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#TWenty: The TomasinoWeb 2014 Year-Ender

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The route that the Thomasian community took during 2014 was a glorious one, albeit a path filled with tiny bumps which halted, but never faltered, the Thomasian spirit. For us Thomasians, there were people, events, trends, and even places which defined our 2014. There were influential people who made an impact, people who left, and people who we welcomed into our community. There were events which were devastating, but were made up for by the events which resonated with the relentless chanting of “Go USTe!” We saw trends come and go, and we explored new places in and out of the campus.

We recognize all these things here at TomasinoWeb. As such, we have put together a list of the 20 people, places, events, and trends which defined the Thomasian community’s 2014.

Without further ado, here is #TWenty.


20. Miriam Defensor-Santiago


One of the most frequently heard names in the realm of politics is Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. From Santiago’s accusations against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to her witty comebacks and biting commentaries in relation to various issues that have circulated in the country, the senator has managed to be one of the most influential figures this year.

Early in July, Santiago announced via press conference that she has Stage IV cancer in her left lung and had expressed her plans of taking a “magic tablet”, which would give her “all the effects of chemotherapy without the side effects.” Later in August, together with news reports about Santiago’s tumor shrinking, the senator mentioned her openness to running for presidency in the 2016 elections. In October, the senator announced that 90 percent of her cancer cells were dead, however, she was still weak.

Just this December, Santiago launched a new humor book entitled “Stupid is Forever”, which is a collection of her jokes and witticisms.

Words by Rozelle Javier
Photo from Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s official website


19. Fr. Louie Coronel and the Social Media Bureau


The Social Media Bureau is the newest University office, headed by Fr. Louie Coronel (pictured right). It manages the University’s official social media accounts which help promote University events and Thomasian ideals to the whole world.

In his talk during the Thomasian Martyr’s Week, Coronel encouraged Thomasians to become “modern martyrs through small acts.” Fr. Louie specially referred to Thomasians and said that greatness comes from who we are rather than how we look or where we are from. Through his talks, the Domnican priest continues to be a source of inspiration especially to the Thomasian community.

Words by Xuxa Rivero and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Joe Lugti


18. USTv: Unang Dekada


With its tenth year in giving honor to television programs that showed “evangelization, education and nation-building” influencing the Thomasian community, the Student Organizations Coordinating Council (SOCC) proudly tipped off this year’s USTv: Unang Dekada, Gabi ng Parangal.

Started in 2004, the USTv Students’ Choice Awards gave value not only to the content of the show but also the Thomasian values present in the show itself. This annual event focuses on influencing people to form an advocacy toward responsible media that sets it at a distance from other student-driven award-giving bodies.

Among the outstanding TV programs that received recognition in this year’s USTv Awards were: ABS-CBN’s Rated K’sSenakulo” episode for Students’ Choice for Catholic Feature, ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol for Students’ Choice of News Program, and GMA 7’s Bubble Gang for Students’ Choice of Comedy Program.

Some of the notable Thomasian alumni were also awarded, with Arnold Clavio and Sandra Aguinaldo as the Outstanding Thomasian Male and Female Media Personality.

Words by Rogelio Pascua
Photo by Monica Pantaleon


17. UST’s Board Exam rankings


The efficiency of a university’s efforts towards providing quality education can be proven based on the results of licensure examinations that students take after graduation. Also known as Board Exams, these tests are given to gauge the students’ knowledge on their profession.

The University of Santo Tomas has proven that it is still one of the top universities in the Philippines, having attained placements in the licensure examinations given this year. The University has successfully penetrated through the list of the Top Performing Schools in the Physician Board Exams as well as the exams for Science and Allied-Health Programs such as: Pharmacy, Medical Technology, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Nutrition, and even the first board exam conducted for Psychometricians. The University has also received favorable results in the exams conducted for the fields of Engineering, Architecture, and Education.

Words by Gianpaolo Alzaga
Photo by Vitt Salvador


16. #USTFreshmenOrientation


The Thomasian Welcome Walk and freshmen orientations happen annually, but this year, both events had some notable differences which separates it from the previous years.

Aside from the departmental freshmen orientations which are held by respective faculties and colleges, a University-wide orientation formally introduced the University to the newest breed of Tigers. “We decided that it should be unique, it should be all freshmen together,” said Assistant to the Rector for Student Affairs, Prof. Evelyn A. Songco, Ph. D.

Rains and floods have marred the Thomasian Welcome Walk for years, with the Walk or the concert being postponed due to inclement weather. However, this year saw the freshmen pass through the Arch of the Centuries under a bright, clear sky, with no signs of looming rain.

Words by Xave Gregorio


15. UST Faculty Union and the Collective Bargaining Agreement


The previous year proved to be very tumultuous for the Faculty Union (USTFU) that had fought for a wage raise, teaching load, medical benefits and protection of professors who have not earned their masteral or doctorate degrees until they reach an understanding with the administration.

After donning black clothing, legal battles and strike threats, the Union’s fourth successful collective bargaining agreement (CBA) had come to a conclusion early this year. USTFU had ratified last March a new CBA that endorses the salary raise of 3-19% after trying to avoid further clashes in the previous month.

With the ‘compromise’ between the Union and UST, every Union member is now to receive a share of the P10 million fund saved by the Union but the petition for the P26 million medical and hospitalization benefits was not approved by the Supreme Court.

Words by Anna Mogato
Photo by Genevieve Aguilan


14. New Thomasian National Artists


The National Artist award is one of the highest honors the country can grant to remarkable individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of the Philippine arts.

Six Filipino artists entered the prestigious roster this year after a five-year hiatus following the 2009 controversy which surrounded the nominations of four individuals into the list.

Among the six artists are Thomasians Jose Maria Zaragosa and Cirilo F. Bautista who were conferred the titles National Artist for Architecture, and National Artist for Literature, respectively. Zaragosa is best known for his ecclesiastical designs such as the Sto. Domingo Church and the St. John Bosco Parish Church. Bautista, on the other hand is a critically acclaimed poet and fictionist, bagging the Makata ng Taon award for his piece Sunlight on Broken Bones.

Words by Rozelle Javier and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Johmar Damiles


13. Student’s Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Week


This year has been a leap for the rights of Thomasian students as the University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (CSC) held its first ever Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Week last October to inform the students about their rights while studying in the Pontifical, Royal and Catholic University.

The STRAW Week was celebrated through a series seminars to inform the community about the Magna Carta of Students commonly known as the Student’s Code. More than that, the CSC also brought the idea creatively by launching the STRAW Song with the help of the Conservatory of Music. The song tackled tuition-fee increase, student-parenthood and other sensitive issues. The week concluded with a meaningful candle lighting ceremony at the Plaza Mayor.

The Students’ Code will be the primary basis of the rights of every Thomasian. The said code specifically discusses matters such as discrimination towards the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and the right of University publications to publish “freely”. More importantly, it empowers Thomasians to participate in the policy making and upholding freedom of information.

Formally filed in 2004, the decade-old student’s code was repeatedly revised until present due to changes in leadership. “Since this is the longest academic year for us, I think this is the chance na mapapasa na natin ito… we have ample time to do this,” CSC President Ina Vergara said as she hoped that ten would be the lucky number.

Words by Mac Norhen Bornales
Photo by Shelley Badayos


12. AB Hair Policy


Amidst the discussion on Students’ Rights and Welfare, a dispute involving the Faculty of Arts and Letters administration and its student body flared up regarding a proposed haircut and hair color policy. The regulation made liberal arts majors “frown,” as quoted in their released manifesto, implying that it was an indication of the suppression of their freedom of expression.

They were upset about the rule created by the administration stating that “every student must follow the grooming decorum of the University.” The opposing body defined liberalism through a statement and defended that everyone in the Artlet community has the right to “liberally” style their hair and groom themselves in whatever way they want.

They believe that external appearances do not make one “a lesser person” and do not affect the way he/she performs inside the University. They also argued that having a unique sense of style does not “violate any moral ground”, which is what all regulations are fashioned for.

Due to heavy criticism of the proposed measure, its implementation is suspended until a dialogue between the student body and the administration happens. Dialogues have been repeatedly scheduled, but they have also been repeatedly postponed.

Words by Bernadette Pamintuan and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Amirah Banda


11. Typhoons and flooding


The University’s campus is infamous for being easily flooded whenever a heavy downpour occurs. As such, students are often stereotyped as “waterproof” as Thomasians are well acquainted with heavy rains and rising waters.

When Tropical Storm Mario hit the country last September, it caused a series of unfortunate events involving the Thomasian community. Aside from class suspensions in all levels, the scheduled University of Santo Tomas Entrance Test (USTET) was cancelled, and the departure of Journalism seniors from their retreat in Caleruega was postponed. One of the casualties of TS Mario was UST Medicine student Siegfried Arcilla who was electrocuted by a live wire along España Blvd.

Typhoon Ruby also disrupted University activities, with the annual Paskuhan being rescheduled for the first time.

Words by Leah Camangon and Christelle Lois Ann Mapa
Photo by Charmin Cauilan


10. UST Files and Omegle


Social media played a big role in 2014, with it mainly being a vehicle for societal change. However, for Thomasians two things stood out this year when talking about social media: the Facebook page UST Files, and website Omegle.

UST Files is somewhat of an online diary wherein Thomasians can share their thoughts and experiences on the page for the public to read. Those who share their stories on the page are only identified through nicknames and the colleges where they belong. While these stories about love, heartbreaks, and random experiences could forge a connection between Thomasians, it could also be a source of conflict.

In an “open letter” to the students of the Faculty, Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said that he is “well aware of the existence of a certain social media forum where some students, under the cloak of anonymity, unabashedly vent their frustrations and disappointments with the Faculty of Civil Law, its professors or fellow students, regardless of its merit or lack of it.” Divina was pertaining to UST Files offshoot Civil Law Files, which operates the same way as the former – publishing stories in anonymity.

Yet another brainchild of UST Files is the use of chat site Omegle to connect with fellow Thomasians. By default, going on Omegle would mean chatting to a random stranger through text and/or video. By adding “UST” and “UST400” as interests, the strangers are filtered out to only include Thomasians, and sometimes, Thomasians-at-heart.

Words by Tristan Carpio and Xave Gregorio
Illustration by Humphrey Litan


9. UST in Sports


It has been a year of victories and defeats for the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers. Tallying 274 points, the Tigers fell short against De La Salle University Green Archers with 289 points in the general championship race in the UAAP Season 76. But the wind seemed to change its direction, going back to España Boulevard as the black and gold squad led the overall championship race with 152 points at the end of first semester, bagging title victories in women’s beach volleyball, men’s taekwondo, and in men’s and women’s judo.

[Ang] UAAP hindi lang naman more on basketball. It’s about all sports,” Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (IPEA) athletics coordinator Rodrigo Sambuang said. Indeed true, the teams that haven’t received much recognition from the Thomasian community made noise for themselves with the triumphs they had this season. At the start of the second semester, the UST Lady Tracksters snatched the tiara, ending the 11-year reign of the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, while their male counterparts brought home the bronze. The Tiger Fencers also capped off their season with a second place both in men’s and women’s division.

Unfortunately, the UST Men’s Basketball team lost two of their coaches within a year as the head tactician Pido Jarencio left the Tigers’ lair and chose to improve his game in PBA last January, while Estong Ballesteros resigned from the Asst. Coach post this month and decided to mentor Tanduay Light, a team in the PBA D-League. And with every goodbye, there will be someone who will surely say hello as Bong dela Cruz took over the position of the head coach of the Tigers.

But the sports-related issues surrounding the University seem to be unending. Earlier this school year, IPEA removed football from the Thomasian Goodwill Games, the annual tournament among different faculties and colleges. The decision caused uproar within the UST football community, prompting them to establish the UST Football Alliance (USTFA) to further solidify their stance on the issue. Despite the letters sent to their office, IPEA is firm with their decision, not even allowing a student dialogue to materialize.

Words by Rea Stevens
Photo by Lara Murallos


8. Removal of Filipino from the college curriculum


The almighty field of the academe is no exemption for disputes. 2014 was a year that saw major shifts in curriculum, imposed by both the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on their respective scopes. But perhaps it was the removal of Filipino subjects in the tertiary level that had many crying foul.

With the title ‘General Education Curriculum: Holistic Understandings, Intellectual and Civic Competencies (GEC)’, the CHED Memorandum Order No. 20 Series of 2013 (CMO 20-2013) would remove all general education courses of higher education programs—including Filipino—from the tertiary level to pave way to a new curriculum more focused on Science and Technology. These subjects would then be relegated into senior high school core courses.

While the views towards the issue are of stark contrast, the majority of the opposition instigated protests, most notably from an alliance popularly known as Tanggol Wika or Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino, which comprised of educators and college professors from various colleges and universities around the country.

Tanggol Wika argues that the memorandum would lead to employment woes, with professors either losing their jobs or being displaced in other disciplines. It would also compromise the further development, intellectualization and study of the Filipino language.

Words by Jaehwa Bernardo
Photo by Patrick Palencia


7. New food stores inside the campus


One of the biggest dilemmas we regularly face in college doesn’t happen inside the four corners of our classrooms. In fact, it happens after dismissal or during breaks, when the bell rings and our stomachs rumble with need: “Saan tayo kakain?” followed by the inevitable answer, “Kahit saan.

Fortunately, we usually don’t have to go too far or think too hard for the Multi-deck Carpark inside the University is jam-packed with dozens of restaurants. This year, new stores were added to the roster.

Headlining the list is the irresistible Krispy Kreme, which was met by a very warm welcome, as manifested by the seemingly unending queues during its opening week. Thomasians can now treat themselves to the mouthwatering doughnuts and coffee that the store serves.

On the opposite end of the row are two more recently-opened stores. The first is an Asian restaurant founded by an engineering and medicine alumnus. With the tagline, “Fantastic feasts served fast,” and a witty name Mr. Fast Foo, it offers a wide variety of Chinese cuisine like Lechon Macau, black bean fish fillet, dimsum, wanton noodles, and more. Beside it is Cyndi’s Grill, which offers Filipino dishes like adobo and bangus, homemade pasta, and breakfast meals in affordable rates, just like its predecessor Ate Eva’s Grill.

This year has also marked the opening of two new stores in the Quadricentennial Pavillion. Facing the Roque Ruaño building are Chicken Deli, a Bacolod-based franchise which offers a menu similar to Mang Inasal’s with rice-all-you-can barbeque meals, and the much awaited Family Mart, a Japanese convenience store known for retailing international brands and the infamous twirl-all-you-can ice creams.

Words by Diane Garduce
Photo by Ferlyn Landoy


6. Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council’s (ABSC) “lost funds”


Officers of the Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) are in hot water this year after the AB Board of Majors (BOM) released a statement saying that the council has lost funds amounting to approximately P50,000.

According to the statement, the missing funds should have funded the Athena Cup, the NGO Fair, and the general staff assembly.

In their own statement, the ABSC representatives pledged to “take full responsibility” on the stolen cash fund. Aside from these statements, both the ABSC and the BOM have remained mum on the issue as the Students’ Welfare and Development Board continue its investigation.

Words by Monica Hernandez and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Denise Sabio


5. Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building


The Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. (BGPOP) building, or commonly called as the alumni center, opened its doors to Thomasians during the first semester of 2014 particularly to the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management along with the Faculty of Arts and Letters. Standing 12 stories high, the building does not disappoint Thomasians, especially with new facilities, plus the vending machines!

The construction took a few years but it’s like waiting to receive something new wherein you can’t wait but get your hands all over it. The new building within the campus definitely made the students eager to set foot inside. The classrooms are quite impressive with their new chairs and glass blackboards, but the view of the campus is such a scene-stealer. It is definitely something big to kick off the school year.

Words by Mary de los Santos
Photo by Miguel Aquino


4. Preparations for the Papal Visit


Almost twenty years passed since Saint John Paul II graced the country with his presence during the World Youth Day in January 1995. Now, it’s only a few more days before Pope Francis visits the Philippines.

Different sectors, especially the religious sector, have been arranging the necessary preparations for the Pope’s arrival and his whole itinerary during his stay here – from January 15 to 19 next year, including a visit to the pontifical University.

These preparations aren’t limited to building the picturesque altars and papal seats. They are also encouraging everyone to be spiritually prepared for the Pope’s coming to the country.

The very long anticipation for the Pope’s visit is undeniable, and the experience on January next year would probably be extraordinary for those who’ll make the effort to see Pope Francis, and be blessed and enlightened by his word.

Words by Jackie Bouvier Arias
Photo by Patrick Palencia


3. Salinggawi Dance Troupe


This year was a big comeback for the Salinggawi Dance Troupe (SDT) as they ended the drought for a podium finish, settling on the third spot in the UAAP Season 77 Cheerdance Competition (CDC) last September.

2010 was the last time the SDT tasted the top spot as they placed third that year. 2013 saw them placing seventh, their lowest placing since the inception of the UAAP CDC. For four years, the España-based dance troupe struggled to climb back to the top, until they finally did this year.

Matagal na naming hinihintay na makabalik sa top 3, tapos ngayon parang sa lahat nang pinagdaanan namin, nakatulong ‘yung pagkalaglag namin last year para makuha namin siya ngayon nang mas maganda,” Former SDT Captain Danrev Dimaculangan said.

“We’ll go for the gold na po next year, sobra-sobrang paghahandaan po namin talaga siya. Siyempre ayaw naman namin na ma-disappoint ‘yung supporters namin kaya sobrang gagawin namin lahat ng best namin para makakuha ng gold sa UAAP,” SDT Captain MC Cruz assured.

Words by Mac Norhen Bornales


2. Paskuhan: Full Blast


Upon crossing the threshold of fantasy and reality, UST’s annual Paskuhan kept both realms interweaved each year.

Since its inauguration in 1991 until reaching the brew-point of being a University tradition, thousands of students flock to witness this much anticipated year ender as a celebratory custom. Going back to UST’s quadricentennial year, Paskuhan 2011’s ‘Pagsalubong para sa ika-5 siglo’ had the biggest crowd amounting to 100,000.

This year, the festivity reached onto greater heights, which included the Thomasian unity for the Pope’s visitation in January. After all, the Eucharistic Celebration is what highlights the whole Paskuhan event. The Agape was also done, wherein university employees and professors could claim free food as a sign of brotherhood. From ‘no-fireworks-display’ due to donations for Typhoon Yolanda victims in 2013, crestfallen Thomasians were back on cloud nine after watching a six-minute pyromusical display.

Paskuhan had a flock of 70,000 individuals, music, food, and camaraderie. Now isn’t that a blast?

Words by Samanthea Caballero


1. Academic Calendar shift


This year the university has made yet another milestone that will surely grant a significant change in the academic lifestyle of students and professors – the academic calendar shift.

UST Secretary General Rev. Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. officially approved the University’s collegiate calendar for A.Y. 2014-2015, marking the beginning of regular classes on July 14 instead of the usual first Monday on the month of June.

A number of major changes in schedule in examinations, celebrations as well as school breaks happened as a result of the transition of classes starting on July instead of June such as the Welcome Walk, usually held around August to September of the academic year, was now held on July 11, before the start of classes.

Preliminary examinations were now scheduled on the first to second week of September while the final examinations were on the first to second week of November. The accustomed semestral break during the second to third week of October until the first week of November was removed from the new calendar, merging with the Christmas vacation after the finals. Lastly, the traditional Paskuhan festivities normally held a day or two after final examinations was now scheduled three weeks after the final examinations.

The adjustment in the calendar was done in preparation for the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015 allowing new and greater opportunities for international student exchange programs within the ASEAN community.

Words by Janine Soliman
Photo by Bria Cardenas

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Nang mauwi sa katotohanan ang biruan: Ang mga tagalikha ng ‘UST Minecraft’

Kolektibo ang pangungulila ng lahat at may kanya-kanyang pinanghahawakan na mga rason at emosyon kaya gagawa talaga ng paraan ang ibang tao upang punan ang pagkukulang na ito. Dahil rito ang naging resulta ng samahan nina Javin, Ayi, JD, Emil, Dimick, Charles, at iba pang mga kasapi sa kanilang grupo.

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Ana Victoria Ereño/TomasinoWeb

Suspendido ang mga klase at ang mga mahahalagang kaganapan sa loob ng Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas nang dahil sa pandemya na dulot ng COVID-19. Dahil dito, maraming mga mag-aaral ng Unibersidad ang nawalay at nananabik na masilayan muli ang gandang dala ng kampus. Kaya nang mag-trending sa Twitter ang “UST Minecraft”, parang nagkaroon pa muli ng paraan na bumalik sa UST ang mga Tomasino.

CHARLES NOBLEZA. Litrato galing sa koponan ng UST Minecraft

Habang naglalaro ng sandbox video game katulad ng Minecraft, ang estudyante ng ikalawang-taon ng BS Information Technology na si Charles Nobleza, nagbiro ito na itayo sa larong Minecraft ang kampus ng UST. Ayon kay Charles, nang mabalitaan niya ang anunsyo ng UST na hindi na matutuloy ang nakasanayang tradisyon na Thomasian Welcome Walk para sa mga mag aaral ng unang antas, naisipan niya na itayo ang kampus dito upang ihandog sa mga freshies at ibigay bilang parting gift para sa mga nagsipagtapos sa paaralan.

Nang dahil sa sumikat na tweet ni Charles, maraming mga Tomasino ang nakakita at gustong tumulong sa pagbuo ng paaralan sa larong Minecraft. Dito nagsimulang mabuo ang isang komunidad ng mga estudyanteng manlalaro na naging pamilya na ang turingan sa isa’t-isa sa kabila ng pandemya. 

JAVIN DALANGIN. Litrato galing sa kaniyang Facebook account

Isa sa mga miyembro nito ay ang estudyante ng ikalawang-taon ng BS Architecture na si Javin Dalangin. Ayon kay Javin, sumali siya dahil sa layunin na maayos ang sukat at proporsyon ng kampus lalo na mga gusali nito. Para naman kay Ayi Articona na estudyante ng ikalawang-taon ng BS Interior Design at isang UST Tigershark, gusto niyang tumulong upang maitayo ang swimming pool at ang mga disenyong panloob ng bawat gusali. Ang estudyante naman ng Senior High School na si Jan Vincent Elleazar ay sumali upang tulungan ang mga kapwa ‘builders’ at mag-asikaso ng mga gawaing papel.

JAN VINCENT ELLEAZAR. Litrato galing sa koponan ng UST Minecraft

Para naman sa estudyante ng ikalawang-taon ng AB History na si Emil Bautista, sumali siya upang itayo ang gusali ng St. Raymund of Peñafort at ang panloob na disenyo na ito dahil walang taga-AB o taga-Commerce ang magsisimula nito. Sabi naman ng estudyante ng ika-unang-taon ng BS Civil Engineering na si John Dale Pelante, ang kaniyang tungkulin ay ang pagtatanim ng mga puno at pagtayo ng mga gusali sa loob ng kampus at ng mga condominium sa España at Dapitan. Si Charles naman ay ang nagtayo ng Arch of the Centuries, ang estatwa ni Miguel de Benavides, Plaza Mayor, at mga gawaing papel. Ang mga nagsipagtapos naman sa Junior High School ay ang mga tumulong upang itayo ang gusali ng UST Junior High School.

AYI ARTICONA. Litrato galing sa koponan ng UST Minecraft

May iba’t-ibang bitbit na motibasyon ang mga manlalaro upang ipagpatuloy ang kanilang nasimulang proyekto. Para kila Emil at Ayi, isa na rito ang kainipan at pangungulila sa Unibersidad nang dahil sa lockdown at kanselasyon ng mga klase. Tulad ng nasimulan niya sa kaniyang dating paaralan, nagdesisyon si Javin na itayo rin ang UST sa Minecraft. Sa paglalaro naman ng Minecraft nahanap ni JD ang buo at positibong komunidad na nagbigay sa kaniya ng motibasyon para magpatuloy pa. At para kay Charles, ang kanselasyon naman ng Welcome Walk at pagbibigay ng “parting gift” ang nagsilbing motibasyon niya.

Natanong din sa kanila kung anong mga bagay ang nagustuhan nila sa paggawa ng kampus ng Unibersidad at lahat sila ay sumang-ayon sa pangungulila nila sa kanilang mga alaala dito. Habang ginagawa ang ibang mga gusali sa UST, naaalala nila Ayi at JD ang mga kainan na nakapalibot at samut-saring puno na para bang nandoon talaga sila kahit nasa likod lang naman sila ng monitor. Nabanggit din ng iba na ang samahan nilang lahat, kasama ang iba pang mga tumulong, ang pinakanagustuhan nila dahil kahit hindi sila magkakakilala, buo at masinsinan ang kanilang pagkakaisa. Aniya ni Charles, maraming oportunidad ang nabuksan at isa na rito ang pagiging malikhain—walang quarantine ang makakapaghinto at makakabuwag ng samahan ng mga Tomasino.

Bagaman, kahit sama-sama nilang binubuo ang UST Minecraft, may mga suliranin din silang hinarap. Sa salaysay ng kanilang grupo, noong mga unang araw pa lang na nasimulan ang server, saka lang nasali si Javin at kanyang itinama ang sukat ng mga gusali at kalsada ng buong Unibersidad. Naging abala ito sa ibang mga kasama sa grupo dahil may nasimulan na sila ngunit naintindihan din nila ang punto ni Javin na kung nais talaga nilang maitulad sa realidad ang kanilang mga likha, dapat may sinusunod silang sistema para maging eksakto lahat. Nasabi rin ni JD na may pagkakataon pang nawala at ‘di maibalik ang nabuong gusali ng Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P (BGPOP) kaya’t kinailangan nilang ulitin ito. Bukod pa rito, naging mahirap ang paggawa sa ibang mga gusali tulad ng St. Raymund de Peñafort, UST Hospital, at St. Martin de Porres dahil sa kakulangan ng mga tauhan at ang mga itinalagang tao ay walang kaalam-alam kung ano ang itsura ng mga silid sa loob dahil kulang sa sanggunian upang magaya ang mga ito. Nasama rin sa kanilang mga gawain na ituon ang kanilang pansin sa paglalakad ng mga papeles at dokumento upang kilalanin sila ng adminstrasyon ng UST upang madaan ito sa legal at tamang proseso.

MINER. Litrato galing kay Charles Nobleza

Sa huli, nang matapos na nila ang karamihan sa mga istruktura ng Unibersidad, hindi nila inaasahang magtamo ng mga umaapaw na atensyon galing sa madla. Kahit may kasamang panlalait at panghuhusga galing sa ibang mga tao o pangkat na ikinakalat daw ng kanilang grupo na isinusulong nila ang pagpapatupad ng online classes. Mariing na itinanggi ng grupo na hindi iyon ang kanilang pakay at gusto lamang nila ibahagi sa mga Tomasino na pare-pareho lang naman tayong nangungulila sa paghanga ng paaralan.

Lubos silang nagpapasalamat sa suporta ng lahat at pinapahalagahan nila ito kaya’t patuloy nilang inaayos at mapabuti ang paglikha ng server. Nang mag-viral ang tweet niya, inaasahan na niyang may mga ‘di sasang-ayon sa kaniyang ideya pero nangingibabaw pa rin ang kagalakan ni Charles na masaksihan at malaro ng mga Tomasino ang UST Minecraft na kanya pang inilarawan bilang “new era of gaming community”.

Litrato galing sa opisyal na Twitter account ng UST Minecraft

Payo ng grupo sa mga balak sumali na bigyan ng pansin ang mga detalye ng mga istrukturang makikita nila at mas lalo pa itong makakapukaw ng reaksyon sa maraming manlalaro dahil maari nilang magamit at masuot ang iba’t-ibang uniporme na kanilang nailikha para sa bawat kolehiyo.

Kolektibo ang pangungulila ng lahat at may kanya-kanyang pinanghahawakan na mga rason at emosyon kaya gagawa talaga ng paraan ang ibang tao upang punan ang pagkukulang na ito. Dahil rito ang naging resulta ng samahan nina Javin, Ayi, JD, Emil, Dimick, Charles, at iba pang mga kasapi sa kanilang grupo. Kahit sinong mag-aaral ang tatanungin kung ano ang kanilang hinahanap-hanap ngayong quarantine, sari-sari ang kanilang mga sagot pero iisa lamang ang sagot ng Tomasino—babalik-balikan pa rin nila ang UST dahil sa mga alaalang nabuo nila rito.

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Pagbati sa gitna ng pandemiya

Noong nakaraang taon, kasiyahan ang bumalot sa paligid galing sa mga estudyanteng pumasok sa Arch of the Centuries. Samut-saring palamuti at bandera ang iwinagayway para ipakilala ang kanilang mga fakultad at kolehiyo. Ito ang isa sa mga inaabangan ng mga presman kaya naman may pakiramdam ng lungkot ang batch para sa taong ito dahil hindi ito naganap.

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Bagama’t ang mundo ay napatigil sa pagdating ng isang pandemya, tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang pagkasabik sa pagpasok ng mga bagong Tomasino sa Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas. Tradisyon na sa Unibersidad ang magkaroon ng Freshmen Week kung saan maraming kaganapan ang nagaganap tulad ng Roarientation, Welcome Walk, at mga sari-saring pasabog ng mga kapwa Tomasino para sa pagsalubong sa mga bagong tigre.

WELCOME WALK 2020. Ralph Rainell Estrella/TomasinoWeb

Noong nakaraang taon, kasiyahan ang bumalot sa paligid galing sa mga estudyanteng pumasok sa Arch of the Centuries. Samut-saring palamuti at bandera ang iwinagayway para ipakilala ang kanilang mga fakultad at kolehiyo. Ito ang isa sa mga inaabangan ng mga presman kaya naman may pakiramdam ng lungkot ang batch para sa taong ito dahil hindi ito naganap.

Isa sa mga estudyanteng ito ay si Ana Patricia Victoria ng College of Rehabilitation Sciences, para sa kanya, ang Roarientation at Welcome Walk ang nakakatuwang parte sa pagiging Tomasino. “I just love how exciting both of those are! Tsaka it’s when you get to meet tons of Thomasians, yun talaga ‘yung points na masasabi ko na, “Thomasian na talaga ako.’ Ika nga niya, “It seals the deal.” 

Nang maitanong naman siya kung ano ang pakiramdam na maging Tomasino, naibahagi niya na magkahalo ang kanyang nararamdaman, “I feel overwhelmed, happy and a little anxious,” aniya hindi pa rin siya makapaniwala na siya’y Tomasino na ngunit hindi pa masyadong ramdam dahil sa pandemya, “Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin siya nagsi-sink in, and ang hirap din maramdaman ngayon yung “Thomasian Spirit” kasi I’ve never really seen the whole UST in person.” 

QUATTROMONDIAL MONUMENT. Lpuse Lampa/TomasinoWeb

Para naman kay Maxine Mercado ng College of Science, inaasahan niya din ang pagpasok sa arch subalit naudlot ito dahil sa pagkansela ng klase, Before the pandemic happened, I was highly looking forward to the traditional Welcome Walk that freshies had every beginning of the academic year.” naalala niya ang mga kwento ng kanyang mga kaibigan na nag-aral sa unibersidad at ang mga naibahagi nila sa kanya ang nagpukaw ng kanyang interes kaya mas lalo niyang inabangan ito. Naibahagi din niya na UST ang kanyang dream school kaya naman para sa kanya ay mapalad siyang nakapasok dito,“ I even remember getting incredibly anxious when I was about to see my USTET results back then and completely freaking out when I found out that I got in.” dagdag niya, “It’s thrilling to think that I’m finally a part of the black and gold student population.

Si Chalssea Echegoyen naman ng College of Education ay matagal nang ninais na makasama sa Freshmen Welcome Walk, ika nga para sa kanya, “Entering the Arch of the Centuries symbolizes the start of my Thomasian journey.” Kaya naman kaabang-abang din ang pagtawid sa arko dahil ito ay ang isa sa mga tradisyon na hinding-hindi dapat makalimutan. 

Noong ika-13 ng Agosto nagsimula ang klase ngunit hindi pa posible ang pagsasagawa ng face to face classes kaya naman napagpasyahan ng UST ang mag-online classes na muna. Ngunit kahit ganito ang sitwasyon, ramdam na ni Art Dominic Padua Brual na galing sa Faculty of Arts and Letters ang pagmamahal ng mga Tomasino, “Everyone’s so supportive of each other, even when it’s just online.” Dagdag din niya na inaabangan niya ang darating na orientation, “Right now I’m actually excited for the orientation as apparently we’re gonna see the campus virtually via Minecraft.” 

UNIVERSITY EXPO 2019. Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

Para naman kay Franzyne Fernando ng Faculty of Arts and Letters, nang maitanong siya kung ano ang paborito niya tungkol sa Unibersidad, ang sagot niya ay ang bait ng mga Tomasino, “So far, my favorite thing about UST is the kindness of students! I can tell that the students who studied here went through a lot, and they developed a deep connection with one another.” aniya, kahit maikling panahon pa lang ang pagsasama nila, mayroon nang nabubuong unity at walang diskriminasyon sa mga bagong mukha sa klase, “They have so much compassion and kindness to the new students of their community.” Ganito rin ang sentimyento ni Ana Victoria nang maitanong din sa kanya ang kwesyon, “Currently, my favorite thing [about UST-online], is yung mga blockmates ko, who I have not met personally pero parang ‘yung feel niya is that kilala ko na sila for so many years.” at para naman kay Art Brual, ang kultura ng UST ang kaniyang paborito, “My god! I haven’t met so many people [that] I can vibe with immediately!” 

Sa loob ng ilang buwan ay nagbago na ang kapaligiran at naging mahirap makisabay sa mabilisang pagbabago. Nang maitanong sa mga freshies kung paano ang pagaasikaso nila sa kanilang pag-aaral ngayon at kolehiyo na sila, ang sagot ni Chalssea Echegoyen ay time-management, I manage my time wisely and organize my tasks. I set a goal in each day to accomplish and reward myself after that by watching my favorite dramas to relieve my stress.

Mas sineseryoso naman ni Maxine Mercado ngayon ang kanyang pag-aaral at mas pinagtutuunan ng pansin ang pakikinig sa klase at pagkatuto, “I am handling my academics way more seriously than how I did back in senior high school because college is going to be tougher than high school,” dagdag niya, “And with the pandemic added to the situation, it’s important to keep in mind that I always have to make a real effort in learning as much as I can.” sinisigurado din niya na sapat ang kanyang kagamitan upang makapokus sa mga online classes

Para naman kay Franzyne Fernando, “Honestly, it’s really difficult–but it is the same for everyone else.” dagdag din niya na nahihirapan siya pagdating sa kanyang internet connection, “The difficulty for me is handling the fear that my internet might be gone all of a sudden.” 

Still in the verge of trying to figure things out.” naman ang sagot ni Ana Victoria lalo na’t dumbole ang hamon ng pag-aaral para sa kanya ngayon at lahat ay nasa online na. Aniya, kailangan doble din ang pagsisikap dahil sobrang bago ng kanilang kaligiran at nakakasalamuha, “You really have to make an effort to communicate with people you haven’t met in order to survive.” Wala naman masyadong problema para kay Art Brual dahil simula Enero pa siyang natututo online

ALAB 2019. Veronica Besario/TomasinoWeb

Nasa unang taon pa lamang sila ng kanilang lakbay sa kolehiyo kaya naman marami-rami din silang inaasahan sa mga susunod na araw at buwan, katulad ng mas lalong makilala ang sarili, makatagpo ng iba’t-ibang hamon, at makipagkaibigan ang para kay Ana, “I am looking forward to all the challenges that could help me know more about myself.” 

Mas maraming karanasan at koneksyon sa mga iba’t-ibang tao naman para kay Maxine, gusto niya ding mas matuto pa lalo sa kanyang mga propesor at tahakin ang kolehiyo na independent, dagdag niya din na kung sakaling bumalik na ang mundo sa normal, mas marami siyang oras na maiigulin sa unibersidad na tiyak na magpapaalis sa kanya sa kanyang comfort zone

Inaasahan naman ni Chalssea na makagawa ng maraming ala-ala—masaya man o hindi kasama ang mga taong makikilala niya sa unibersidad, aniya, sabik na din siyang pagbutihin ang kanyang akademiko, gusto niya na ding makatapak sa kampus pagkatapos ng pandemya, “I am also excited to improve and grow by success and failures in my academics.” 

Vince Imperio/TomasinoWeb

Kay Art Brual naman, ang transisyon galing sa pagiging tinedyer papunta sa pagiging matanda ang kanyang inaasahan, dahil para sa kanya, mas nagiging mature ang mga tao kapag humantong na ng kolehiyo, aniya, “College presents you the troubles of adult life: uncertain schedules and surprise expenses.” 

Kakaibang mga bagay ang maaring maranasan sa kolehiyo at ang mga karanasang ito ang maghuhulma sa ating pagkatao. Kaya naman para kay Franzyne Fernando, growth ang inaasahan niya sa kanyang lakbay, “I look forward to a lot of growth now that I’m in college. With the different experiences that happened in my life, I hope that it gives me a positive growth in life.”

Kahit na nasa gitna tayo ng ganitong sitwasyon, buhay pa rin ang pag-asa na babalik din ang lahat sa normal at bilang mga bagong salta sa kolehiyo, sila Ana, Maxine, Chalssea, Art, at Franzyne, kasama ng mga libo-libong bagong tigre ngayon, ay marami pang oras para maranasan ang pagiging Tomasino, na nakaupo sa silid-aralan, sa kani-kanilang fakultad at kolehiyo—sa loob mismo ng apat na sulok ng UST.

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Pag-ahon sa paglubog: Kuwento ng tagumpay ng mga Tomasinong arkitekto

Nagkamit ng pang-ikatlong puwesto sa Design for Living na pinamunuan ng Institute for Advanced Architecture for Catalonia (IAAC) sa Barcelona, España ang magkakaibigan na sina Aramis Corullo, Paula Casia, Althea Poblete, Angelo Landicho, at Gellaine Burgos.

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Litrato galing sa opisyal na pahina sa Facebook ng Unibersidad

Ngayon na ang lahat ng oras ay nasa kanilang mga kamay matapos idepensa ang kanilang tesis, ang mga nagtapos mula sa Kolehiyo ng Arkitektura ay lumahok sa isang internasyonal na kumpetisyon upang hasain pa ang kanilang mga kasanayan at ibangon ang nakalubog na kaharian ng Binoangan.

Nagkamit ng pang-ikatlong puwesto sa Design for Living na pinamunuan ng Institute for Advanced Architecture for Catalonia (IAAC) sa Barcelona, España ang magkakaibigan na sina Aramis Corullo, Paula Casia, Althea Poblete, Angelo Landicho, at Gellaine Burgos. Walang bakas ng ekspektasyon, ang kanilang pagkapanalo sa internasyonal na kumpetisyon ay nag-iwan sa kanila ng mahahalagang karunungan na kanilang ibinahagi sa isang panayam online sa TomasinoWeb

Ang simula

Nang makita ni Corullo ang post tungkol sa nasabing kumpetisyon noong Mayo, nakatuon pa ang kanilang atensyon sa tesis. Kaya nang matapos na nila ito, inanyayahan niya ang kaniyang mga kaibigan at agad sumali ang mga ito upang maging mas produktibo sila sa kanilang mga tahanan sa kabila ng pandemya. Ani ni Poblete, wala siyang pag-aalinlangan na sunggabin ang inilahad sa kanila na pagkakataon. Mas nasasabik naman makatrabaho ni Burgos ang kaniyang mga kaibigan sa isang proyekto kaysa sa mismong kumpetisyon. Bagamat hindi alam ni Landicho kung ano ang kaniyang aasahan sa pagsali sa isang internasyonal na kumpetisyon, mausisa siya sa kung anong mangyayari. Para naman kay Casia na sanay sa pagsali sa mga kumpetisyon, mas masasanay pa siya sa paggamit ng mga software para sa arkitektura na hindi naaaral sa paaralan. 

Sa pakikilahok

Unang pakikilahok ‘man nila ito sa isang internasyonal na kumpetisyon o hindi, kinakabahan, nasasabik, at walang inaasahan ang grupo sa mga maaaring mangyari. Kung dati ay mas inuuna nila ang mga gawain sa paaralan at plates, ngayon ay marami na silang oras at walang ibang iniisip. Kung kaya’t hindi na sila nag-alala pa dahil sila ay magkakaibigan, may tiwala sa isa’t-isa, at parang ginagawa lang ang kanilang libangan. “We just want to do a good output kasi it’s an international competition. Kahit na we do well in school, a big fish in a small pond doesn’t make a big fish in a big pond,” ibinahagi ni Casia. 

Litrato galing sa opisyal na pahina sa Facebook ng Unibersidad

Nang sinimulan na nila ang kanilang proyekto, hindi ito isang biglaan na may ideya na agad kundi ilang ulit na rebisyon bago nakapag-desisyon. Inilahad ni Poblete na inisip muna nila ang problema na gusto nilang bigyan ng solusyon at ito ay ang basura. Binigyan nila ito pokus at kung paano ito magiging kapaki-pakinabang. Dagdag ni Corullo, “Kailangan medyo unique ang idea. What if mag-isip ng problema sa Pilipinas at i-convert ang problema na ‘yon bilang solusyon? Waste problem sa Pilipinas, problem sa basura, basura ang gawing solusyon.” Sunod ay ang paghahanap nila ng site o lokasyon na kung saan magiging akma ang disenyo at mapapahalagahan ng komunidad. Inabot ang grupo ng dalawang linggo bago maisip ang tamang proyekto at lokasyon. 

Dagdag pa ng grupo, kaya ang pinaniniwalaang dating kolonyal na kaharian ng Binoangan sa Obando, Bulacan ang kanilang napiling lokasyon ay dahil sa mayaman nitong kasaysayan. Dahil ang mga basura ay napupunta lamang sa mga coastal area, ang lugar ng Binoangan ay lubhang apektado. Ani ni Casia, ito ay unti-unting lumulubog sa tubig at kasabay nito ay ang pagkawala sa isipan ng mga tao ang importansya nito. Upang maibalik at mailigtas ang lugar ng Binoangan, binigyan nila ng mga solusyong arkitektural gamit ang kanilang disenyo.

Hindi inaasahang pagkapanalo

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Ani ni Corullo, nakatanggap siya ng e-mail na nagsasabing kwalipikado sila bilang mga finalist sa kumpetisyon kasama ang kaniyang mga kaibigan. Para sa kanila, wala na silang iba pang hinahangad dahil umabot na sila sa finals. Ngunit nang malaman nila na nasungkit pala nila ang ikatlong puwesto, sobrang pagkasaya ang kanilang naramdaman dahil ito rin ay nagbukas sa kanila ng maraming oportunidad.

Ngunit sa kabila ng kanilang matamis at hindi inaasahang pagkapanalo, hindi mawawala ang kwento ng hamon at suliranin lalo na ngayong panahon na may kinakaharap tayo na pandemya. Para kay Burgos, ang pagtatrabaho online at ang pagsasagawa ng mga online meeting ang kaniyang naging suliranin. Personal na balakit naman ang kay Landicho at Corullo dahil may mga ibang bagay pa silang ginagawa bukod sa kanilang proyekto. Ngayon na sila ay nasa kanilang mga bahay, mas madali raw sana kung sila ay magkakasama o face-to-face upang madaling mahati at matapos ang mga gawain.

Litrato galing sa opisyal na pahina sa Facebook ng Unibersidad

May kaniya-kaniyang motibasyon ang grupo upang magpatuloy sa kanilang ginawa. Ani ni Poblete, ang pagrepresenta rin nila sa bansa ang naging motibasyon nila sa pagsali sa kompetisyon. Sila ang magkakaibigan na gusto lamang may gawin habang naka-quarantine upang masulit ang panahong ito, mapabuti ang kanilang portfolio, magsama sama, at maranasan muli ang kanilang mga nakagawian dati. Sa pamamagitan ng pagsali, paraan ito upang makalimutan nila ang mga nangyayari sa paligid nila kahit sandali. 

Bahagi ng magkakaibigan bilang payo sa mga gustong sumali rin sa mga paligsahan, “go for it!” Ang paglabas mo sa iyong bubble at pagsali sa kompetisyon ay isang paraan upang mas matuto pa. Para sa kanila, ang mga karanasan, ang mga aralin, at paghasa ng iyong mga kasanayan ay ang mas mahalaga kaysa sa pag-iisip ng pagkatalo; hindi kasiguraduhan, at hindi paniniwala sa sarili. Dagdag pa nila, ito ay hindi mo matututunan sa paaralan at iibahin ang iyong pananaw sa ibang mga bagay. 

Sa panahon ng pandemya, ang oras ay nasa ating mga kamay. Marami tayong mga aktibidad na maaring gawin at para sa magkakaibigan na sila Corullo, Casia, Landicho, Burgos, at Poblete, ito ay ang sumali sa isang internasyonal na kumpetisyon. Bilang mga nagtapos sa kurso na arkitektura, hamon sa kanila ang paghasa sa kanilang mga kasanayan at gumawa ng disenyo na may layunin. Tulad nga ng kanilang proyekto sa pagbalik ng lugar ng Binoangan, mula sa pagkakalubog ay darating din ang panahon ng ating pag-ahon at pagbangon.

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