Thursday, January 27, 2011

If there was no UST, then there would have been no Filipino nation

This week the Universidad de Santo Tomas celebrates her 400th year. The Dominican run UST is the Philippines' only ancient university and all others including Ateneo (a Jesuit re foundation in the 1850s) and the 112 year old University of the Philippines are very much younger. Although the Jesuits established an older college which became a short lived university, this was closed when the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines in 1767.

The truth is there would have been NO FILIPINO NATION had there been no UST. The UST trained many firsts, starting with Filipino priests, theologians, lawyers, artists, pharmacists, physicians and surgeons and scientists. Despite her most famous alum  Dr Jose Rizal's unflattering portrait of how UST taught science in El Filibusterismo, UST in truth advanced Science in the Philippines . Her professors of natural history wrote the first scientific publications on Philippine biodiversity. She has produced the first eminent scientists like Anacleto del Rosario, Leon Ma Guerrero and of course Antonio Luna. She also produced eminent jurists like Cayetano Arellano, the first Filipino Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The UST also produced literary greats like Fernando Maria Guerrero and F Sionil Jose.

It doesn't surprise us that the Royal and Pontifical University will be the seedbed for reform and revolution for she trained her students to critically think and while she initially sided with the Spanish colonizers, she later accepted that the Filipino nation is largely her doing. Manuel Quezon, Emilio Jacinto and Apolinario Mabini were alums of the Faculty of Civil Law. This is the context by which we have to remember UST's contribution to the Philippines this year.

At the foundation of the state run and secular University of the Philippines, in 1911 the first President Dr Murray Bartlett paid tribute to UST's contribution in to the nation by saying "In our infancy, we felicitate the venerable University of Santo Tomas for graduating many illustrious Filipinos from her halls"

For many years afterward, following medieval tradition, at every UP President's inauguration the Rector Magnificus of UST had precedence over all visiting professors from other universities.

The UST has committed itself to teaching and research excellence while maintaining affordable tuition fees. And this is the reason why many of the seniors in my family attended the Royal and Pontifical University despite many of them holding views that ran contrary to the Catholicism of the time. Nevertheless, they have expressed a large debt of gratitude to the Dominicans of the UST.

And so the UST continues to build the Filipino nation.

Mabuhay ang Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas!

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