The oldest ever made university existing in the Philippines is found in Manila. It is also famous for being the largest in the city and also being a Pontifical University, the only one of its own in Asia. It is considered one of the largest Catholic universities in the world. Aside from that, UST is known for being the only university of its kind to be visited thrice by two popes namely, Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI. The Order of Preachers are the group that run the private and Roman Catholic university.
It consists of many independent colleges, faculties, institutes and schools. Each of these confers all kinds of graduate degrees. The Patron and Patroness of the University is St, Thomas Aquinas and St. Catherine. The University of Santo Tomas has also produced prominent people who have contributed a lot in Philippine’s history. Thomasians vary in prominence from saints, to professionals and presidents, to heroes, scientists and famous artists. It also has an athletic group of teams called the Growling Tigers which have consistently won in the Overall Championships.
Manila’s third Archbishop Miguel de Benavides takes the credit for the foundation of UST. He first arrived in the country on 1587 in a Dominican mission. In 1601 he got promoted in Manila as the archbishop. When he died in 1605 on July, he left his property consisting of properties worth 1,500 pesos and a library with the intention of using it as a fund to establish higher learning institutions. It was Bernardo de Santo Catalina who carried out his will. Catalina secured a building and a convent beside the Dominican church and Intramuros all for the purpose of establishing a college.
A request for permission in opening the said college was sent to King Philipp the third in Spain on the year 1609. But the process took two years after which a reply came to Manila in 1811. In 28 April of 1611 the signing of the foundation’s act was witnessed by Juan Illian who was a notary. The act of foundation was signed by Baltazar Fort, Francisco Minayo and Bernardo Navarro. Baltazar took the position of the first Rector and was appointed as Father Provincial. The university used to be an establishment for seminary in the 17th century for priests. It took its name from the saint Thomas Aquinas. It offered courses such as philosophy, grammar, civil and logic. By the year 1871 medicine and pharmacy were added to its list making it the first in Asia to offer the courses.
By the start of the 20th century the population of students enrolling in the university steadily grew. It multiplied until the Dominicans were granted a land in Sulucan Hills at Sampaloc. The land consisted of 25.1 hectare of soil. For the past few decades, the population kept growing and other courses and degrees were offered until it became the largest university in Manila.
The university, due its massive number of students moved from its original quarters on 1927. In May 24, 2011 the University of Santo Tomas came to be declared as a National Landmark. It is found near Espana Boulevard and Dapitan Street of Sampaloc in Manila. Its seal is made up of a shield with the cross of Dominicans quartering it.