MANILA, Philippines — Host school University of Santo Tomas kicked off UAAP Season 79 in grand fashion with a parade and a pyromusical at the Plaza Mayor in its campus on Saturday, September 3.
Asia’s oldest university, which opted to separate the opening festivities from game day, welcomed the 7 other UAAP member-schools to its campus in what school officials intended as an effort to share the Thomasian culture across the league.
Although the event was previously pegged to be a simple one, it turned out to be a grand celebration a day before the games officially begin.
A parade for student-athletes from every school kicked things off. The contingents started their march from the Arch of the Centuries, a remnant of the entrance to the original Intramuros campus which was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2010.
UAAP student-athletes experienced one of UST’s annual traditions of having its freshman students enter the Arch to start their college journey. Seniors exit the Arch once they graduate.
The parade moved down Lovers’ Lane, past the statue of UST founder Miguel de Benavides, and through to the Plaza Mayor right in front of the iconic Main Building. The Japanese Imperial Army converted Plaza Mayor into an internment camp during World War II.
The all-student UST Symphony Orchestra performed the official theme song for this season, “Dare to Dream,” while Louie Vigil, team captain of the UST men’s basketball team, led the Oath of Sportsmanship.
UST Rector Reverend Father Herminio Dagohoy formally opened the games. This was promptly followed by a 10-minute fireworks display from atop the Main Building, which is a UST tradition for big events throughout the year.
New demonstration sport ballroom dancing was also introduced Saturday, with the University of the Philippines dominating the competition.
The men’s basketball tournament tips off Sunday, September 4 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Check out the photos below: