After eight long years, there I was standing in front of the majestic buildings and old trees, paying tribute to the statues of academic friars that see and welcome everything. Yes, I came back to revisit my beloved alma mater, the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas. I was like a kid on her first field trip excitedly taking everything in, noting the changes, looking for old familiar sites and even faces. Actually, it was no social visit, I was sent by my institution to be a part of their summer training. It was a good treat actually, I’ve been meaning to come back but really can’t find the time nor had the inclination to make time before.
There were a lot of changes. The Colayco Park that used to be our hang-out at the back of the central library with its collection of plants and trees as well as the mini pond with the bloated fishes is gone now. The pond and gazebo were replaced by a huge dancing fountain, and the plants and trees are surprisingly a refreshing wide space now. It kinda reminds me of Luneta Park where Rizal”s statue is minus the guards and Rizal. But I’ve got to admit that new set up added more to the old Spanish feel and distinct European appeal of UST. I was kinda imagining Italians or Europeans passing by the side of the main building while I was there. The UST Hospital look smarter now with its newly renovated façade. I miss the statues near the Dapitan entrance in front of the central library that witnessed my mini marathon every afternoon just to make it to class on time. I heard that they were given their walking papers to give way to the construction of the building standing on that very same spot now. And of course, who would’ve have miss the three level parking, with its row of restaurants—McDonalds, KFC, Dimsun Dumplings etc. inside the campus. Unbelievable! During our time, we would just eat out at Janet’s, a bowl of ice cream, at Almers their infamous spareribs with mashed potatoes or at SR Thai cuisine. I guess now, they would just have to take a pick from these usual fast food restaurants. It was like a mini-mall. I guess that’s the administration’s way of keeping up with the times.
It was a heady feeling going back there, visiting the college of Arts and Letters which is still as controversial as before with its collection of artistas, basketball stars and gorgeous gals and guys. I could still see us walking to the chapel using the botanical garden path just so we could tease the monkey on our way there, us hanging out at the grandstand watching the dusk settling in, my friends and I sweating it out in the middle of the soccer field for a game of volleyball during PE. Jenie, Sally, Anabel and I feeding ourselves and the bloated fishes of food from the coop(this one gone now too!) in the pond, and sometimes, critically looking at these fishes and wondering what the hell are they doing there. I remember our rented apartment in Dos Castillas Mansion with the cute medicines guys loitering the halls even in the middle of the night (If you’re feeling lonely, you just have to open your apartment door and there they are…sunshine in the middle of the night, sitting on the floor engrossed in a med book). I love staying there.:) I remember also Don Quixote Mansion where we transferred because the building was new and we wanted freshly painted walls and its diverse tenants. I swear every night there was a party going on…
It was nice going back, it was nice reminiscing. While I was there, I felt proud of the way the campus evolved. It speaks of the success that UST achieved these past years and is still achieving now. I am particularly proud of the Thomas Aquinas Research Center where we had our seminar, it was a dream come true for the academic community of UST and the Benavides Cancer Institute that aims to cross boundaries in cancer treatment and research.
I would forever be a proud Thomasian…Go TIGERS!!!!!