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The Inaugural: How the University of Santo Tomas- Legazpi Growled for the First Time

December is the last month of the year, and many see it fitting as the time to put end to many things. We did the same on December 7, 2017. But as the author Mitch Albom once wrote, “All endings are also beginnings.” In that too, we agree.

Most of us will remember the seventh of December, as the day the Aquinas University of Legazpi transformed to the University of Santo Tomas- Legazpi and uttered its first growl. After 70 long and rich years of excellence, we have finally become one with the Pontifical and royal university.

Part I

Everyone greeted the morning with exuberance, as the sun rose again after a few days of hiding its face as if kissing our own Mayon Volcano to commemorate the day. Our administrators and special guests began the occasion with a solemn yet joyful Eucharistic celebration at the St. Thomas Chapel at 8:30am. The celebration was presided by Most Rev. Fr. Joel Baylon, D.D. It was attended by special guests like Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., the Rector Magnificus, UST Manila, and Rev. Fr. Napoleon Sipalay, Jr., O.P., Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, who’s also the homilist for the celebration. Of course, not one father or sister dared miss the opening celebration.

Part II

The acoustics of UST-Legazpi Dome proved to be effective, as thousands of Legazpi-Thomasians expressed their earnest anticipation in candor and clamor. Students both glad and excited to witness this momentous occasion, along with the administrators and faculty dressed in dignified splendor, joined in one spirit as they attended the University Convocation.

Integral personalities gave their messages, including Fr. Dagohoy, Rev. Fr. Ernesto Arceo, as well as Rev. Fr. Edwin Lao.

Atty. Mary Ailyne Zamora, the Corporate Secretary, gave a brief timeline of our university, which made others tear up as they took one grand trip down memory lane, and proud that after all these years, they remain faithfully in service for Legazpi Thomasians.

One of the main highlights of the convocation is the ceremonial turn-over of the Securities and Exchange Commission’ (SEC) document of the change of name from Aquinas University of Legazpi to University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi, by Atty. Marylou Duka-Castillo to Fr. Arceo.

Also, the official symbols of our university were presented for the first time: the University Flag, the Rector and President’s Ring and Medallion, the University Diploma, and the University Mace.

Afterward, our own employees pinned themselves with pride, as if being hired themselves for the first time.

The convocation ended promptly before lunchtime, and when the students and employees exited the Dome, no longer were they Aquinians, but full-fledged Legazpi Thomasians.

Part III

Following the convocation, the administrators, employees, students, and guests were invited to a Gratitude Luncheon held at various locations in the university: at the Daragang Magayon Hall, Createria Canteen at the St. Martin Building, and the covered court. At the luncheon, special guests were invited to talk. One was Congressman Joey Salceda, who explained how academic excellence could be achieved through the partnership of public and private schools and universities. Governor Al Francis Bichara was also invited to speak, and he expressed his meaningful experience with contemporaries who happen to have graduated from the university.

Part IV

Soon after, media partners were invited to the Rector’s Board Room for a media conference. Delegates from local and even national media organizations attended the conference, such as GMA, ABS-CBN, Philippine Information Agency, Rappler, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Manila Times, Dyaryo Bicol, DZGB and OK FM, Radyo Veritas, the Aquinian Herald, and The Prism.

Each was given the opportunity to ask the university’s administrators questions regarding the extent of our university’s partnership with University of Santo Tomas- Manila, among many other things. Fr. Arceo explained that even though we have adopted the name the University of Santo Tomas, we will maintain our fiscal and administrative independence from the Pontifical and royal university. And even though we are independent of UST-Manila, but we will naturally benchmark on UST-Manila’s standards and tap on them for assistance in eventually performing according to what our name impresses.

Part V

Around 3:30pm, the St. Martin Grounds was already beginning to burst with yellow, as students and employees flocked in their first growl shirts. They were ready for the yearly UST-Legazpi Paskuhan, which is undoubtedly the favorite yearly event of every student in the university.

The segment was initiated with a Panunuluyan, and it wasn’t a solemn one this time: joy was evident on the participants’ countenances, and although they took the same long trip as always, this time it didn’t look like panunuluyan anymore, but a parade, and a victorious one at that. It was as if they marched against the walls of Jericho and the ending had already been spoiled – that after five years of planning and waiting, they’d see the promise fulfilled at last.

Once they have all come back to the St. Martin Grounds, the fun oozed non-stop until evening. There was the regular advent wreath lighting, followed immediately by the glowing of the Christmas lights – a spectacle that our administrators make sure that outdoes the previous years’. And who would want to miss this year’s Christmas jingle, featuring some of our university’s most talented singers, whom we have tapped from our students, faculty, and administrators.

As if all these were not enough, we saw our world-class dancers own the stage with a breathtaking performance. On top of it all, Arpie and the multivitamins graced us with their presence and their performance to seal the deal.

Indeed, everyone will remember the seventh of December, as the day the Aquinas University of Legazpi transformed to the University of Santo Tomas- Legazpi and uttered its first growl. However, as our rector implied, our university will still strive to maintain an identity similar to Bicolanos.

Somehow, Aquinas is alive, even now, as though it was only the cub-stage. Right now, we are full-grown tigers, growling with truth and love, all out of gratitude to the One whom we’ll be ultimately benchmarking at, both now and always.

Posted on: 12.11.2017

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