View Full Version : Royal and Pontifical declaration: UST is the oldest.

01-27-2011, 02:49 PM
I hope the following articles would finally clear the air as to the 'oldest issue' between UST and USC (University of San Carlos).

01-27-2011, 02:50 PM
UST is oldest, period
By: Charmaine M. Parado
(Source: http://www.varsitarian.net/news/2011..._oldest_period)

NOW IT’S settled.

A scholar from Cebu has sided with the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the lingering dispute with Cebu’s University of San Carlos (USC) over who’s the oldest.

In an article in the January-April 2011 issue of Philippiniana Sacra, the official publication of the Ecclesiastical Faculties of UST, Fr. Aloysius Cartagenas argued that Santo Tomas, founded in 1611, has the rightful claim to the title, not San Carlos, which can only trace its foundation to the year 1867.

San Carlos cannot claim to have descended from the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded by the Jesuits in 1595, despite taking over the latter’s facilities when the Jesuits were expelled by Spanish authorities in 1769, Cartagenas said.

Cartagenas is a professor at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos of Cebu, part of the same institution as the then College of San Carlos until 1924 when they separated.

Cartagenas echoed the position of the Spanish Dominican historian Fr. Fidel Villarroel, O.P., who maintains San Ildefonso ceased to exist with the expulsion of the Jesuits.

The Cebu theologian said there is “no visible and clear link” between Colegio de San Ildefonso and USC.

On its website usc.edu.ph, San Carlos claims to be the “oldest in the country.”

“It was also here [in Cebu City] that the oldest school in the country emerged—the University of San Carlos,” USC said on its website.

San Ildefonso was a grammar school for boys attached to the Jesuit residence. But what emerged in 1783 or fourteen years after the Jesuit expulsion was a diocesan seminary named Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos, named after St. Charles Borromeo.

Cartagenas said USC only took over the facility of the former Colegio de San Ildefonso.

“The latter (USC) was specifically for the training of diocesan priests, and it simply took over the facility of the former, a Jesuit central house with an attached day school,” Cartagenas said.

Cartagenas said that the Vincentians took over the seminary in 1867 from the Cebu diocese and turned it into a seminario-colegio, or a seminary with a program of secondary education for boys not intended for ecclesiastical service.

“Following Church tradition, the foundation event and date of University of San Carlos should be the decree of Bishop Romualdo Jimeno on 15 May 1867 (turning over the seminary to the Congregation of the Missions) and the first day of classes in the history of what is now USC is 1 July 1867, the day P. Jose Casarramona welcomed the first lay students to attend classes at the Seminario de San Carlos,” Cartagenas said.

Historians point out that unlike UST, whose operations were interrupted only by war and were continuously under the Dominicans, San Carlos changed owners several times.

In 1924, San Carlos split into two under a Vatican decree that seminaries should only be for priestly training. In the 1930s, the San Carlos college moved to a different location, P. Del Rosario Street, while the seminary remained at Martires Street.

The Society of the Divine Word took over the college in 1935. It became a university only in 1948.

The seminary, meanwhile, was returned to diocesan control in 1998.

UST has been a university since 1645.

Historian’s explanation

Villarroel, a former UST archivist, had debunked USC’s claim as early as 1995 in an article in Unitas, the UST scholarly journal. That year, San Carlos celebrated its 400th year.

“Whatever date may finally be fixed and conventionally accepted as [USC’s] foundation date, it cannot be the year 1595,” Villaroel said in his essay published in the September 1995 issue of Unitas.

He said that in that year, the Jesuits established a mission in Cebu consisted of a residence and a church “under the advocation of San Ildefonso.”

“It should be noted that most Jesuit residences in the Philippines, as elsewhere, were called colegios, whether they were educational institutions, houses of formation, centers of apostolate, or seats of government and administration for the Society,” Villarroel said.

Villarroel also noted that when the Society of Jesus was expelled in 1769, the Spanish government confiscated all its institutions, houses, churches, schools and properties, leaving only the Colegio de San Jose of Manila in operation.

“All other Jesuit institutions, without exception, ceased to exist, never to rise again as they were,” Villarroel said. “No institution took over its works and mission, and none claims to be its continuator.”

However, Villarroel said the Colegio de San Ildefonso’s buildings were not demolished and were left to fall to ruin until Most Rev. Mateo Joaquin Rubio de Arevalo, bishop of Cebu, requested the Spanish government to use the structure for the establishment of a diocesan seminary.

“King Charles III granted the request, and steps began to be taken for the foundation for the seminary,” Villaroel said. “[In 1867], the Cebu Seminary of San Carlos became a mixed seminary, a seminary-college, offering courses to the candidates for the priesthood and, besides, some basic courses in humanities (then called latinidad) to non-boarding Cebuano kids.”

The Colegio de San Carlos of Cebu, according to Villarroel, was “entirely separated from the Seminary” in 1924 due to the Church’s “disapproval of mixed seminaries.”

“The publication of the new Canon Law promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for the Seminaries left the Vicentian Fathers with no option but to comply with the Church’s legislation and separate the college section from the seminary proper in all the conciliar seminaries,” Villarroel said.

“It is [my] contention that the passing from one institution to the other has not been done by homogeneous growth, and so one does not become the other,” Villarroel said. “You do not call a mango tree an orange tree just because the mango tree has grown in the place where formerly an orange tree was planted, grew and died.”

“Hopefully, some future historian of San Carlos University, with the aid of original documentation, may arrive at the clarification of the origins of his institution beyond any reasonable doubt,” Villarroel said.

01-27-2011, 02:51 PM
No contest: UST is oldest university

By José Victor Torres
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:40:00 01/27/2011

Filed Under: history, University, Education, Anniversaries
MANILA, Philippines—Learning history sometimes means memorizing superlatives—“the highest,” “the longest,” “the shortest,” “the earliest,” “the lowest,” etc. It sounds like studying history means grabbing a Philippine edition of the Guinness Book of World Records and reading through its facts.

Yet, it is these superlatives that give people, places and institutions distinction.

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) is one of these institutions. It is recognized as the oldest in Asia, older in fact than Harvard in the United States.

In addition to this claim to fame along with the titles “Royal” and “Pontifical” and “The Catholic University of the Philippines,” UST boasts of a historical continuity with its original owners and administrators—the Dominicans.

But its reputation as the “oldest university” was challenged by the University of San Carlos in Cebu which, in 1995, officially celebrated its “400th Foundation Day.” The Cebu institution traced its beginnings from the foundation of a Jesuit-run school, Colegio de San Ildefonso de Cebu, in 1595 to the present.

San Carlos’ assertion dates back to 1948 when the college was elevated to a university. Since then, newspaper articles published this “fact,” the latest in 1995 when writer F.C. Borlongan reiterated in a newspaper article that “San Carlos, not UST, is the oldest university.”

As well-respected historian and former UST archivist Fr. Fidel Villarroel, O.P. pointed out in a journal article, “UST or San Carlos of Cebu? A Question of Age”: “This is not the first time that newspapers, periodical publications and even an occasional history book have come out with such a claim which, in our considered judgment, is totally erroneous.”

With the ongoing quadricentennial celebration of UST, this contention must be resolved with available historical data. Several questions are to be answered: Which educational institution is the oldest? What are the evidences? And, why argue about these claims?

Looking through facts

UST’s history remains unquestionable: The Dominicans were at the helm of higher learning in Spanish-colonial Philippines. It is a tribute to their roles as stalwarts of education that their legacy—UST—still remains today as a bastion of higher learning.

Its foundation on April 26, 1611, happened more than three decades after the founding of the City of Manila. It was from Manila Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P., that a school of higher learning came into being through his last will that provided a library and funds to erect a “seminary-college.”

Its name was Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, later to be renamed as Colegio de Santo Tomas de Nuestra del Rosario, and, finally, to Colegio de Santo Tomas.

Through the years, the colegio underwent major changes that raised its stature. In 1619, Pope Paul V authorized the granting of degrees of Philosophy and Theology to all colleges administered by the Dominicans in the “Occidental Indies.”

In 1645, Pope Innocent X raised Santo Tomas to the rank of university. In 1785, the title “Royal” was given by Charles III in recognition of their loyalty to Spain during the war against England.

In 1902, it was given the title of “Pontifical” by Leo XIII and, in 1947, the title of “Catholic University” was granted by Pius XII.

What about San Carlos?

The university’s fame also provided the impetus for the Spanish government to assign it as the Bureau of Education in the mid-19th century when the secondary school system was revamped. This is the reason many student records of different schools, such as Ateneo and Letran, are found in the UST archives.

The case against San Carlos’ claim was made in two scholarly articles written by Villaroel and a professor of the San Carlos Seminary itself, Aloysius Lopez Cartagenas.

Villarroel wrote that the historical problem of San Carlos is this: “The case of the University of San Carlos is an entirely different story. Different in the sense that its origins have yet to be established solidly on the basis of unquestionable historical documentation. But whatever date may be fixed and conventionally accepted as the foundation date, it cannot be the year 1595.”

San Carlos has its roots tied with those of another institution—the Jesuit-run Colegio de San Ildefonso. What made it troubling is that this school has a spotty past.

San Ildefonso opened in 1595 and closed down in 1608, leaving only a primary school (similar to an elementary school) for boys. There was a lack of students as many Spanish residents left Cebu to settle in Manila.

The school closed down after the Jesuit expulsion from the Philippines in 1768. Its buildings, however, were used by the Diocese of Cebu for San Carlos Seminary, which was established in 1783.

In 1867, the seminary opened a government-authorized secondary school that became known as “Colegio de San Carlos.”

In 1924, during the American period, the colegio separated from the seminary and, in 1948, was given university rank by the Philippine government.

In its entire existence, the school changed administration from the diocese to the Vincentians and, finally, to the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) order.

Based on these facts, Cartagenas wrote: “The earliest roots of the University of San Carlos in Cebu are not the Jesuit Colegio de San Ildefonso of 1595 but Seminario de San Carlos which, under the Vincentian Fathers, began to admit lay students in 1867. The year 1867, not 1595, as claimed, appears to be the auspicious beginning of an educational institution that would later become a university.”


It seemed that University of San Carlos’ history does not come from one but three different schools—the 1595 Jesuit Colegio de San Ildefonso that began as an institution of higher learning but was reduced to a primary school that later closed down; San Carlos Seminary, which educated and trained the diocesan clergy; and, from this seminary, Colegio de San Carlos was founded in 1867, recognized in 1912, and becoming a university only in 1948.

Three different schools. Three different histories with a break in its timeline. This historical discontinuity and the institutions that were founded lacked what Villarroel called San Carlos’ “homogenous growth.”

“You do not call a mango tree an orange tree just because the mango tree has grown in the place where formerly an orange tree was planted, grew and died,” he wrote.

Accident of age

Why argue about superlatives?

At first glance, such arguments and contentions may be trivial to the reader. After all, both universities enjoy a reputation of excellence. But, as Villarroel said, “the accident of age may add luster to the institution.”

This has been true for UST throughout its 400 years of existence.

If we research, study and interpret the historical facts well, the honor of being “the oldest university” belongs to the University of Santo Tomas.

House resolution

Perhaps the issue was settled last Dec. 1 when the House of Representatives passed Resolution No. 51, “Resolution Congratulating the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on the occasion of its Quadricentennial University in 2011.”

The resolution was officially presented to UST Rector Magnificus Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P., surrounded by proud UST alumni among the lawmakers, in a special session of the lower chamber on Jan. 18.

On Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the opening of the 10th biennial conference of the International Council of St. Thomas Aquinas Universities (Icusta) headed by UST, with presidents and administrators of several prestigious international universities present, the resolution was read by Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo of Valenzuela City.

The resolution leaves no doubt as to which is the oldest university in the Philippines and Asia. It describes UST as “founded on April 28, 1611 by Archbishop Miguel de Benavides” and “has the oldest extant university charter in the Philippines and Asia.”

The UST charter and other historic documents, preserved in the UST archives, should show the historical and documentary validity of UST’s claim as the oldest university in this part of the world.

UST events

UST has been celebrating its 400th anniversary this week. On Monday, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales blessed the UST Jubilee Door at UST Santisimo Rosario Church and gave an apostolic blessing in a High Mass on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, who has proclaimed 2011 as UST Jubilee Year.

Yesterday, UST formally opened the 10th biennial conference of the International Council of St. Thomas Aquinas Universities at UST Santisimo Rosario Church after a High Mass presided over by Archbishop Karl Adams, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines.

President Aquino addressed the conference, an international federation of higher-education institutions taking after the principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, the universal patron saint of Catholic schools. The UST Conservatory of Music later mounted the opera “Cavelleria Rusticana” at the UST College of Medicine Auditorium.

Today, the Quattrromondial, the UST Quadricentennial Memorial Monument, a 10-meter sculpture in bronze and glass by internationally renowned Filipino sculptor Ramon G. Orlina and modeled by actors Piolo Pascual and Charlene Gonzales, will be unveiled at UST Quadricentennial Park.

On Friday, a High Mass marking the UST Quadricentennial and the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas will be held at the UST Grandstand and Football Field, at 5 p.m. The principal celebrants are Cardinal Zenon Grocheleweski, the special papal legate sent by Benedict XVI, and Fr. Bruno Cordore, master general of the Dominican Order.

The alumni homecoming party follows.

(Editor’s Note: Jose Victor Torres was a former senior historical researcher of the Intramuros Administration. He has a doctorate in History and has won the National Book Award for his Intramuros history guidebook.)

01-28-2011, 12:20 PM
congrats to UST! 400 years! that's no mean feat! only the european universities like cambridge, oxford, paris, etc., are older than you. i'm proud to say i have uncles, aunts, and several cousins who are tomasinos and have been contributing in no small way to the advancement of their respective professions.

all the best and more power to another 400 years of unending grace! go uste!

*cross-posted in the "growling corner: anything goes" thread*

02-04-2011, 10:50 AM

Past Forward
The oldest university
By Jobers Bersales
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 08:11:00 02/03/2011

Filed Under: Festive Events (including Carnivals), history, Schools

Kung hei fat choy or Gong xi fa chai to all the Tsinoys and Pinoys alike who are ushering in the Year of the Rabbit today. It is supposed to be an auspiciously good year but I read somewhere that those born in the year of the Snake (my year), will not be as lucky with the rabbit. Maybe because snakes eat rabbits? But then again, as the old adage says ‘Life is what we make it”. Happy new year to all!

* * *

In the other Wednesday’s front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (sister publication of CDN) carried a commentary by Jose Victor Z. Torres, a professor of history at De la Salle University and presumably an alumnus of the University of Sto. Tomas, entitled “No Contest: UST is the oldest university”.

The article was obviously timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary celebrations of UST last week but somehow left a bad taste in the mouth of those who identify their education with the University of San Carlos past or present. In it, Torres states that USC challenged UST as the “oldest university” (his quotes) when it officially celebrated its 400th Foundation Day in 1995, adding that “San Carlos’ assertion dates back to 1948 when the college was elevated to a university” and that “since then newspaper articles have published this fact” citing the latest being an article written in 1995 by a certain F.C. Borlongan entitled “San Carlos not UST is the oldest university”.

I immediately texted USC president Fr. Dionisio M. Miranda upon reading the article around 8 o’clock that same morning. Ironically, USC’s president was at that very moment inside the campus of UST to join in the quadricentennial celebrations and attend the international conference of Catholic educators there. I asked him whether eyebrows were raised at him given the news article which must have by then been selling like hotcake inside the campus. He answered back a few hours later, “No one has mentioned anything here. We are all preoccupied at the moment with the closing rites.” At least he was not being lynched right there.

But beyond the levity of the moment, let me help clarify a few things in the Torres commentary. First, in fairness to USC and the SVD administrators who have been running it for 75 years now, the claim of the rootedness of USC to the Colegio de San Ildefonso established by the pioneer Jesuit missionaries in Cebu in 1595 was not made only after 1948. How ironic it would be for USC to claim being the “oldest university” when it very well knows and has on record the official document declaring it as a university only on July 1, 1948.

Torres has apparently not read the first printed official history of San Carlos which published by the Vincentian Fathers who were then running San Carlos in 1917. This book, “Reseña Historica del Seminario-Colegio de San Carlos de Cebu, 1867-1817”, a 300-plus page book marking the 50 years of administration by the Vincentians, states in no uncertain terms that the roots of San Carlos date to the founding of the Colegio de San Ildefonso in 1595. Believed to have been written by Jose Ma. Cuenco, later the Archbishop of Jaro, the “Reseña” would not have made such a claim if there were no earlier pronouncement by Vincentians and even the Dominicans and seculars who had administered San Carlos before the former came in 1867. For where in heaven (or maybe in purgatory?) would the Vincentians find the information linking San Carlos to the earlier Colegio de San Ildefonso, which closed in 1769 following the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain and her colonies? This is a sharp break that even later official commemorative books issued by USC have not failed to mention, thus implying that USC had no pretense over its past nor any intention to show a homogeneous connection to the 1595 school.

It is in fact the reopening of the same campus ten years later as Real Seminario de San Carlos that effectively began USC’s direct connection to a datable past. This much is stated in the national marker installed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (formerly the National Historical Institute) that is now stuck on a wall outside the Dingman Building façade along P. del Rosario Street.

The USC 400 celebrations in 1995 was bound to stir up controversy, as the 1995 newspaper article of F.C. Borlongan in the Manila Bulletin explicitly stated. Although I was not privy to the celebrations, my take is that the university administration then was but paying homage to a claim that had been there even before they ever set foot in USC. But there was never the claim that USC was the oldest university. In fact, I do remember the website slogan of USC at that time was “A school in 1595, a University since 1948”.

I understand that the current USC administration will issue an official statement on the Torres article, one that will hopefully assuage the ruffled feathers of what is, without doubt, the oldest university of the country, UST.