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UST spots declared cultural treasures

January 29, 2010 1:19pm

Historical, cultural, and artistic value have earned four landmarks of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) a place on the list of National Cultural Treasures, according to the National Museum of the Philippines.

The UST Main Building, Central Seminary, Arch of the Centuries and UST Parade Grounds has been declared National Treasures, according to a report on Balitanghali.

Counting down to their 400th year in 2011, UST makes history once again as this is the first time a school has been included in the list of national treasures. As heritage sites, these must be preserved, thus the structures may not be changed or replaced.

“UST is a national treasure. This is why the event is not just for UST to celebrate but it is a cause for celebration for all the Filipino people," UST Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa said in a press briefing at the UST Main building.

The historic Arch of the Centuries, which was transferred from the first campus in Intramuros, has had a number of illustrious figures walk through it through the years including Dr. Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Frs. Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, the martyrs; Presidents Manuel Luis Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Jose P. Laurel, and Diosdado Macapagal; Senators Claro M. Recto, Jose Yulo, Juan Sumulong, and Rafael Palma; Supreme Court Justices Cayetano Arellano (first Filipino Supreme Court Justice), Manuel Araullo, and Ramon Avancena; Secretary of Justice Gregorio Araneta; drafter of the Constitution of the First Republic, Felipe Calderon; Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Florentino Torres; Director of the Public Library, Epifanio de los Santos; Mayor of Manila, Arsenio Lacson; and founders of the SGV accounting firm, Washington SyCip and Alfredo Velayo, as listed on the university’s website.

The Arch of the Centuries is flanked by the Fountain of Wisdom and the Fountain of Knowledge. Both fountains feature a lady in the center of a lotus flower, one raising a book and the other a globe. The arch, which has come to represent the gates of learning, leads to the main building.

Designed and built by Spanish Dominican engineer Fray Roque Ruano, the main building's highest attraction are the statues atop its roof which symbolize the spiritual and intellectual aspirations of the university. The statues were created by Italian expatriate sculptor Ricardo Francesco Monti and installed between 1949 and 1943, during which time Monti was teaching at the UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts.

A hallmark of engineering and construction, the UST Main Building was the first building erected in the vast compound, and the first earthquake-proof structure in the country.

Apart from the Tria Haec (Latin for “These Three") which symbolizes Faith, Hope, and Charity, the building features statues of Vincent de Beauvais, O.P., St. Augustine, and St. Raymond de Peñafort, O.P., philosophers Aristotle, St. Albert the Great, and Plato, great tragedists Calderon dela Barca, Sophocles, and William Shakespeare and playwrights, Lope de Vega, Aristophanes, and Moliere.

In the chapel of the UST Central Seminary, an image of the Christ the Pantocrator is in a diamond-shaped frame. Created by Joe Barcena, a former caretaker of the seminary who was put through school by the Dominicans in the College of Architecture and Fine Arts. Rector P. Frederick Fermin, O.P. had instructed Barcena to replicate the design from a smaller version. Close inspection will show that this bears a semblance to Byzantine art which is popularly known and commonly found in Orthodox churches in Europe. - FVI, GMANews.TV
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