Three popes visited this university 4 times. The latest was during Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines. Is it any wonder then why the University of Santo Tomas (UST) is called the "Pontifical University" conferred by Pope Leo XIII in 1902? It was originally conceived as an institution that prepares young men for priesthood. It used to rise in the heart of Intramuros. Archibishop Miguel de Benavides founded it in 1611. Since then, it has transferred to its present location in Espana, Manila where a beautiful campus sprawls on 21.5 hectares of prime land. Cebu's University of San Carlos was founded by the Jesuits in 1595.
As we all know, titles don't mean squat to colonizing forces. Acts of benevolence during those cantankerous times were mostly "shows", temporary bouts of lucidity. The Spaniards kept on with their abuses and persecution of the "indios" who were regarded as 3rd class citizens in their own land. This went on for almost half a century, imagine that.
For 3 years between 1942 to 1945, UST ceased operation because the Japanese invaders turned it into an internment camp. In 1947, Pope Pius XII bestowed upon it the title, "Catholic University of the Philippines".
These days, UST boasts of one of the biggest enrollees in Asia. It has also produced the best physicians in the country. Spanish is taught here - and there's an interesting museum located at the main building. An art pieces designed by Ramon Orlina is on display at the back of the main building.
UST is under the direct patronage of the Vatican.
A few years ago, UST administration decided to build a medical tower that was going to compete with the modern facilities of new medical centers like St. Luke's, Asian Hospital, Medical City. This was going to cost around PhP3 billion. The project was submitted to the office of the Pope. This was regrettably rejected which was unfortunate because their training medical facility needs upgrade and requires to evolve to compete with the modern times. What was approved instead was a sports complex, a 4-story gymnasium, worth PhP800 million. No matter how I add up the equation, this just doesn't make sense. After all, UST's charity wards service a lot of indigents. It's also a humane training ground for young physicians. These population will benefit from an improved training medical center; one that will compete not just with current national medical trends, but with global trends.
A university conferred with 3 titles (pontifical, royal, catholic) should be able to upgrade itself, not just in terms of facility and educational advancement. Instead, they've developed its sports facilities. Maybe they're prioritizing preparations for the Olympics? ;)
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|A spot at the Quadricentennial Square
|The path to Plaza Mayor
|The 80-year-old Main Building
|Arch of the Century
|Quattromondial represents the younf Filipino student who embraces wisdom to conquer the world in the name of faith and humanity.
|Pope Francis in UST. This photo only courtesy of Yahoo News and Reuters.