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And I thought the fireworks the other night are lovely but this is even more beautiful –  the culmination of the week-long celebration of the 400th year of University of Santo Tomas – UST Quadricentennial Alumni Night Pyromusical!

Go USTe, Viva Santo Tomas, Proud to be a Thomasian!

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I am in the middle of reading Power Moms, my fourth book read this year and a gift from my son last Christmas.  It’s another volume of  Chicken Soup For The Soul.   How do you define someone who’s on the go five days a week, wearing corporate attire the whole time and someone who, from sunrise to sundown stays at home and  work her way sorting piles of dirty clothes, keeping the house clean, sweeping the yard, preparing lunch, breakfast or dinner?  Sometimes, I hear friends say, “where do you work?” and when you answer that you are a stay-at-home-mom, they shake their head in disbelief and follows the question with , “so you are not working?”.  My goodness, if being on your toes twelve hours a day is not considered work, what is?

Life’s choices are yours to make. Ten years ago, I was one of those people who was  always in a hurry to catch a ride at 7am  just to get to the bank where I worked on  time.  Housework was always relegated to a domestic help.  Ten years ago, I opted for an early retirement, a major decision that I didn’t regret.  Back then, my oldest kid was only starting college and my youngest was in grade school.  Having only one breadwinner in the family  was quite hard but we learned to adjust.  Those years  spent  close to my growing kids were quite the best years of  what I call “being a mom”. There is a big difference when you personally supervise everything at home, take care of their needs and  you are always  available to them when they need you.  Being a mom is not a nine-to-five job, being a mom is forever.

Yes, if there are power moms, we have those power moments too.  I would just want to share the last time I cried buckets because of sheer joy.  My  two kids and I graduated from the same university.  Compared to them, I was  a working student when I was in college.  My daughter was a consistent honors student from preparatory school to university and my son was in the honor roll until high school.  You can just imagine my proud smiles every time I went up the stage to accompany them during school’s closing exercises.  The best thing though was when my daughter graduated from university.  Hubby (who was then working abroad) and I were not exactly expecting that she graduates on top of her class, we were just so glad that finally, we have a daughter who was about to earn a college degree.  A week before graduation, my daughter was busy scouting and submitting CVs to some companies while waiting for the big day, then I got this call from one of her professors. He told me that they just finished their deliberation and my daughter was graduating as Magna Cum Laude. Wow, I could not speak, she made it.  The Latin honors indicate the level of distinction with which an academic degree was earned.

Hubby came home just to attend the graduation.  It was the first time I set foot at PICC  (Philippine International Convention Center)where the graduation ceremonies was held. We were seated in front of the stage, a privilege for parents whose kids were included in the honor roll. She was the only one in her batch of Communication Arts majors who graduated  Magna Cum Laude and she was also awarded the recognition for Academic Excellence two weeks before graduation.

That’s what I call my power moments, when you are proud that your children have achieved something on their own. The day she came home to learn about the good news was the same day she was offered her first job.

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Reminiscing.  Remembering. Going back to one’s school of learning! My two close friends, Sr.  Thea, FMM and Grace  had our once-in-a- year reunion (sometimes once in two years) last January 04, 2011 and we decided to meet at UST before taking lunch later.  We retraced our steps from the Chapel (it’s actually a parish) but we were used to calling it simply the chapel back in our time.

We used to call this the Pharmacy Garden. I wonder if they have changed its name since we left UST.  The short stretch of road is the shortcut going to the chapel.

Come to think of it, I didn’t take any picture at the front of the Main Building since that has always been the focus of my camera every time I get the chance to take a few shots  here.  This is actually the back of the Main Building and at the far corner is the College of Commerce where I took  BSC Economics.   Far left is the Quadricentennial Square where you could find an interactive fountain and al fresco sites. Ramon Orlina’s sculpture, Tetraglobal was covered in blue cloth so I was not able to take shot of it.

I love this corner, it used to house the UST Main Library where I spent almost three years working as a Student Library Assistant.   Those were the days where I learned to truly be a bookworm.

Santisimo  Rosario Parish or the  Chapel,a silent witness to lots of fervent prayers everyday.  One of my favorite places in the campus.  It has undergone a facelift . Back in our time, we only had those large overhead electric fans but now, it is fully air-conditioned.

This is the main altar.  How I’ve missed this place.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

I love the intricate design of the steel doors going to the UST Seminary.  And the image of Mama Mary is simply beautiful.

This is the back of the  Miguel de Benavidez  Library where the Quadricentennial Square is located. I was aiming at the cross atop the Main Building but it was a little too far.

Couldn’t get enough..haha!

Another shot of the Chapel. This building houses the UST Central Seminary, Father’s Residence, Ecclesiastical  Faculties Library  and the Santisimo Rosario Parish.

Ah, the football field with the giant Christmas tree used during the Paskuhan 2010 and besides it is the  UST grandstand.In a few days, UST will be celebrating its Quadricentennial Year.

I am re-posting this particular shot which I took last March 2010. It’s the front view of the UST Main Building.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS – The Pontifical, Royal and Catholic University of the Philippines. Proud to be a Thomasian!  Viva USTe!

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It has been thirty years since I left the portals of UST, how time has flown! I was about eight or nine years old when I first set foot at the University when my father took me to his office (UST High School) one summer break. What left an indelible mark was the vast field of greens and the imposing and awesome facade of the UST Main Building. I promised myself that won’t be the last time that I would visit the place because I wanted to study there too.

That dream was nurtured by my father’s desire for all his children (my three brothers and I) to embrace a good Catholic education. And so in the summer of 1969 (you might say, it’s so ancient), I took the high school entrance exams at the UST Education High School. I remember, I had it at the office of the principal, Mrs. Gloria Hernandez since I was late for the official date of examination for new students. Graduating from a public school during my elementary years and from the province at that really made me quite nervous. I never thought I would pass the qualifying exams for incoming high school students. That started my nine years of stay at the university.

Back then, UST High School which we know as “pay high” was a one-storey affair at the back of the Main Building fronting what used to be called the Resto. I was already in college when that building was burned down and it was then that the present High School building was erected. My father worked there for almost thirty two years and he retired from office in 1987. For those who are not aware, UST has two high schools, one of which is the Education High School, a training institution for graduating students at the College of Education. It extends support to bright but financially handicapped students by means of lower tuition fees. The former building of Educ High was located in front of the UST Hospital. I think it was only during our sophomore year that we transferred to the present site, the Albertus Magnus Bldg. (Education Bldg.).

What I remember most during my student years? Plenty – the ice cream vendor near the Canteen of the Education building, College Inn in Espana, “cornik” and “mani” laced with hot and spicy oil in Dapitan, “banana q” at P. Noval, the knee-high deep waters during typhoons, the evening walks along Espana while waiting for a ride home with some classmates and friends, the early morning masses at the UST Chapel, the occasional walks at the quadrangle area with classmates, the fear of not passing the qualifying exams for Economics majors, (thank God I did it) the struggle of solving problems in our Statistics class, the research works and feasibility studies in our Economics subjects and a lot more. But what really made my stay in UST worthwhile was my three-year stint as a student librarian at the Humanities Section of the UST Main Library. If you ask me, I would say, those were the best years of my teenage life. It was there that I met all my wonderful friends, it was there that I learned the value of work, it was there that I got to know that there is a different world out there – the world of books!

I had a chance to go back again and took pictures of the place last Saturday, February 14, 2009. Some moments to treasure, a few minutes reminiscing on the UST that I knew which is indelibly etched in my mind.

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IMGP2320
IMGP2308IMGP2330The Arch of Centuries
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Fountain of Wisdom as seen from the top
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The  Football Field
It was founded on April 28, 1611 by Fr. Miguel de Benavides, O.P. The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, the Catholic University of the Philippines. Simply known as UST but for us alumni and students alike, we fondly and affectionately call it Uste. 

UST is a private Roman Catholic University run by the Order of Preachers in Manila. It is the only Pontifical University in Asia. It is the only university (Catholic or not) to have been visited by two popes three times, twice by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995 and once by Pope Paul VI in 1970 (I was in second year high school then).

It was built in a 215,000 sq. meter campus in Sampaloc, Manila. The university was originally located within the walled city of Intramuros, Manila.

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UST Main Building
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Miguel de Benavidez Monument

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