On the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Manila and Santo Tomas Internment Camp, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) hosted the commemoration of the historical event in partnership with the Department of National Defense, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), and the United States Embassy in the Philippines. A program was held on February 3, 2020 at the UST Plaza Mayor.
Gracing the historical event was the Ambassador of the United States to the Philippines His Excellency Sung Y. Kim, the Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo David, Jr., PVAO Veterans Memorial and Historical Division Chief BGen. Restituto L. Aguilar, and UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Jesús M. Miranda, Jr., O.P.
UST played a critical role during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, being the largest internment camp in the Philippines. It would be remembered that around 4,000 internees, of which almost 3,000 were Americans, were liberated from the Santo Tomas Internment Camp by American Forces beginning February 3, 1945. Captain Manuel Colayco, a UST faculty member, was killed while guiding the liberators in their entrance to the University.
At the UST commemoration rites, after a silent drill by the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine Marines Drum and Bugle Team was the wreath-laying ceremony, and entrance of colors. Opening remarks were delivered by UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Miranda, Ambassador Kim and Defense Undersecretary David delivered messages while American internee Leslie Ann Murray of the Filipino-American Memorial Endowment (FAME), Inc., and the youngest son of Captain Manuel Colayco, Francisco Colayco, gave their reminiscences.
Sergeant Jose Quilatan, Jr., oldest veteran leader in the Philippines, and members of the Colayco family were also present.
Prior to the rites, the veterans were given a historical tour of the Main Building by respected historian and UST faculty member Assoc. Prof. Augusto de Viana, Ph.D.
In the afternoon of the same day, research studies on the end of the World War II in the Philippines were presented by four researchers from the UST Research Center for Culture, Arts, and Humanities headed by Assoc. Prof. Maria Alexandra Iñigo-Chua, Ph.D., namely: Assoc. Prof. Archie B. Resos, Ph.D.; Assoc. Prof. Augusto de Viana, Ph.D.; Ar. Assoc Prof. Leah P. de la Rosa, Ph.D.; and Ar. Asst Prof. Felicisimo A. Tejuco, Jr.
In previous milestone years, the University of Santo Tomas hosted the 50th, 60th, and 70th commemoration activities within its historic campus. Then US Ambassador John Negroponte and then President Fidel Ramos attended the 50th anniversary event, while then US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone Jr., graced the 60th anniversary of the liberation. For the 70th anniversary at UST, the Bay Area Civilian Ex-Prisoners of War (BACEPOW) were in attendance.