Manila’s Pontifical and Royal campus (Part 8: inside the Main Building)

These days, the University of Santo Tomas’s Main Building stands tall and proud in front of the wide Plaza Mayor which sits in between the building and the Benavides Monument. A former street and parking place, it was converted into an open space that is being used from time to time during campus events. With the Main Building as the background, any event there undoubtedly gives one a true Thomasian vibe to it.

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But apart from serving as backdrop as the administrative seat of the University, the Main Building also serves as the academic home of the university’s Faculty of Civil Law, College of Science, and the Faculty of Pharmacy.

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Being the university’s landmark jewel, it won’t be a surprise to see some interesting sights inside the building. The first thing you will perhaps notice are the murals hanging by the walls depicting the history of UST made by Antonio Garcia Llamas

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(Thus it is a shame that UST does not have yet an art museum of its own as it actually a number of paintings made by various artists like Botong Francisco, Vicente Manansala, Galo Ocampo among others that deserve a home of their own rather than have some of them kept in some storage due to lack of space)

Perhaps the most important spot in this building can be found on its 2nd floor, through a staircase surrounded by artwork by Ocampo and Francisco, not to mention the painting “The Foundation of the University of Santo Tomas by Archbishop Benavides” by Domingo Celis, done during the university’s tricentennial.

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This would be the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences, considered to be the country’s oldest museum. Although it was formally established in 1871, Its history can be traced back to 1682, when the university started collecting and preserving various scientific and artistic artifacts.

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The museum is divided into 3 “halls” (as I call it) highlighting the different types of collections in UST’s possession. The “hall” that will greet you as you enter the museum is the one dedicated to its Natural History collection, with preserved specimen of various fauna and flora, some of which are already extinct.

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The second floor is dedicated to the museum’s collections on Oriental Arts; Ethnography; (showcasing various items of Philippine culture and ethnic groups) and the Coins, Medals, and Memorabilia. (memorabilia here showcasing items throughout UST’s history)

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The mezzanine floor (located on the left if you’re coming from the entrance) is the Hall of Philippine Religious Statues, exhibiting various religious images dating hundreds of years in age, at the height of the drive for the country’s Catholic evangelization by the Spanish friars during the Spanish colonial period. (1565-1898)

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With that, our little journey to the UST campus is now on its end. Thank you for joining me on this journey and stay tuned for the next one ahead.

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Thanks primarily to the UST Museum. Visit the link for information on its operating hours and admission fees should you visit the place one of these days.

© The Urban Roamer

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