The 400-year-old University of Santo Tomas (UST) received from the National Museum on Monday afternoon four National Cultural Treasure citations due to its historical and cultural heritage in Philippine history.
The recognitions also marked another milestone for UST as it prepares for its quadricentennial celebration in 2011.
UST was founded by the Order of Preachers (OP) of Spain in January 1611. It was first erected in Intramuros, but was transferred in 1927 to its present location along EspaÃ±a, Sampaloc, Manila.
National Museum Director Corazon Alvina unveiled the National Cultural Treasures marker at the UST main building. She was assisted by UST Rector Fr. Rolando dela Rosa, OP, and UST Central Seminary Rector Fr. Gerard Timoner III, OP.
For his part, Dela Rosa accepted on behalf of UST the official declaration. â€œThis gives the university the distinctive honor of being the first educational institution in the country, whose landmarks have been declared national cultural treasures,â€ he said.
â€œThis is long overdue. I am tempted to think that it takes the government such a long time to give this recognition to UST because it wants ample proof that the university and it landmarks will not be permanently submerged in floods and other calamities that visit our country,â€ Dela Rosa said.
Pursuant to Republic Act No. 4846, or the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act of 1966, the National Museum formally declared four UST buildings as national treasures.
These are the UST Main Building, the Central Seminary, the Arch of the Centuries, and the Universityâ€™s Open Spaces.
It signals the first-ever inclusion of an educational institution among the ranks of National Cultural Treasures, majority of which are churches, with the rest being terrestrial landmarks, intangible cultural properties and movable objects.
Section 3 of â€œThe Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Actâ€ states that a â€œNational 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.â€
To help oversee the protection and preservation of its four National Cultural Treasures, UST is forming a special committee with assistance from National Museum experts. (PNA)