My business partner, Engr. Boyet Cruz, is an outstanding alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas. Every so often, he’d tell me stories of how it was when he was still studying there. I like his little anecdotes because I get to see UST in a different light.

Truth be told, I was supposed to study at the UST but fate had other plans. A fire gutted our house forcing our family to move to Los Banos where I earned my college degree at the University of the Philippines.

I’ve always perceived UST to be a venerable institution. And 400 years later, it still is. Not only is it known for all sorts of firsts—its Main Building is the first earthquake-proof building in the country, for example—UST has also produced a stellar roster of alumni including four Philippine presidents, half a dozen Supreme Court justices, and a number of business tycoons. And unless we forget, Jose Rizal and San Lorenzo Ruiz once walked along its cobbled streets. There must be something about this university that’s able to produce such greatness. Since we are training teachers and principals now, I got to know a lot of fine teachers and principals who graduated from UST. One such person is the incredibly dynamic Mrs. Lilia Vengco, former La Salle Greenhills principal.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to take this for granted. After all, the University of Santo Tomas has been with us forever, its spacious grounds the training ground for promising minds. But as we celebrate UST’s 400th year, it’s good to remember this institution’s unique place in our nation’s history.

P.S. Congratulations to all those young minds who passed the UST Entrance Exams! You’re on your way to greatness!