By JENNIFER ANN G. AMBANTA
THE NATIONAL Museum has declared the 82-year-old UST Main Building, the Central Seminary, the Arch of the Centuries, and UST’s open spaces as “National Cultural Treasures” ahead of the University’s Quadricentennial in 2011.
This is the first time for an educational institution to join the roster of National Cultural Treasures, with the majority of such structures being churches, and the rest being terrestrial landmarks, intangible cultural property, and movable objects.
The January 25 declaration followed the unveiling of the nearly century-old painting “The Foundation of the University of Santo Tomas by Archbishop Benavides,” restored through the Museum of Arts and Sciences’ Heritage Conservation Fund.
Section 3 of the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act states that a “National Cultural Treasure is a unique object found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic, and/or scientific value, which is significant and important to this country and nation.”
The countdown to UST’s 400th year officially began last December 18, with the unveiling of four “quadricentennial symbols” before a record crowd that bore witness to the University’s “most memorable” Christmas celebration.
An estimated 50,000 people who attended the annual Paskuhan saw the launching of the quadricentennial flag, countdown clock, song, and prayer at the “Countdown, Count Me In!” program themed “4 horas, 4 dias, 400 days, 400 taon,” which represented the three cultures— Spanish, American, and Filipino— that defined UST’s history.
After a parade of costumes from the Spanish colonial era to the 21st century, the four-hour program started with the recitation of the quadricentennial prayer by Fr. Pompeyo de Mesa, O.P. over a candle lighting ceremony at the UST field. This was followed by the lighting of the 80-foot Christmas tree and University grounds, and the revelation of the quadricentennial flag.
The “Q flag,” designed by Fine Arts Regent Fr. Edgardo Alaurin, O.P., and former Varsitarian assistant art director Jonathan Gamalinda, bears the sun and the Dominican cross from the UST logo along with an embroidered “2011” at the center, the statue of UST founder Miguel de Benavides, the Main Building, and doves. The upper horizontal half of the flag is colored yellow to symbolize St. Thomas Aquinas, while the other half is colored blue symbolizing the University’s Marian devotion.
The image of Benavides’ statue is found at the left side “to signify [UST’s] passion for education,” while doves soar from his finger tip as a symbol of the Thomasian free spirit.
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