Friday, August 04, 2006


Notably the oldest university in Asia (even older than Harvard), although it is disputed by the University of San Carlos in Cebu, which was founded in 1595 but became a university only in 1948.

The foundation of the University of Santo Tomas is attributed to Miguel de Benavides, third Archbishop of Manila. He arrived in the Philippines in 1587 along with the first Dominican mission and was promoted archbishop of Manila in 1601. Upon his death in 1605, he bequeathed his library and personal fortune worth 1,500 pesos to be used as seed money for establishing a school of higher learning to prepare young men for the priesthood.

Fr. Bernardo de Santa Catalina carried out his wishes and was able to secure a building near the Dominican church and convent in Intramuros for this school. It was first called Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario and later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomas in memory of the foremost Dominican Theologian, Saint Thomas Aquinas.

It was granted permission by King Philip II to open as a college in 1611. In 1624, it was authorized to confer academic degrees in Theology, Philosophy, and Arts. Pope Innocent X elevated the College to the rank of a university in 1645 and in 1680, placed under royal patronage. In 1785, King Charles III granted it the title of “Royal University”. Pope Leo XIII made the University of Santo Tomas a “Pontifical University” in 1902. In 1927, with the continuing increase in enrollment, the University moved from Intramuros to its present site which covers an area of 21.5 hectares in the district of Sampaloc. In 1947, Pope Pius XII bestowed upon it the title “The Catholic University of the Philippines”.

During World War II, the Japanese converted the campus into a concentration camp for civilians, foreigners and POWs. After the war, the university resumed its mission and continues to be one of the more prestigious universities in the country.

Its official title is now The Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines. It has approximately 35,000 students consisting of 30,000 undergraduate students and 5,000 students in Medicine, Law, Conservatory of Music and the Graduate School. It also boasts a 460-bed full-pledged hospital for charity and clinical patients.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 6:12 AM


Blogger houseband00 said...

Hey Eric,

Great post!

Santo Tomas is really a beautiful school to look at.

All that history!

August 04, 2006 9:18 AM  

Blogger Rey said...

As a child, I've always dreamth of studying in this University. Maybe becasue of it's history and the reputation the school brings to its graduate. I conditioned myself to just UST. It's Mecca. It's Bethlehem. It's Valhalla. No other else...

But it was never meant to be. I studied in the Visayas because my family cannot afford to send me to UST.

But the good thing is that as i grew wiser,I found out that talent, unlike skill, canot be taught. So nawala na rin yung panghihinayang ko.

I came to UST's doors first when I entered my first Architecture students' convention. Man, how I relish the school. I think i posed in every bloody damn corner of the school. I've had several visits since then, the last time when I took the board exam on 1997.

You know the song "Georgia on my mind" by Ray Charles? It's kinda weird but I kinda relate UST to that.

August 04, 2006 11:06 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in Manila for quite a lengthy time, I used to pass by UST almost on a daily basis and watch the great facade of the main building. It was just regretful that I haven't had the inclination to enter the campus at that time and see the campus in its entirety; one very famous campus I say.

August 04, 2006 2:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the thousand students from the Conservatory of Music (my alma mater).

UST is indeed beautiful. The sunset from the 5th floor of the Education Building facing the Main Building is just majestic.

I just don't know why it's still called royal when I doubt if it still gets anything from Spain. We also used to sing the university hymn and I recall that there is still an allusion to "Mother Spain."

I do know it became pontifical when Pope John Paul II visited UST when he was in the Philippines. I forgot what year but that's when they renovated all the bathrooms. :)

August 04, 2006 4:46 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Indeed, it's a beautiful campus and so rich in history, Houseband00! Thank you!

Yes, I know that song quite well, Rey -- one of my favorites by Ray Charles. And you're right -- for the most part, talent is inherent, but for the persistent and the committed, it may be acquired, but could be a lifetime endeavor.

I'm sure there were many who aspired to attend UST for the same reasons you had. Actually, I met a couple of doctors in NY who wished they had attended UST. It is really a fine school.

And thanks for sharing your anecdote with us, Rey!

August 04, 2006 7:50 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Like you, Major Tom, I was always attracted by the school's archway and well-kep grounds everytime I drove by along Espana. So one day, I just turned right into its driveway and asked the guard if I could go in and snap some pics.. Thanks God he said ok. It was sort of drizzling that afternoon so I never got a chance to explore the grounds more.

Ok, I will amend the entry and include that fact, Toe. You were fortunate to have attended such a fine school. Are you a clasical performer now or a teacher?

August 04, 2006 7:55 PM  

Blogger vina said...

Señor, sorry, this is totally unrelated, but if it's okay with you, i want to send you something from bacolod! it's a secret, but i think you have an idea what it is. it's your favorite! pero in two weeks' time pa. you can email me at :)

August 04, 2006 8:03 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! Thanks, Vina ... I know what it is! Actually, I was thinking about it this morning. This is too much. Nakakahiya naman pero sige, I'll take it ... hehehe!

You're so sweet, like butterscotch :)

August 04, 2006 8:19 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was always fond of UST, but was never interested in enrolling. hehehe It is indeed a beautiful campus. I always get to see it whenever I join a protest march that would lead to Mendiola bridge. hehehe

August 04, 2006 8:51 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Naku, Jhay, talagang aktibista kang bata ka. Magiingat ka din, ha.

August 04, 2006 9:50 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Hail, hail alma mater! Another nostalgic post, thanks.

August 05, 2006 1:01 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I ought to listen to my intjuition more, Ipanema, because on that day I was taking this picture I said to myself, "I bet when I post this on my blog some UST alumni now living abroad will chance upon and enjoy it."

BTW, another trivia: I didn't attend this school (I wish), but when I was much into playing jai-alai, my fellow amateurs would play with a priest who taught here. Don't remember exactly where it was but there was this huge back wall somewhere in the campus that was perfect for playing pelota. That priest was Spaniard and quite an adept jai-alai player, too. But of course, we uttered no curses in his presence as we commonly did in the fronton over at Taft Avenue.

August 05, 2006 1:18 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

lol Eric. I love it when the priests take their afternoon walk.

Most of my friends are seminarians - naughty ones at that. Can you imagine they scale the gates at night or early morning? My other seminarian friends from San Carlos Seminary are much tamer. :)

Jai alai, gosh that was a long time ago. Our fave hang-out was pizza hut(am not sure if it's pizza hut, what i remember is that, it was a pizza parlour - in front of Malate Church - that was the first at that time besides Non-such restaurant), with pitchers of coke and beer! We end up driving them back to the seminary.

August 05, 2006 5:31 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I had no idea seminarian life could be that much fun, Ipanema. The only friend I had closest to that caregory was a Trappist monk but opted to leave after a decade as one; however, he served as a psychologist at a Catholic community service center. But let me tell you, he was a party animal. No wonder he gave up monkhood.

Yes ... lol ... my days as a jai-alai player was many many moons ago :)

August 05, 2006 6:40 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

We meet during weekends but some opted to go out during school days, so the scaling. From that group, only two became The San Carlos group, a few of them. :)

August 05, 2006 7:13 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Come to think of it, the ones I'd seen scaling walls recently were the local high school boys in the area who, for some reason, weren't allowed by the guard to go in. What was strange about this was that they should be scaling the wall to get out, not in.

Only two made it? Let me guess who were the bad influence ... hmmm. Lol!

August 05, 2006 7:28 PM  

Blogger mlq3 said...

that arch was of course the entrance of the old campus in intramuros, destroyed during world war 2. after the war they disassembled the entrance and erected it as an archway -called "the arch of the centuries." the two plaques on the arch are to the foremost alumni of ust, rizal and quezon.

August 10, 2006 11:04 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It was drizzling on that day I drove into the campus driveway, Manolo. I was rushing so much I didn't even get to read those plaques, but I will when I go back.

I love that arch, especially when lit at night. I would look at it for as long as safely possible. It has an old world charm to it.

Many thanks for the information! Truly appreciate it.

August 10, 2006 11:56 PM  

Blogger RAV Jr said...

Yep, I liked UST too, but for the same reason posted above by one commenter about the high tuition fee..., fortunately, I passed the entrace test in one of the country's State Univ. and got a scholarship =D

BTW, if i recall it right, the UST claims as the oldest U, while USC (Univ of San Carlos) is the oldest college...

Dops =)

November 23, 2006 8:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

proud to be a thomasian, but where are the graduates of class 1971, BSC-Accounting

December 28, 2006 12:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello! if by any chance, you could drop by at UST, you will be able to se how the former parking lot in front of the Main building had been converted a Plaza Mayor. also, you will be able to see some major developments in the USThospital (cancer institute) and the Centennial Park. You are most welcome!

June 05, 2007 5:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

louise anne santos,

well, UST is one of the candidates of the college schools where i want to study.i'm now on high school and my mother asks what would be it cost if i would get the nursing course?

September 09, 2007 1:21 PM  

Blogger Marianne said...

This is a great post, about Santo Tomas. I gave a reading there last year, and that was actually only the SECOND time I'd ever been to the university, and I grew up in Manila (but attended Ateneo!).

My great-great grandfather (or was it my great-grandfather) studied there -- his field was Chemistry.

-- Marianne

November 01, 2007 10:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'am a senior in high school. can anyone tell me what to expect on the special ability test part for the applicants of the college of architecture?? i'm really nervous!!

December 07, 2007 7:49 PM  

Blogger Unknown said...

Now that I am residing in US, I can say that I am proud to be a graduate of University of Santo Tomas. It got history and all. It's not just a university. My brother, sister, and I studied in this university all the way from Elementary to college. Even my mother went to school here. We are ALL proud to be a Thomasian.

September 08, 2008 1:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i a student from san pedro college, davao city(sister school of UST)before. i would like just to ask how much is the semester in medical laboratory science? thanks!

July 22, 2009 3:45 PM  

Anonymous cagayan de oro schools said...

Yeah this is really great. i agree that this school is the oldest. but it would be more amazing it if it became university on its early age.

August 03, 2010 4:01 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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