The iconic Tiger statue and yellow UST block letters have stood guard in front of the University of Santo Tomas Main Building for years, serving as a snapshot-worthy spot for students, alumni, and guests alike. On August 9, 2022, a new, upgraded statue and letter set were unveiled at the Plaza Mayor and live-streamed through UST’s Facebook page (UST1611official).
The mascot of UST is the Bengal tiger, an apex predator species that naturally bears the University’s colors of gold, white, and black. The University’s varsity team names are also in line with the Tiger-theme, with the basketball teams named Growling Tigers and Growling Tigresses, respectively.
The design of the new statue and letters is a collaboration between the Facilities Management Office (FMO) headed by its Director Rev. Fr. Dexter A. Austria, O.P., S.Th.D., and Thomasian alumnus and former academic staff Mr. Anthony E. Zamora.
The new Tiger, an eight-foot figure of a Bengal tiger on its hind legs as if ready to leap with its fangs bared mid-roar, was unveiled through a dynamic performance by the UST Yellow Jackets, the Salinggawi Dance Troupe cheer dance team, signaled by Fr. Austria, who enjoined the community to “Look beyond our seeing and together, let us leap towards the future!”
As stated in the introduction of the unveiling program, “The tiger symbolizes ferocity, courage, strength, bravery, and triumph. Every Thomasian carries this winning mindset wherever they go. That excellence clearly manifests in both academic and athletic recognitions our students have achieved.”
UST recently became the first University in the Philippines to secure a 5-star rating from international education network and analytics provider Quacquarelli Symonds and in July secured its 4th collegiate division championship in Season 84 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
Fr. Austria, in his message, shared that the idea for the new Tiger and block letters came from the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D., who “thought of something to best symbolize our rising over the pandemic, in bringing back our hope to the present and in strengthening our unity as one Thomasian community.”
“This comes at the perfect moment when UST is about to leap beyond the confines of Manila to Sta. Rosa and General Santos campuses,” noted Fr. Austria. A similar set of letters and statues will soon decorate the rising UST campus in Calabarzon and Mindanao.
UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P., EHL, meanwhile, shared that “UST, in coordination with the FMO, eagerly prepares the open and common spaces on campus as equally important learning spaces as these showcase the Universities’ heritage, treasures, culture, and values. These intangible gifts are all that we enjoy with pride as Thomasians,”
“[The Tiger is] captured in might and strength, in the act of strategic engagement. Such a form reverberates the University’s forward-leaning strategies as it expands its campus [In Sta. Rosa and General Santos]. The statue also depicts the University’s zeal and passion in its continuous engagement with the mission of bringing the light through quality Catholic education. As one Thomasian family we all roar for our mission,” said Fr. Coronel about the Tiger figure.
Meanwhile, Fr. Coronel also explained the new letter set. “The block letters U, S, and T, follow the registered font that accompanies the configuration of the University seal. These letters represent the University’s tradition of excellence for having nurtured saints, martyrs, heroes, leaders in various fields, connecting the past 411 years of existence to the current and future generation of Thomasians.”
According to Fr. Austria, the letters are 2.1 meters in height and 2 meters in length.
The block letters are in the official font of UST as stated in the UST Visual Identity Manual, which was produced by the Office of Public Affairs, in coordination with the Office of the Secretary-General and in consultation with the College of Fine Arts Dean Asst. Prof. Mary Christie D. Que.
The newly-appointed coach of the Growling Tigers, alumnus Bal David, also made a brief appearance and asked for the support of Thomasians in the upcoming UAAP Season, where he pledged to give his best in lifting the team’s standing.