UST set to open Quadricentennial Week

January 21, 5:45 p.m. - UST WILL open the Quadricentennial Week on Monday (January 24) in the run-up to a Thanksgiving Mass on January 28 to be led by a top Vatican official.

Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Rector of the University, bared the official list of activities for next week in a press conference on Friday (January 21), at the same time unveiling a number of commemorative items for UST's 400th year festivities.

The Rector also announced that the University has received a donation of P5 million from the PLDT group of businessman Manuel Pangilinan, to be used for a fund that will support the University's Simbahayan project which aims to rehabilitate 400 villages nationwide.

UST medical alumni in the United States have also raised $1 million to build the Alumni Center that will replace the old UST gym, while the new UST Sports Complex will be opened in August, the Rector said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) representatives and Fr. De la Rosa unveiled the commemorative 200-peso bill and gold and silver medals at around 12 noon Friday at the Main Building Lobby.

The central bank will be releasing 10 million copies of the bill amounting to P2 billion, and 400 commemorative medals. BSP officials said the 200-peso bill will be legal tender but the medals will have no value.

The bills feature the Quadricentennial logo (tongues of fire forming the letters U, S and T emanating from the Main Building) on the dorsal portion, while the medals bear the engraved image of Msgr. Miguel de Benavides, O.P., founder of UST and third archbishop of Manila.

The central bank will also release 400 special copies of two uncut 200-peso bills equal to P400, matching UST’s years of existence.

Fe de la Cruz, BSP director for corporate affairs, told the Varsitarian currency overprints are rare and only events of great importance are allowed to have an overprint on Philippine bills. “It has to be very special on a national level," she said.

"This [currency overprint] symbolizes BSP’s recognition of the significance of UST as an educational institution,” De la Cruz added.

The Philippine Postal Corp. also unveiled commemorative postage stamps featuring key landmarks of the campus which were declared national treasures last year, like the Main Building and the Arch of the Centuries.

Elenita San Diego, manager of the postage and philatelic department of Philpost, said post offices nationwide will soon begin using the stamps.

“We will also ask the members of the Universal Postal Union to use the stamps,” San Diego said.

PLDT corporate communications chief Ramon Isberto also handed P5 million to an endowment fund intended for the Simbahayan project.

Touted as the Quadricentennial centerpiece project, Simbahayan will rehabilitate 400 villages through medical, literacy, housing, and peace “interventions.”

“This is a very unique celebration. It is not usual that an institution is celebrating its 400th anniversary,” Isberto told the Varsitarian in an interview. “That is why Mr. Pangilinan decided to support this community service [project].”

Smart Communications, Inc., a PLDT subsidiary, launched on Friday Smart SIM cards and limited-edition prepaid cell cards with a photograph of the Main Building.

They will be available next month.

Smart also bared the Sweep or wireless communication technology that will aid the University’s electronics engineering program.

“Oftentimes, schools are having difficulties in coping with the latest technology. This will help the engineering program on the latest trend in electronics,” Isberto said.

“We will first introduce the program, and later on we will build a Sweep laboratory,” he added.

De la Rosa, meanwhile, thanked the UST Medical Alumni Association in America for raising $1 million for the UST Alumni Building, which will be opened in 2012.

De la Rosa also said the inauguration of the new UST Sports Complex will be on August 15. The gym will have a seating capacity of 5,000.

The Quadricentennial Week will start with the opening of the Quadricentennial Fair at Plaza Mayor at 8 a.m. on January 24, followed by the Opening Mass and the opening of the Jubilee Door at the Santisimo Rosario Church at 3:00 p.m.

There will be a parade within the University Belt on January 26 at 8 a.m. On the same day, UST will open the two-day 10th Biennial Conference of the International Council of the Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas (Icusta).

The Quattromondial Monument by National Artist Ramon Orlina will be unveiled on January 27 at the Quadricentennial Square. A grand program will follow at 7 p.m. to serve as a countdown to the culminating activities on January 28, the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.

On January 28, a Thanksgiving Mass will be offered by the Papal Legate, Archbishop Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, the Polish Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Seminaries and Institutes of Study), at 4:30 p.m. at the UST Grandstand. ONE@400: Q Grand Alumni Homecoming Dinner, will follow at 7 p.m.

Father Rector also said UST will repeat an activity during its 300th anniversary in 1911, when the University fed the poor in Intramuros.

“So we will do the same, the poor can come to UST, and we will eat with them,” he said.

UST was founded on April 28, 1611 in fulfillment of Archbishop Benavides' wish to open a seminary-college to prepare young men for the priesthood.

Benavides bequeathed P1,500 and his personal library to the project in 1605. On November 20, 1645, Pope Innocent X elevated the college to a university.

In 1680, it was placed under Spanish royal patronage. On September 17, 1902, Pope Leo XIII made the University of Santo Tomas a “Pontifical University.” Pope Pius XII bestowed upon it the title of “The Catholic University of the Philippines” in 1947. Cliff Harvey C. Venzon

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