Do you remember your own high school and college days? Those days of new discoveries – having your first crush, falling in love (or you thought you did), meeting lots of friends, having a crush on one of your professors, aspiring to be a poet (because you want to remember everything about your first love) – you name it, perhaps those days are a little obscured now but they are not forgotten. They simply fade in one’s memory and when you think of them, you smile and reminisce.
I remember the days when my classmates and I used to squat on these same fields while eating mani and kornik laced with chili oil. Back in our time, this cobbled walk way was simply cemented and the century old trees had concrete benches underneath.
Ah, the familiar landmark and statue of Fr. Miguel de Benavidez, OP the founder of the University. It’s the first thing that will greet you on your way to the UST Main building. This bronze statue “rises on top of a granite pedestal flanked by four lions each bearing the coats-of-arms of the Philippines, Spain, Holy See, and the Dominican Order. He dons the rugged habit of the pioneer Dominican missionaries. His right hand is elevated in the preaching fashion, his index finger pointing to heavens. His left hand rests on his chest holding a book bearing the words Santo Evangélico on its cover. A skull-cap covers his head, and a pectoral cross hangs from his neck, the symbols of Episcopal dignity.”
I miss this place. I spent nine years of my life here, from the tender young age of 12 to a young lady of 21 when I left its doors.
And every chance I get, I take pictures of the place, remembering those days – campus life – it seems so long ago but it is still achingly familiar.
The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines, in short, we, alumni and students alike, fondly call it it USTe.
Today, we are celebrating the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Patron Saint of UST. The university was named after him. And it’s the beginning of the neo-centennial year of UST.