and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Media Office.


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