THOSE who have been proudly claiming themselves as Thomasians finally walked their talk.
The tarrying of the freshmen is over. After almost four months of waiting due to repeated delays, the annual Freshmen Walk was successfully last September 24, 2012.
This traditional rite of passage in the University is the Thomasian community’s way of embracing first year students as the youngest member of their family, which aims to impart a sense of pride and belongingness to the freshmen as they start their journey.
There were two highlights in the Welcome Walk. First was the symbolic passing through the Arch of the Centuries, where the New Centennial Dawn freshmen would enter. Second was the Eucharistic celebration, where the Rector preached a message of encouragement and a call to excellence to the freshmen as they live their student life in UST.
This year’s welcome walk was divided in two batches. The first batch was held in the morning, 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM for freshmen from Tourism and Hospitality Management, Music, Science, Arts and Letters, Commerce, and Engineering. Meanwhile, the second batch was held in the afternoon, 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM, comprising of freshmen from the faculties and colleges of Accountancy, Education, Fine Arts and Design, Nursing, Pharmacy, Architecture, Rehabilitation Science, Physical Education and Athletics, and Ecclesiastical Faculty. First years of the Graduate School, Medicine and Surgery, and Civil Law were also included.
The freshmen of UST High School headed the parade session of the first batch. At the time the excited high school freshies stepped into the Arch, they were welcomed enthusiastically by CSC secretary Kendra Duran, who asked them to yell “Aba, Tomasino na ako!” Meanwhile, there was an increase in excitement when the University’s official pep squad and drum line, the Yellow Jackets, started hitting their drums and yelling their cheers as freshmen passed through the Arch.
After the long wait, finally
The cloudy weather that morning pleased those who hated to stay in the blaze of the sun during the parade. College of Tourism and Hospitality Management students patiently waited for their turn. When the name of their college was called, the CTHM freshmen shouted in excitement. They continued to march with their heads up, proudly showing their steward headdress to other colleges while swaying their white flag. They even made noise with their toy trumpet to signify that they are coming through the Arch.
The freshmen of the Conservatory of Music came next, and speaking of trumpets, they brought with them real trumpets. Their freshmen came like a band procession, carrying different instruments and playing them as they pass through the Arch. Musical instruments are definitely their trademark. They had brought with them pink balloons that represent the color of their college.
More than appreciating their identity as Thomasians, what delighted Music student Lorence Centenera the most was that he was able to discover other colleges through the ceremony.
“The Freshmen Walk is amazing! You are able to see other colleges,” Lorence said delightfully.
To everyone’s surprise, three dancing Chinese dragons came after the last student of Conservatory of Music passed the arch. The dragons were dazzling with their glittered scales. Two of them were brightly colored with yellow. The other, the longest one, was glamorously red. The dragons swirled around in the middle of the Arch and turned directly toward the plaza mayor.
Freshmen from College of Science were still in awe about the dragons as they pass through the Arch. The jubilant host of the Freshmen Walk noticed that some students were carrying a banner portraying figures of their major course. She then began calling the name of each course one by one, making students shout enthusiastically and wave the blue balloons they are holding.
The Faculty of Arts and Letters stepped in to the Arch mischievously and vigorously. Wearing an Indian-like blue headband with white and blue feathers, the freshmen students of AB took group photos inside the Arch without even minding an officer who was shouting “double time” so that the Eucharistic Celebration can start early.
“It’s like finally having to say ‘I am officially a Thomasian,’” Zyrile Gomez proudly remarked after passing through the Arch with her friends.
The College of Commerce came wearing gold-colored headdresses similar to the crown of the Roman god Mercury. Looking elegant with their coat and polo that made them seemingly professional, Commerce students walked through the Arch proudly, acknowledging their identity as Thomasians.
When asked about how she felt as she entered the Arch, Mariane Riano, a Commerce student said, “I’m excited, I really felt that I am a Thomasian. I am more motivated to excel in my studies so that I will remain here.”
Quite inventive with different doodles on their faces, the Faculty of Engineering freshmen, this year’s largest number of freshmen among all faculties and colleges, marched through the arch.
Freshmen students went directly to the Quadricentennial Pavilion upon passing through the Arch for the Eucharistic celebration.
To instill how proud the freshmen should be as a Thomasian, a short presentation about the grandeur, uniqueness, and accomplishments of UST was shown before the Mass.
Rector Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., Ph.D., was the main celebrant of the Holy Eucharist. His message aimed to encourage students “to act as a light pursuing excellency in the midst of darkness.”
“Every time the light shows up, it pushes darkness away. Your purpose is for you to light as light does,” the Rector stated to encourage the students to be morally upright.
The Mass ended with the Freshmen Pledge. The freshmen took an oath in line with their responsibilities to God, to the University of Santo Thomas, and the entire Thomasian community.
After the two batches of passing through the Arch and taking part of the Eucharistic celebrations, the new members, as well as the old members of the Thomasian community were treated with a free concert at the Plaza Mayor.
Finally, after all those cancellations and reschedules, the freshmen are now officially Thomasians.
By Matthew Bernie D. Zate
Photo taken by Sheena Leonardo