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Jan 3 2011

OVER the past 80 years, the Varsitarian has been the primary chronicler of UST events and agenda-setter of Thomasian opinion. Once in a while, groundbreaking issues hog the Varsitarian’s headline. But when these issues expand in significance and scope, the Varsitarian then captures the essence of its reportage through a special or commemorative issue.

The ‘Holy’ Issues

The Varsitarian has put out special issues that recounted the University’s papal encounters.

The first visit of Pope John Paul II to the Philippines in 1981 graced the first religious special issue of the Varsitarian. Under Saturnino Javier as editor in chief, the Varsitarian narrated how the Holy Father beatified five Thomasians—one of them St. Lorenzo Ruiz—along with 11 other missionaries who were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan in 1637. The student publication also noted how the Holy See criticized the Marcos dictatorship, which had suspiciously lifted Martial Law in time for the Pope’s visit.

With Karina Torralba at the helm, the Varsitarian again released a special issue highlighting the Pope’s return to the country in 1995 to celebrate the World Youth Day. This 24-page special edition chronicled what the staff called the “most unforgettable 11 days in the history of UST,” from Cardinal Eduardo Pironio’s opening speech at the St. Martin de Porres building to the Holy Mass presided by the Supreme Pontiff at the Luneta Grandstand, which capped the annual youth day celebration. Also included were the personality profiles of Pope John Paul II and some of the event’s international participants.

Ten years later, the Varsitarian ran a special supplement about Pope John Paul II, this time as a tribute following his death on April 2, 2005. Spearheaded by Eldric Paul Peredo, this 26-page magazine recognized his three decades of service to the Catholic Church. It also contained accounts of the Holy Father’s life when he was still Karol Cardinal Wojtyla.

The Varsitarian also stood as raconteur to the passing away of the other popes. Without coming out with separate issues, the V released frontpage reports and condolences about the deaths of Popes Pius XI (February 10, 1939), Paul VI (August 6, 1978), and Pope John Paul I (September 28, 1978).

V and the Nation

On Feb 9, 1970, the Varsitarian released the first of a two-part special issue, titled “Nationalism and the Thomasian,” which analyzed the political ruckus plaguing the country that time.

Varsitarian editor in chief Hernando Gonzales II put on the banner the slogan “More than an angry placard,” explaining in the article that followed that although Thomasians hardly joined mass demonstrations, they weren’t any less of a Filipino.

The special edition stemmed from the idea of non-demonstrative vigilance, including articles about the “Filipinization” of UST, the student organizations’ attempts to build bridges toward the less fortunate and an analysis of fascism. The issue also showed excerpts of Claro M. Recto’s and Varsitarian founder Jose Villa Panganiban’s articles on nationalism.

Another special issue published in 1987 featured a non-Thomasian, President Corazon Aquino. This four-page supplement detailed Aquino’s Feb. 9 visit to UST which conferred on her a degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, and the Golden Cross Award, the highest recognition given by the University to individuals who served as “a living example of Thomasian virtues and ideals which every Filipino should emulate.”

The special issue also included Aquino’s 10-minute acceptance speech where she reminded everyone that despite her administration’s revival of democracy, liberation still remained “half won” because of widespread poverty.


The first few days of classes are easily the worst for a college freshman, especially in a school as diversely populated as UST. With this in mind, then editor-in-chief Reyann Kong published the first freshmen supplement in June 2001. It included “survival” tips and inspiring tales of successful Thomasians.

Come March, a graduation issue will be released featuring the memoirs of selected Varsitarian staff members and other UST students. The supplement, aside from highlighting Thomasians who have excelled in various licensure examinations like 2002 Bar topnotcher Arlene Maneja, will also include compilations of messages by some graduating UST students.

Lampoon Issue

Initially known as the Pancitarian under the tutelage of Varsitarian founder and first humor editor Jose Villa-Panganiban, the lampoon issue served as the spoof counterpart of the regular publication. It was later changed to Vuisitarian which contained parodies and satires about University life.

Although most of the contents were written to tickle the Thomasian readers, some write-ups became controversial because of its highly negative implications against the University’s faculty members and administrators. V Tanya Justine R. Baldovino, Paul Nicholas P. Dimerin, Arvee Fantilagan, Ayn Rand I. Parel, and Ana Mae Roa