Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Ruth L. Navarra

Stepping into the campus of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) is like stepping back in time. The most recognizab­le of all the buildings is the Main Building located at the heart of the campus. The cross on top is visible on all sides of the university. It has been designed by Fr. Roque Ruaño OP and was completed in 1927. It is the first earthquake-resistant building in the country.

It is beautiful inside as it is outside. One can do a Scarlett O’Hara or an Eliza Doolittle at the grand wooden staircase that leads to the Museum. It has two courtyards with grass kept lush and green. It allows air to flow keeping occupants feeling cool even in the hottest summer days.

The building has once been Kilometer Zero of Manila before the point was moved to the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park. Some of its original occupants include the Faculties of Philosophy and Letters, Liberal Arts and Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy. Those faculties have since moved to their own buildings within the campus.

The Renaissanc­e revival-style, four-floor building houses the UST museum, administra­tive offices, Faculty of Civil Law, and College of Sciences.

The building stays true to its original aesthetics even with updates to cater to modern needs like air condi- tioning and overhead projectors. Its exteriors serve as canvas for 3D mapping during “Paskuhan,” an annual Christmas festivity.

But the Main Building is not the oldest structure in the university.

That honor belongs to the Arch of Centuries. It stands proudly at the entrance of the España gate. The half facing the Main Building came from the ruins of the original arch that once stood in Intramuros since the 1600s.

The half facing España Boulevard is a replica of the original arch in Intramuros. The Walled City has once been home to the University before it moved in 1927 to Sampaloc because of its burgeoning student population.

On the pillars of the Arch are plaques honoring two of its most famous alumni Jose Rizal and President Manuel L. Quezon.

Students are welcomed in the university by passing through it during the Freshman Walk. The same students bid farewell to their alma mater four (or more) years later by exiting the Arch during the Baccalaure­ate Mass.

The Arch’s stories are not all about history. Students have fun creating urban legends around it. One of the most famous legends is that you will be transporte­d to the Spanish era if you cross it at midnight.

The structures are two of the four National Cultural Treasures declared by National Museum in 2010. The other two are the Open Spaces and the Central Seminary.

The home of the Growling Tigers is one of the newest buildings in the campus. The Quadricent­ennial Pavilion is glass and steel designed by alumni Jose Pedro Recio and Carmelo Casas. It has been in operation since 2012 and boasts of state-of-the-art facilities that athletes could use.

The university has one of the most picturesqu­e landscapes in the country. Wet or dry, its buildings and grounds stay timelessly beautiful. It is an apt venue where young minds can be nurtured to usher them to a bright future.


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