Here Are 10 Things Younger Than The University of Santo Tomas


If you’ve ever stepped foot inside UST, whether it’s during UAAP season, Paskuhan, Sunday mass, or any other normal school day, the first things you’ll notice are the loose-cement buildings, Spanish-era architecture, and its almost ancient aura. While it’s now busily filled with cars and outfitted with televisions, mesmerizing lights, and state-of-the-art technology for medicine and the arts, UST’s hallowed halls have survived wars of independence, digital revolutions, and even three colonization periods. Clearly it has withstood the test of time, and is continuing to do so. 

Prayer reveal, please.

Founded through the initiative of Bishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P. on April 28, 1611, the University of Santo Tomas is known as the oldest existing university in Asia and the largest Catholic university in the world. 

Authorized as a Colegio to confer academic degrees in Theology and Philosophy in 1619, the college elevated to university status in 1645, and was subsequently placed under the Royal patronage of the Spanish monarchy in 1680. In 1902, Pope Leo XIII made UST a “Pontifical University,” dubbing it as the Royal and Pontifical University in the Philippines and in Asia.

UST Arch of the Centuries.

UST Arch of the Centuries.

With the original campus located in Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila, UST was first called Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario, and later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomas, in memory of the foremost Dominican Theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas. The UST Printing Press was transferred to España, Manila in 1940, a year before the historic Pearl Harbor bombing.

UST Main Building.
Photo by Jude Angelo Camot.

Turning 411 years old in 2022, UST is the alma mater of thousands of Filipinos throughout the centuries. Some of the impressive alumni that have walked the same halls as its students today include four Filipino heroes who shaped the nation: Jose Rizal, Emilio Jacinto, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Apolinario Mabini; Philippine Presidents such as Manuel Luis Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Jose P. Laurel and Diosdado Macapagal; various Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, senators, congressmen, scientists, architects, engineers, artists, sculptors, writers, and the like.

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There’s literally a park within the university that mounts a naked, golden statue of Piolo Pascual originally built to commemorate the institution’s quadricentennial anniversary—we’re not kidding.

Long story short, UST is old. And by old, we mean old old. While the Philippines is a young country, UST can proudly say that it’s older than many other important structures and inventions across the globe. Here are 10 things younger than UST:

1| Harvard 

The private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts was founded by Puritan Clergyman, John Harvard on September 18, 1636. Despite being the oldest institution for higher learning in the U.S., the world-renowned university is actually younger than UST by more than a quarter-century.


2| Discovery of the Cell

Who knew UST was older than the discovery of biology’s building blocks of life? Scientist Robert Hooke’s discovery of the cell wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t refined the compound microscope in 1665. Later that year, he published his book Micrographia which illustrated his findings, fundamentally advancing medical technology and treatment as we know it today. This and other scientific efforts paved the way for the development of antibiotics in 1877.


3| Calculus

Calculus is what many engineering students’ nightmares are made of. While Newton came up with many theorems and uses prior in the middle of the 1660s, the independent invention of Calculus is credited to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz after publishing his paper titled, A New Method for Maxima and Minima, as Well Tangents, Which is not Obstructed by Fractional or Irrational Quantities in 1684.

4| Newton’s Laws of Motion

Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), a.k.a. the classical mathematical description of the fundamental force of universal gravitation and Isaac Newton’s Three physical Laws of Motion were formulated in 1687. 

5| Glass Jars

The Mason Jars and Ball Jars were invented in 1858 and 1884, respectively. Twenty-six-year-old John Landis Mason first produced the jars in the Crowleytown village of New Jersey, with collectors coining them as “Crowleytown Jars” at the time. Later patented as the Mason Jars, the glass jars with the threaded screw-on caps were intended to be air and water-tight—this modern invention revolutionized the way we preserved food, aiding farmers to prevent massive food waste and spoilage. Nowadays, it’s also a popular home decor object.

6| Blood Transfusion

In 1628, English physician William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood. Shortly after in 1665, the first recorded successful blood transfusion occurred in England when Physician Richard Lower executed the transfusion of blood from other dogs in order to keep his dogs alive. I’d honestly do the same for my dogs.

7| Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night

Embracing mood, symbol, expression, and sentiment, van Gogh’s most famous work is inspired by the view from his window in Saint-Rémy in southern France. It was painted in June 1889.

The Starry Night, oil on canvas by Vincent van Gogh, 1889; in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. New York: Museum of Modern Art
Photo by MOMA.

8| Plastic

The first synthetic polymer was invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt, but the invention of the first fully synthetic plastic is credited to Leo Baekeland’s introduction of the “Bakelite” in 1907.

9| Malacañan Palace

Built in 1750 by Spanish nobleman Don Luis Rocha, the palace was originally intended as a summer home to house the Spanish aristocrat. Fact: it’s Malacañan–not Malacañang. Former President Corazon Aquino in 1986 released an order to use the term “Malacañan” to refer to the official residence of the president and “Malacañang” to refer to the president’s official office. It later became the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the Philippines in 1935.


10| Juan Ponce Enrile

Born on Feb. 14, 1924, Enrile, still standing at 97 years old, has currently outlived 12 former Presidents of the Republic of the Philippines––yes, Emilio Aguinaldo included. Additionally, he witnessed World War II, the Vietnam War, EDSA I, and II, and he’s even older than Mickey Mouse.

But hey, at least one thing is older than him at this point.

Miguel de Benavides O.P. Monument, between Plaza Mayor and Lover’s Lane in UST.

UST turns 411 years old in 2022.


Abogado. (2021). Juan Ponce Enrile is older than these things at 97. Retrieved from

Association for the Advancement Blood & Biotherapies. (2018) Highlights of Transfusion Medicine History. Retrieved from 

Harvard University Education. (2018) The History of Harvard. Retrieved from

Kelly, A. (2015). The Mason Jar, Reborn. Retrieved from National Geographic Society. (2019) History of the Cell: Discovering the Cell. Retrieved from 

New York: The Museum of Modern Art. (2019) Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night. Retrieved from

Santos, E. (2016). Things You May Not Know About the Malacañan Palace. Retrieved from

Science History Institute. History and Future of Plastics. Retrieved from Starbird, M. (2016). Who Invented Calculus: Newton or Leibniz? Retrieved from 

The University of Santo Tomas. University History. Retrieved from 

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