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