Good food, good view, good company—the Tomasinong Bikolano warmly welcomed the UST Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) and UST Alumni Association Inc. (AAI) team as they conduct a chapter visit on May 18-19, 2018. Excited for a rare opportunity to get out of the city, the whole team was terribly excited for a change of scenery, and of course, to meet the people behind the success of the Bicol chapter. Not one to disappoint, the two-day visit prepared by the Bikolanong Tomasino was filled to the brim with activities that aimed to strengthen the ties of UST with its alumni residing in Bicol, as well as the other communities in Bicol.

Arrival at Legazpi, Albay
Arriving on the 17th, Dr. Rollo Milante, regional coordinator, and Engr. Ella Areola welcomed the whole team at the airport and arranged a sumptuous dinner at Koron, a restaurant whose specialty is Bikolano dishes. Dr. Milante and Engr. Areola then gave the whole team a brief tour of the Legazpi Blvd. where the team enjoyed the fresh air of Bicol and saw the reddish tip of Mayon Volcano at night. Soon after, the whole team retired for the night, getting ready for the jam-packed morning specially prepared by the Tomasinong Bikolano for them.

Unveiling of the Tomasinong Bikolano benches
The morning of the 18th saw the OAR and AAI team refreshed by a good night sleep and a good heavy breakfast courtesy of Dr. Milante, ready to take on the day. The first in the long list of activities of the day was the unveiling of the newly constructed and finished Tomasinong Bikolano benches located at the Legazpi Boulevard. Apparently, the benches, wet paint and all, were really new as, according to Dr. Milante, they were just finished the night before. Excitedly, who were present, the whole OAR team, Asst. Prof. Fredeswindo R. Medina, officer-in-charge of OAR, Dr. Milante and Engr. Areola—clad in their blue Tomasinong Bikolano shirt—snapped photos and prepared the necessary materials for the blessing Fr. Roman “Don” Santos, O.P. brave the hot rays of the sun and blessed the two benches—whose main purpose was to inform the other Thomasian alumni residing in the area of the existence of the chapter.

Courtesy call to the Rector of UST-Legazpi
Located at the capital of Albay, the formerly known Aquinas University of Legazpi has formally changed its name to University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi on September 12 of last year. The transfer of administration was made possible when the Certificate of Filing of Amended Articles of Incorporation was signed by the director of the Legazpi extension office of the Pasay-based Security and Exchange Commission, Marylou Duka Castillo. Currently, UST-Legazpi is headed by Rev.Fr. Ernesto M. Arceo O.P., UST-Manila’s former rector who served from 2006-2007. When the OAR, AAI team and Tomasinong Bikolano arrived at the UST-Legazpi’s Rector’s Office, Fr. Arceo extended his utmost hospitality to everyone present. All parties also exchanged pleasantries, laughter, stories and reports—particularly about the Bicol alumni chapter and their projects with emphasis on the blessing of their benches along the Legazpi Blvd.

Turnover of the donated toilets to San Jose Elementary School
Shortly after the courtesy call, the group traveled to Malilipot, Albay, for the turnover of the toilets donated by the Tomasinong Bikolano. The toilets were the chapter’s contribution to the influx of donation given to those who were unfortunately affected by the eruption of the Mayon volcano earlier this year. According to Dr. Milante, the chapter has decided to donate the lavatories because of its necessity to the evacuees. Additionally, He also disclosed that there was already an overflow of food and clothing aid but less of hygienic products—helping them stick with their decision to donate the washrooms. Mr. Milante who has a passion for the preservation of the environment and energies, also added that said bathrooms were also environment-friendly as they use rainwater for their flushes.

Meeting with the Bicol chapter officers
As the day came to an end, the whole team returned to Legazpi, Albay, to freshen up and prepare for the last activity of the day and the two-day visit. Capping the night off was a dinner hosted by the Tomasinong Bikolano officers for the OAR and AAI team, held at the Four Seasons Restaurant. An array of delicious Chinese food, which Dr. Milante claimed as some of his favorite food since he was a kid, was served to the delight of everyone. Everybody who was present gaily exchanged stories about the recently concluded activities, the chapter’s future plans, and fond memories of the university. As the dinner came to an end, the regional coordinator, Dr. Milante, formally introduced the Legazpi chapter of the Tomasinong Bikolano—their officers, their current projects and their history. He relayed to everyone how the chapter came to be, who prompted their establishment, when they were officially established and the people responsible for it. Immediately after, the floor was left open for Mr. Medina who officially introduced what he calls a “very young” team of the OAR and AAI. He also told the story of how the visit was decided—a surprisingly easy conversation with Dr. Milante while they were at the same place for an AAI meeting. And lastly, as an expression of gratitude for those who made the event possible—their warm welcome, hospitality, generosity, efforts and never-ending support—the UST OAR presented them a small token of appreciation in the form of a certificate.

Tomasinong Bikolano
Tomasinong Bikolano, the alumni chapter in Bicol, was established on January 15, 2012, under the prodding of Dr. Evelyn Songco, the then director of the Office of Alumni Relations, and Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa, former Rector of UST-Manila, and a Bikolano himself. There are several chapters under Tomasinong Bikolano and the first ones to be established were Legazpi and Naga who started out with 3-4 members each. Currently, the mother chapter, Tomasinong Bikolano, has more than 100 members and aims to create a group for all students who are from Bicol.