FORMER UST rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. marked the Varsitarian’s 95th anniversary with a plea to continue cultivating writers who will use the power of the word for meaningful change.

In his homily during the Mass prior to the “Valik-Varsi: The Varsitarian Grand Alumni Homecoming” on Saturday, Jan. 14, de la Rosa, a former Varsitarian Witness editor, lamented that technology had caused “worsening deterioration of language and the gradual loss of people’s interest to read.”

“[F]alsehood can be manufactured, glamorized, advertised and perpetuated as the truth. Public discourse has been trivialized and cheapened, leading to the demise of the values of journalism like honesty, fairness, accuracy, and truthfulness,” he said during the Mass concelebrated by fellow alumni-priests, Fr. Isidro Marinay of the Archdiocese of Manila and Fr. Nicanor Lalog II of the Diocese of Malolos.

These falsehoods, de la Rosa said, have compromised writers, who have become focused on themselves rather than what’s best for the public.

“Technology, social networking and the mass media have greatly affected writers today, pushing them to concentrate on individuality at the expense of their concern for the collective good,” he said.

Writing the “cogent” and “painful” word is, therefore, necessary to rectify mistakes, he said.

De la Rosa, a former chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), cited a Varsitarian campaign in 1979 that called for the closure of establishments near UST selling liquor and luring students to vices. 

He also pointed to an extensive investigative report on zoning violations in the University Belt published by the paper in 2001, based on a proposal that won the “Truth Award” given by the Institute on Church and Social Issues at the Ateneo de Manila University.

The Varsitarian has lent its voice to various movements in its 95-year existence, including the civil disobedience campaign after the rigged 1986 snap elections that led to the People Power Revolution, and the call for the abolition of mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in 2001 together with the University Belt consortium, following the death of cadet officer Mark Welson Chua.

As the publication starts the countdown toward its centenary, de la Rosa hopes the “V” will continue to be an avenue where truth is explored through writers who have the passion and courage to help the country move forward.

“[W]e need writers whose love for writing matches their passionate commitment to improving our country that is suffering from many generations of nightmares and shattered dreams,” he said.

De la Rosa, who was at the helm of UST from 1990 to 1998 and 2007 to 2012, is one of two UST rectors honed by the Varsitarian in the past 95 years, alongside Fr. Norberto Castillo, O.P., a former managing editor. Fr. Juan Labrador, O.P., who was one of the first two moderators of the paper, became rector in 1961.

“Valik-Varsi” 2023 took place at the Blessed Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Building Lobby and Mezzanine, graced by prominent figures in journalism, arts, letters and politics such as communications scholar Crispin Maslog, former senator Francisco Tatad, award-winning fictionist-essayist Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, renowned artist Remedios Boquiren, Manila Bulletin columnist Nestor Cuartero, Associated Press chief correspondent Jim Gomez, award-winning poet Vim Nadera, and musician and broadcast personality Lourd de Veyra.


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