The University of Santo Tomas formally welcomed almost 15,000 Thomasians for the Academic Year 2019-2020 through the Thomasian Welcome Walk held on August 6, 2019 at the Arch of the Centuries.
The rite of passage, a much-anticipated Thomasian tradition, formally marks the beginning of a freshman’s academic life. The tradition involves walking through the Arch of the Centuries, the original entryway of the University when it was still located in Intramuros. When UST transferred to its present site in Sampaloc, it was brought piece by piece and reassembled in its current campus. The original walkway faces the Main Building while a replica faces España Blvd.
The iconic structure is now known as the “Arch of the Centuries” and was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2010. It is a favorite spot to meet important University guests that include Pope Francis, who walked through the Arch upon his arrival at the University where he was met by the UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P.
UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Jesús M. Miranda, Jr., O.P., led the morning and afternoon batches of the parade of freshmen as they passed through the Arch of the Centuries. Two Eucharistic Celebrations, concelebrated with the Dominican Fathers and with the Welcome Rite integrated, were held at the Quadricentennial Pavilion Arena. UST Vice Rector Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., was the main celebrant for the morning Mass, while UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., presided in the afternoon Mass.
Fr. Ang, in his homily, said that “UST has more than 400 years of excellence, but it is forever young because of new faces, fresh insights, and innovative ideas. I am happy that your entrance into the campus will result in a whole new synergy, making us truly a 21st century, forward-looking educational institution.”
During the Eucharistic celebration that was held in the afternoon, Fr. Dagohoy mentioned in his homily that the cyclical journey of Thomasians – of entering the Arch as freshmen and exiting the Arch after the Baccalaureate Mass, and of joining the welcome rites at the Quadricentennial Pavilion Arena and graduating at the same venue four or five years later – began that momentous day.
Fr. Dagohoy further advised the new Thomasians, “When your journey becomes tight and you want to stop, don’t. Pray to God that he may send you someone who will assure you of the beauty of your distant future. Pray that God may speak to you: in your dreams, in your vision, and even in your deep sleep. Is it possible? Yes. Because you too, are God’s beloved children with whom God is so pleased.”
The Father Rector concluded his homily with the words “Welcome to the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, where champions in life are born.”
Mass offerings, presented by student representatives from each of the Faculties, Colleges, Institutes, and Schools, were for the benefit of the continuing Tulong Tomasino Program of the UST SIMBAHAYAN Community Development Office.
After the Thomasian Welcome Walk, another highly-anticipated event was the ROARientation, the general orientation for freshmen in the tertiary level. It was also conducted in two batches, one in the morning and another in the afternoon of August 13 held at the Quadricentennial Pavilion arena.
The ROARientation was not only informative in nature but was an entertainment treat for the new students as well. It showcased the talents of the University such as the UST Yellow Jackets, UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, Mediartix, Teatro Tomasino, UST Singers and the Conservatory of Music Wind Orchestra, Tiger TV, to name a few, where they performed before an appreciative crowd.
In his welcome message to the freshmen, UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Jesús M. Miranda, Jr., O.P., introduced the Thomasian core values also known as the 3Cs – competence, compassion and commitment. He also told them of the Thomasian attributes with the acronym of SEAL that stands for Servant leader, Effective communicator and collaborator, Analytical and creative thinker, and Lifelong learner.
Information on the history of the University, the lives of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Dominic de Guzman were presented through a short play, videos, and an animated feature. Facilities, such as the student activity center housed at the Tan Yan Kee Student Center, were introduced to the students through a video presentation. The Guidance Counselors spoke on Mental Health, and the ‘TIGER Way,’ an acronym of tips for coping with college life. The officers of the Central Student Council and the Student Organization Coordinating Council gave the new Thomasians assurance that there are people that they can depend on, such as their student council officers and other student leaders.
Ensuring the safety and security of the students is of vital importance to the University. A video featuring the UST Security officers showed tips on how to avoid becoming victims to unlawful elements was shown. PSSg. Johnrie Jayme, a police officer from the Sampaloc command post, also spoke on how students can prevent crimes from taking place – by not giving the suspect the opportunity to make a victim out of themselves. The officer also assured his audience that the police force is doing its best to protect the students from unlawful elements.
Program hosts were student leaders.
The freshmen of the Education High School, Junior High School, and Senior High School held an oreintation called Alab on August 7. The Eucharistic Celebration for the new high school students was presided by UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, O.P.