Saturday, April 3, 2010

Let's declare 2010 as Year of the Thomasian



When the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) launched its historical scriptwriting contest recently in line with the year 2011 being a marker for several important events in Philippine history, it mentioned our national hero’s 150th birthday, the country’s 65th year of independence from America and the People Power Revolution’s 25th anniversary. Quite surprisingly it failed to mention the Quadricentennial of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) which, I personally believe, is the most important of those anniversaries.

I do not understand why such event of great historical significance could be overlooked by the FDCP. On second thought, however, perhaps it’s not their fault. Perhaps we – the Thomasian community – is not doing enough to let the entire Filipino nationhood know that our beloved alma mater is celebrating its 400th year, something that Filipinos of today – Thomasians or not – should be happy about and grateful for if only for the fact that it is happening during our lifetime. It’s like being alive during and being able to witness the apparition of the infamous Halley’s Comet which appears only every 75-76 years, the last of which was in February 1986 (the next one will be in July 2061).

If we are really proud of being UST alumni as we say we are, then we should do our share in promoting the 2011 event in whatever little way we can. I’m sure UST’s Quadricentennial Committee is doing its best to ensure the grandest Thomasian celebration ever, but we Thomasians in “the world out here” cannot, should not, just sit idly doing nothing.

I – a product of the university’s then-College of Architecture & Fine Arts (Fine Arts – Advertising batch ‘81) – have initiated middle of last year a move to have 2010 declared as “Year of the Thomasian”. Unfortunately, my letter to Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (whose father, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal, is one of UST’s most illustrious alumni) has not produced any result except endorsement to Malacanang’s Legislative Office. Follow-ups also proved futile.

The proposed declaration was inspired by a similar move in 1999 to have 2000 declared as “The Year of OFWs” which I likewise initiated (It was eventually realized through Presidential Proclamation No. 243). This time, with Malacanang’s inaction despite the worthiness of the proposal, perhaps it’s up to us to do the declaration ourselves.

Yes, I propose that we, present-day Thomasians, do a symbolic declaration making 2010 “Year of the Thomasian”. No, it’s not a bid for self-aggrandizement, but our tribute to fellow Thomasians of decades and centuries past – great men and women in various fields of endeavor – who have helped in shaping the future of our country and in enriching its history and culture. I don’t see any legal impediment in such a move so why don’t we do it?

We don’t need to do it in an ostentatious manner. In fact, we can do it in a very simple but nonetheless meaningful and significant way. What I have in mind is a gathering of Thomasians at the UST campus on April 28 (Wednesday), the day Archbishop Miguel de Benavides founded UST in 1611.

We can invite famous Thomasians in showbiz, media, the arts, business, government service, fashion, music, etc. for greater impact and wider media coverage. Wearing golden yellow t-shirts or tiger outfits, let’s sing the UST hymn and shout the “Go USTe” cheer as one. We can do this very early in the morning as the sun rises or if we want a finale of fireworks display we can do it instead towards sunset.

Or maybe there are better ideas out there, let’s hear it. April 28 is just barely a month away, let’s move!

And let us not forget that we’re in “The Year of the Tiger” which puts more significance – we are tigers after all – if we are to declare 2010 as “Year of the Thomasian”. The symbolic declaration would most definitely be a fitting prelude to next year’s Quadricentennial celebrations, the grandest historical event since 1998’s Philippine Centennial. It would also be the perfect way to start making noise about our alma mater’s 400th birthday.

How about it fellow Tomasinos?!

Rhoel Raymundo Mendoza
UST Fine Arts-Advertising Batch ‘81

Internet sites I’ve created in relation to UST’s Quadricentennial:

My letter to the editor about the proposed declaration:

My alternative proposal as featured in The Varsitarian:


Sunday, January 24, 2010

UST landmarks to be declared national cultural treasures

(Reposted from The Manila Bulletin, Jan. 24, 2010)

January 23, 2010, 1:17pm

The University of Santo Tomas (UST), which will celebrate its 400th anniversary in 2011, will etch another milestone in its history with the formal declaration of the UST Main Building, the Central Seminary, the Arch of the Centuries and the University’s Open Spaces as National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum, Monday, Jan. 25.

Associate Professor Giovanna V. Fontanilla, director of the UST Public Affairs Office, says the declaration ceremonies will be held at the UST Main Building Lobby, 3 p.m., and will be attended by high-ranking school officials led by Fr. Rolando dela Rosa O.P., the university rector.

Fontanilla said the declaration ceremonies will be held following the unveiling of “The Foundation of the University of Santo Tomas by Archbishop Benavidez” oil canvas painting dated 1911 and restored through the UST Museum’s Heritage Conservation Fund.

Section 3 of the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act states that a “Natural Cultural Treasure is a unique object found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is significant and important to this country and nation.”

The recognition marks the first ever inclusion of an educational institution among the ranks of National Cultural Treasures, with the majority of structures being churches and the rest being terrestrial landmarks, intangible cultural property and movable objects.”

Fontanila said the declaration, considered a milestone for UST, is the culmination of efforts which began in 2004. She added that this coincides with the various activities for UST’s Quadricentennial celebration next year.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The following is the letter I sent today (by fax and e-mail) to the "Letters to the Editor" section of the top broadsheets:


Ten years ago on February 8, 2000 then-President Joseph Estrada signed Presidential Proclamation No. 243 declaring 2000 as “The Year of OFWs”. It was the result of a yearlong campaign that I – a former OFW in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – initiated in 1999. The aim was to focus more attention on OFWs and recognize overseas Filipinos’ immense contribution to the general good of our country, with the hope that it would jumpstart renewed efforts in promoting their welfare and well-being. (Incidentally I was also one of the earliest advocates of the Absentee Voting and Dual Citizenship Bills which were eventually passed into law)

On July 1, 2009 I faxed and emailed a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo proposing another declaration – 2010 as “Year of the Thomasian” (http://ust400. 2010-as-year-of-thomasian.html) – which I believe would be a very good way of ending the first decade of the 21st century and the perfect prelude to the global celebration of UST’s Quadricentennial in 2011. January is almost over and it seems no action has been taken to effect the declaration except for the referral made by Dir. Celso Cainglet of the President’s Correspondence Office to the Head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Mr. Joaquin Lagonera, on August 6, 2009 for appropriate action. It is, however, not yet late to push for the declaration.

So why 2010 as Year of the Thomasian?

UST’s distinction as the oldest university in Asia and the largest Catholic university in the world (in terms of student population in one campus) and the fact that it counts among its alumni four Philippine presidents, six Supreme Court justices, and hundreds – perhaps thousands even – of prominent and outstanding men and women in various fields of endeavor, plus UST’s role in Philippine history, should make the university’s 400th anniversary not only a celebration for the Thomasian community but for the entire country as well. In fact, we as a people should be thankful if only for the fact that such an event of great historical importance is happening during our lifetime.

As an alumnus I, therefore, believe that it is only fitting that a tribute be made to Thomasians. But lest this sound as a bid by present-day Thomasians themselves for self aggrandizement, this is just one UST alumnus’ idea of honoring the academic community that he was once, is still, and will always proudly be a part of – the Thomasian family.

President Arroyo, let this be one of your last significant actions before stepping down from the presidency. But more than that, let it be your ultimate tribute to one of the greatest Thomasians who ever lived – your own father, Diosdado Pangan Macapagal.

For your father and the men and women of centuries past who have brought honor to UST by doing their share in the shaping of our nation through their professional expertise or talent in the fields of engineering, commerce, education, law, arts and letters, fine arts, nursing, medicine, pharmacy and sciences; for the UST graduates of the recent past who stood out or continue to stand out in the fields of entertainment, music, films, business, pageants and public service; for the entire Thomasian family of the past four centuries – declare 2010 as YEAR OF THE THOMASIAN! It would be a tribute and recognition well-earned and well-deserved, the perfect gift to the Thomasian community on the eve of their alma mater’s 400th year.

Fine Arts – Advertising 1981
1990 POEA Bagong Bayani awardee

Friday, January 8, 2010

Thomasians let's see this proclamation through - 2010: Year of The Thomasian

Fellow Thomasians,

Now that the countdown to our alma mater’s Quadricentennial in 2011 has begun let us do our share in preparing for the big event. Considering the illustrious role that it has played in Philippine history and the contributions of its distinguished alumni in the shaping of our nation, UST’s 400th Anniversary should be considered as our country’s grandest celebration in years. In fact, we should be very thankful that this event of great historical significance is happening during our lifetime.

It is, therefore, not only fitting and proper but also imperative to do what we can in promoting the Quadricentennial and sharing ideas or launching related projects to ensure its success.

As a loyal and proud Thomasian I have initiated a call for President Arroyo to declare “2010: YEAR OF THE THOMASIAN” as the perfect way to usher in 2011 and as a fitting tribute – not so much to the current enrollees and living alumni of UST but – to the past decades’ and centuries’ great Thomasians.

On July 1, 2009 I faxed the Office of the President about this and it was referred by the Correspondence Office to the Legislative Liaison Office on August 6. We may be well towards the second week of January but we can still lobby for the declaration. (In 1999, while still a migrant worker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I initiated a campaign to have the following year declared as “The Year of OFWs”. January 2000 came and still no word about the declaration. I didn’t stop barraging Malacanang with faxes, emails and even phonecalls. On February 8 then-President Joseph Estrada finally signed Presidential Proclamation No. 243 effecting the declaration.)

Fellow Tomasinos, let us get this message across to President Arroyo. Let’s do this not necessarily to seek recognition for us living Thomasians per se, but to exalt the Thomasian Family of the past four hundred years.

You can check out my letter to PGMA at


What you can do to help in getting the message across to PGMA:

1. Forward this site’s link to fellow alumni or even to your friends:

2. If you have friends or relatives in media, forward a copy of the letter and ask them to write something about the campaign.

3. Copy the following and fax (736-1010) and/or e-mail ( it to PGMA:
I support the call for Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to declare 2010 as “YEAR OF THE THOMASIAN” in honor of UST’s great alumni of decades and centuries past and as a most proper and fitting way to usher in 2011, UST’s 400th Anniversary.

4. If you have celebrity friends – especially those who are also alumni of UST – who appear regularly on TV, request them to mention something about this campaign every chance they get.

5. Use all your connections in government and media to get this message across to PGMA.

Go Tomasinos! Let’s see this proclamation through! GO USTE!!!

Yours in the true Thomasian spirit,

Rhoel Raymundo Mendoza
Fine Arts-Advertising (Batch ’81)
1990 POEA Bagong Bayani awardee

Monday, December 21, 2009

Photos of Paskuhan 2009

Photos I took during Paskuhan 2009 can be found at

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Photos taken during the Q-Song Finals

Check out the photos I took during the finals of the Quadricentennial Song Writing Contest at

The Q-Song's Upbeat Version