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.


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. Continue reading


Manila’s Pontifical and Royal campus (Part 7: the Main Building)

Among all the landmarks that one can see today in the campus of University of Santo Tomas, none perhaps would be as more well-known and beloved as the structure known as the Main Building, the first and the oldest structure that was built in UST’s current campus in Sampaloc.

Plans for its construction began in 1920, but its actual construction began 4 years later as its architect, a Dominican priest-engineer named Roque Ruaño was fine tuning its details so it would be able to withstand any powerful earthquake that may occur, as inspired by events, earthquakes in particular, in Japan during that period. Thus it became also known as the country’s first earthquake-proof structure when it opened its doors to the students in 1927.

the architect of the Main Building: Fr. Roque Ruaño

Then came the Second World War, as Japanese forces took over the country by 1942. The Japanese then rounded up the non-Filipinos, Americans and other nationalities allied with the US in particular and were brought to UST, thus becoming known as the Santo Tomas Interment Camp. Most of these prisoners were taken to the Main Building; the rest were spread out to other buildings existing in the campus during that time. Continue reading


Manila’s Pontifical and Royal campus (Part 6)


Being the country’s oldest university, it should not be a surprise that the University of Santo Tomas holds a significant number of titles in its library. In fact, UST’s book collection dates back to as far as before the founding of the university, when these books were first owned by Dominicans, (who among them was the university’s founder himself Miguel de Benavides) who donated their book collections for the establishment of what is now UST. As was mentioned previously, UST was first founded as a school for theology, philosophy, and law; most of these old books dealt with those particular subjects.



Over the years and centuries, UST library collection got accumulated as its older items became more valuable. I don’t know if there have been any books that have been lost or damaged throughout that time, but it’s good to know much of its old collection has remained intact and well-preserved, unaffected by war and its move from the old campus at the Walled City to the new one at the Main Building at the wider Sampaloc campus. Continue reading


Manila’s Pontifical and Royal Campus (Part 5, a center for faith and thought)


By the 1930’s as the University of Santo Tomas began to settle itself comfortably at its new home in Sampaloc, plans and works were under way for the expansion of what was then just a one-building complex in the middle of what was then a vast tract of land that was its campus. One of the buildings being planned was one that would serve as the University church and residence as well: of the Dominican priests who are assigned there and the seminarians learning to become Dominican priests themselves. Continue reading


Manila’s Pontifical and Royal Campus (Part 4)


the Urban Roamer’s UST campus map

Located right next to the St. Martin De Porres Bldg. in the University of Santo Tomas campus is another academic building named after a saint. Despite it being named after a Dominican friar and who is a patron saint of lawyers (especially those studying canon law) and UST offering degrees in civil and canon laws, the St. Raymond of Peñafort Bldg. is not the home of the university’s law programs. Completed in 1955, the building is home to the Faculty of Arts and Letters and the College of Commerce and Business Administration. Continue reading