A message from Former Regent Dr. Fr. Gabriel Pastrana, O.P.

Dear UST Medical Alumni,



One hundred and fifty years ago, on the 28 of May of 1871, the University of Santo Tomás opened the doors of her newly established Facultad de Medicina y Cirugia to a small group of students to pursue medical studies.


A medical school had been the dream and mission of Father Miguel de Benavides, O.P., and of so many Dominican Friars after him. That commitment was based on their understanding of their mission: following the inspiration and charisma of the founder of the Dominican Order, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, to bring the Good News to the farther corners of the earth: Jesus’ message of forgiveness and redemption to all men. And just as Jesus showed his love and compassion for the poor, the downtrodden and the sick, the Dominican Friars understood that together with their preaching the Word of God, the medical graduates will bring hope and healing to all as a sign of God’s love for them. With a shortage of people and very limited material resources, the Dominican Fathers were very well aware of the daunting task of establishing a medical school. Yet they never wavered in their commitment.


A few years after its opening, the new school graduated its first batch of Licenciados en Medicina, and they were ready to serve the medical needs of the people. Year after year a new group of licenciados would follow. After a few decades of its foundation, there were more students in the medical school than in all the other Faculties of the University. And so it was: each year the same story was repeated with the number of graduates growing steadily.


The First One Hundred Years. One hundred years after its beginning, the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery celebrated its First Centennial on May 28th, 1971. Being the oldest, and for many years, the only one medical school in the country, it can truly be said that the health and medical care of the Filipino people was in the hands of the UST Medical graduates.


With less pomp and circumstance than it is now the case, the Centennial event was celebrated with grave solemnity and sincere pride. Among the participants in the celebration was a small group of Golden Jubilarians that the Organizing committee was able to track down and brought them to the UST campus. It was then also that the idea of inviting the medical alumni in the U.S. was brought up and worked through. Efforts were made to get in touch with as many alumni as possible. A few months later, a small group of medical alumni travelled to the Philippines to attend the first Balikbayan Medical Seminar organized by the Faculty and joined afterwards the solemn closing ceremonies of the First Centennial. The experience was a most satisfying success. Most important, the seed had been planted for what it would come as a result of that contact.


Henceforth, year after year, that seed grew to become what is today the USTMAAA: an extraordinary, most outstanding and professional medical association in the U.S. Through the years, that relationship between the medical school and its alumni in the U.S., initiated fifty years ago on the occasion of the celebration of the first one hundred years of the history of the School, has become an extraordinary way for the Alumni to be involved in the life and activities of the Alma Mater. That contact has also facilitated the involvement and participation of the Alumni in all kinds of medical missions to provide medical services to the poor people in the remote areas of the Philippines.


These past fourteen months have been the most difficult and trying time in our lives. All the plans and committee work preparing for the celebration of the Sesquicentennial of the Medical School had to be cancelled or postponed for future dates. Suddenly this cruel and savage global Covid-19 pandemic fell merciless upon us, taking away the lives of millions of people. Most unfortunately, a good number of our own medical alumni in the Philippines, in the U.S. and other parts of the world have paid with their lives the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their profession. We admire their determination, mourn their departure and pray that they rest in the eternal peace and grace of the Father.


On this 28 of May, let us all join the small group of the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery as they gather at the UST Campus in a solemn ceremony presided by the Very Rev. Fr. Richard Ang O.P., Rector, and concelebrated by other Dominican Fathers.


May the spirit and grace that have guided the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery for the past one hundred and fifty years continue to lighten the way for the next hundred years.



Mabuhay to the UST Medical School and all its Alumni.



Gabe Pastrana

Former Regent, Faculty of Medicine

May 28, 2021



Note:  Mr. Gabriel Pastrana was the regent during the centennial anniversary of the Faculty in 1971. Accordingly, he travelled to the USA, together with then Dean, Buenaventura U.V. Angtauco M.D., to collect funds for the celebration. That triggered the creation of the USTMAAA.


HOMILY OF THE VERY REV. FR. RICHARD G. ANG, OP on the occasion of the 410th Foundation Anniversary of the University of Santo Tomás 28 April 2021

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.


Sa araw na ito, pinagdiriwang natin ang ika-410 anibersaryo ng pagkatatatag ng Pamantasan ng Santo Tomas.


Tinatanong ko ang aking sarili kung nararapat ba o napapanahon bang magdaos tayo ng espesyal na okasyon sa mga oras na ito, kung kalian marami sa atin ang nagdurusa at naghihirap sa buhay dala ng hamon ng pandemya. Tulad ko at kagaya ninyo, kailangan nating mabuhayan ng loob para maipagpatuloy ang buhay ng ating akademikong komunidad.


Mungkahi ng pilosopong si Michael Moga: “Essential to life is the occurrence of events—those special moments which appear in human life and which give the possibility of living in a new and different way. There are exciting stories in all of these events—stories that deserve to be told and retold.”


Masasabi kong nararapat at napapanahon na magbalik-tanaw tayo sa kasaysayan ng ating Unibersidad. May mapupulot tayong aral at inspirasyon. Magkaiba man tayo ng mga ideya at karakter, nagkakaisa tayo bilang mga Tomasino. Kaya sariwain natin ang kwento ng ating simula.


I have always told my students in my class that in history, we look into the past as in to a mirror in the hope of not only seeing ourselves clearly reflected but also of becoming masters of present and future events. Through the centuries, Fr. Miguel de Benavides is regarded as the founder of the University. We are familiar with the bronze statue in the campus which is a famous landmark.


The late and eminent Church historian Fr. Fidel Villarroel, O.P. reveals a lot of interesting facts about Benavides in his two-volume magnum opus about the history of UST. By browsing through the pages, we can somehow get a well-defined image of the man and his character.


Fr. Miguel de Benavides was made Archbishop of Manila in 1601, but what caught my attention from among the written details are the following, which I deem or I think are equally important, subjective as I may be. Benavides knew how to speak Hokkien and how to write Mandarin as a result of interacting with Chinese immigrants doing business outside of Intramuros. In fact, he was a 17th-century frontliner. He took care of the sick immigrants in the hospital. This facility of the foreign language enabled Benavides to publish the Doctrina Christiana in Chinese, which is one of the earliest printed books in the copy. We have a copy in the Miguel de Benavides Library.


Benavides also fought passionately for justice and peace, a la Bartolome de las Casas, by confronting violations of human rights against the local people, giving them a sense of optimism. Benavides believed that evangelization should be done without the use of force or violence. And


most significantly, in his last will, Benavides donated all his books and all his possessions for the future foundation of a Colegio, which he did not see coming to fruition in 1611 because he died six years earlier, in 1605. This is the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario also known as the Colegio de Santo Tomas, a school offering education for those who would like to study to become priests. The humble institution in Intramuros eventually became the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas in España.


Indeed, from small beginnings may come great things. As the parable in the Gospel of Mark would say: “How shall we portray the kingdom of God symbolically or to what shall we compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which at the time of its being sown in the ground is the smallest of all seeds on Earth. But once it is sown, it grows and becomes the tallest of all plants—even producing large branches so that the birds of the sky can settle under its shade.” Ang talinhagang ito ay nakatuon sa mga taong pinagdudahan ang kakayahan at misyon ni Hesus at kanyang mga disipulo. Tanong nila: “Paano magiging Mesiyas ang isang anak ng karpintero?” Hindi ito kapani-paniwala. Ito’y katawa-tawa.


‘Yan nga ang hirap sa ating mga tao. Kung minsan, nagsasabi ka ng totoo, hindi ka pinaniniwalaan. Kung nagsasabi ka naman ng kasinungalingan, ito pa ang pinakikinggan nang mabuti.


Interpretasyon ng isang propesor ng Bibliya na ipinakikita ng parabulang ito ang kaibahan ng maliit na butil sa malaking puno. Nauwi sa pagkabigo, sa pagkamatay sa Krus ang pangangaral at misyon ng ating Panginoon. Ngunit sa Linggo ng Pagkabuhay, nagkaron ng malaking malaking bunga ang kanyang pag-sakripisyo. In the years to come, Christianity would have a universal impact, changing the course of world history. It would grow to prominence, offering refuge to all races—black or white, yellow or brown. And in the parable, the birds of the sky settling under the shade of the large plant refer to the Gentiles.


Today, there are around 2.3 billion Christians in the planet—Catholics, Protestants, Greek Orthodox Christians, and so on. And after 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, UST remains to be the bastion of the Catholic faith in Asia and in the country. Truly, grace is the source of all forms of human productivity.


Let us then go back to the early days of our institution in the 17th century. The Colegio started only with 12 becarios or 12 scholars. Now, we have a large student population. Quadricentennial Rector Fr. Roland de la Rosa, O.P. fittingly wrote in 2012 that the history of UST is a history that has been impelled by faith, propelled by hope, and compelled by love or charity. This is the Tria Haec, symbolized by the three statues on top of the Main Building.


Benavides and the Dominicans founded the University to inform and transform educators and students. [Benavides] never lost hope that the Colegio would soon be built in God’s own time, and his charitable contribution of a small library and few possessions encouraged other donors to also give. So you see, this paved the way to the foundation day on that fateful day—April 28,1611.

One small good deed has a multiplier effect. It is like throwing a small pebble into a pond, creating a ripple.


Benavides manifested the Tria Haec in his life. What is the Tria Haec? These are the three supernatural theological virtues. They are God’s unending grace elevating all our human nature. With our efforts, we can only do very little, but with God’s help, we can do so much more. In history I said, we look into the past as into a mirror in the hope of seeing ourselves not only clearly reflected but also of becoming masters of the present and the future.


Today in our time, there is an ongoing war. It is not the war of guns and bombs. It is not the war of planes and tanks. It is the war for life. It is the war for health. It is the war for being and for well-being. All of humanity is under threat of the coronavirus. The pandemic has only given emphasis that life is short. It has given emphasis to our weaknesses, to our vulnerabilities, with the grim reality of sickness and death, sorrow and separation. We know of family, relatives, and friends who have passed on. Noong isang taon, nawalan ako ng ninang, ng tiyahin, ng isang best friend, ng isang classmate from high school. Hindi ganun kadali ‘yun. Hindi ganung kadali tanggapin na ang mga mahal mo sa buhay o mga kakilala mo ay mawawala na lang nang ganun. Many of us are restless, anxious, fearful of the uncertainty that the future may bring. Sabi nga ng maraming Pilipino, kung hindi tayo mamamatay sa virus, mamamatay tayo sa gutom. We pray that God may give people, families, and institutions like UST the ability to survive shocks and devastations in order to build a stronger community.


My fellow Thomasians, allow me to say that going through the history of the University was not meant to burden your memory. It was meant to illumine your soul. It was meant to revitalize the Tria Haec hiding only inside of you. Today, we need to believe more than ever even if there are reasons to doubt. We can hardly ignore the physical realities of the pandemic times. However, faith would go far beyond such realities. Faith is seeing your light with your heart while all your eyes can see is darkness. It is acknowledging our limitations, entrusting ourselves completely into the hands of God. Diyos ko, kayo na po ang bahala sa mga mahal namin sa buhay. Diyos ko, kayo na po ang bahala sa buong Pilipinas. Diyos ko, kayo na po ang bahala sa buong mundo.


Today, we need to hope more than ever even if there are causes for despair. We can barely dismiss the difficulties of the present quarantine situation yet hope transcends such hardships. Sorren Kierkegard says: “Hope is passion for what is possible.” Hope can help us get through the darkest of time, giving us the power to overcome the challenges.


Oscar Hammerstein II wrote these lyrics for a song in the musical “Carousel”: Walk on with hope in your heart, and you will never walk alone. May pag-asa habang may buhay. May pag-asa habang may karamay. Today, we need to love. We need to be charitable more than ever, even if there are justifications for resentment, for rancor, for anger, for bitterness. We cannot easily close our eyes to our critics and detractors, to those who refused to help us when we needed it the most, to those who spoke ill of us. However, love and charity rise above feelings and challenges, or rather, differences.


It is wishing our offenders goodness in- spite- of what they have done. This is what Jesus did, but we are not Jesus. We struggle when we are asked to do what He did. It is very difficult. It is a very hard teaching. Perhaps, with our human efforts, with our strength, it may even be impossible. But with God’s grace, anything is possible.


And so, my dear friends, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Deus Caritas Est, “Love is the light—in the end, the only light that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep us living and working.” There are times when we tumble, we break, we fail, but then again, we rise, we heal, we restore, and we proceed.


I hope that this solemn celebration of the Foundation Anniversary of the University will be very meaningful for you today. Happy 410th anniversary!


Continuation of the Article of Fr. Lucio Gutierrez, O.P. (Part 3)

 The Hospital of San Gabriel


By the middle of 1589, another building was added to the religious house of the Parian, a Hospital for the Sangleyes of Manila and its environs. The hospital was called San Gabriel, the same name given to the church before. By June of 1589, the Church was being built in stone and the Hospital of San Gabriel, was being built in bricks and stone.

The Letter of Cobo is a first witness to the development taking place. He writes:

Of these developments, much is due to the Governor [General] of the Islands, called Santiago de Vera. He has greatly supported the conversion of the Chinese and has given money to build the church in stone, now in the process of being built, of three naves, with a house for the friars. Apart from this, God has provided alms, and within the short time we have been here, around ten months, we have built in stone and bricks a hospital for the Sangleyes, with a capacity of over 20 beds, wherein the non-Christian Sangleyes come for treatment. Up to now, from the many who have died, only one has died without baptism.

The Hospital of San Gabriel which could accommodate just over 20 beds was relatively small. Presumably, this was the beginning of the Hospital of San Gabriel. It is good to recall here again what happened earlier. Before the church was transferred to the eastern side of the Parian, where Benavides and Cobo were assigned in 1588, we have the little chapel and a nipa house built by Benavides and Maldonado, near the western part of the Parian, not far from Santo Domingo. There they had started to attend to the sick. It is here where we find the very beginnings of the Hospital of San Gabriel, initially called San Pedro Martir. It lost its name of San Pedro Martir in 1588, when the nipa house disappeared and a bigger and stronger one was built under the name of San Gabriel in the eastern part of the Parian. It kept the same name, San Gabriel, when in 1589, the new church and house were built in stone. The quotation of Cobo enables us to follow the process. Even our own historian, Diego Aduarte, confused many things in his Historia, and is not a very reliable witness in some respects.

Pedro Rodriguez who was assigned with Cobo to minister to the Chinese in the Parian in 1590, was a moving force behind the San Gabriel Hospital and its consolidation from this very year. He says like in a flashback:

"In the first place, when Fr. Miguel de Benavides, who later became archbishop of Manila and Fr. Juan Cobo, his companion, in charge of the ministry of the Chinese, transferred to a small nipa house, since they were near the Parian of the Chinese, and noticing that some of them were sick, in order to dispose them to receive the Holy Baptism, started to bring them to their house. And I heard Fr. Juan Cobo say: Now that Fray Miguel has gone to Spain, we can say the following: that they said Father, having in his room the sick, lay on the floor and placed the Chinese on his bed. Seeing that many people came to them the said Fathers tried to erect a small hospital. Fr. Leon, who died in Mariveles, and whose body was found intact after the disinterment eight months later after burial, donated some fifty pesos."

The ministry of the Dominicans among the Chinese grew constantly, as the missionaries advanced in the knowledge of the Chinese language. Again and again, their contemporaries, especially Governor Santiago de Vera (1583-1590) and the Bishop of Manila, Domingo de Salazar (1579-1594), were astonished at the improvement of the missionaries. People had come to believe that the Chinese language was impossible for the Europeans to learn, especially the writing of characters. But both Benavides and Cobo were scholars and theologians. They had come from the best universities in Europe. Their zeal for the salvation of souls, and their admiration for the achievements of the Chinese culture and civilization, pushed them to study seriously the language, until to a great degree, they became masters of it. Benavides is the best witness, as he refers to his ministry among the Chinese:

God was pleased to help with His hand these Fathers and favored them by learning the Chinese language. In a brief span of time, they were able to preach in Chinese, something most unexpected by all. The best witnesses were the Bishop and the President and the Oidores of that Audencia [Manila] and all the Spaniards around there. Not only did they preach in Chinese but the hand of God was so much over them so many Chinese embraced the Faith, so that soon after a church was built for them alone, where these Fathers I am referring to, who belong to the Order of Our Glorious Father Saint Dominic, engaged themselves, and are still engaged, in the conversion of these Chinese people; preaching to them, hearing their confessions and administering the other sacraments, teaching them in their own language, as we preach the Holy Gospel in Madrid in our own Spanish language. So great was God’s help that they had to build in another ‘town’ another church for the teaching of the doctrine and the administration of the sacraments to the same Chinese.


Benavides and Cobo not only advanced in the knowledge of that language, but brought into the picture more dynamism, more zeal, and more conversions of Chinese to the Faith. Cobo’s report/letter is a treasure of information. Readers and scholars in the past do not seem to have appreciated the depth of the information about that great encounter between the evangelized, the Sangleyes or Chinese merchants who came to Manila to trade and that, in the course of time, stayed behind and settled down here and the evangelizers, the Dominicans. A new world was being created. The Dominicans played a major role in the making and shaping of this new world.


The Dominicans and the Chinese: A Creative Encounter


Since Cobo’s report/letter of 1589 deals precisely with the very first encounter between the Chinese in the Philippines and the newly arrived Dominicans, let us dwell a little more in this ministry of the Dominicans among the Chinese.

After describing the foundation of the church of San Gabriel, Cobo says:

Rev. Fr. Miguel taught and preached to them in their own language. I [Fr. Cobo] did not know yet the language but the Lord was pleased that, in a short time, I was able to learn something. By the month of September [1588] we came to this place [San Gabriel Church in the Parian] and by Christmas I started to hear confessions of some Chinese Christians, Older in the Faith. Who knew something of the Spanish language. I did not dare to hear the confessions of the others. Later on, for Lent [1589], we started to hear the confessions of both men and women, in their own language. We heard the confessions of some who had been Christians for twelve years and had never confessed. God has helped us in everything.


He continues by saying that the Chinese had shown great love for the Order of St. Dominic and to the Fathers due to the catechetical instruction and preaching of Miguel de Benavides. By 1589, the year he wrote the Report, more than 120 had received baptism, many of them in danger of death. Many died edifying deaths. Already during Holy week, they had processions and had penitential disciplines with standards and images on Holy Thursday. It was the first time these things happened among them. Such a novelty caused wonder to many who before thought these things could never happen. It was the first procession among the Chinese and the first spilling of blood for God among them.

By 1589, the first and most important mission of the Dominicans among the Chinese was the Parian, where a hospital of solid materials had been built and a church, similarly of strong materials, was also being built.

Benavides and Cobo were busy in the ministry of the Chinese of the Parian, and in the new house built in Baybay, Our Lady of the Purification.


Development of San Gabriel Hospital


Domingo de Salazar, the Bishop of the Islands, recounts:

“In order to bring this topic to a conclusion, it is necessary to give your Majesty notice about a hospital built by the Friars of Santo Domingo, who are in- charge of the Chinese of the Parian, close to their house, where all the sick Sangleyes, without any income except the alms the Fathers look for, and those the Sangleyes give, have maintained and still maintain the said hospital.

The news about this hospital have spread out so much that it has stirred great love for the Fathers in the people in China, as they see the warm welcome the Fathers give to those who come to the Philippines from there. Around a year ago, a very important Chinese/Sangley embraced the Faith. He was a doctor and an arbolario. This man, leaving aside the affairs of this world, offered his services. In fact, he consecrated himself to the services of the hospital. He serves the sick with great love and charity and prescribes their purgation and medicines...”

By the time Cobo was writing his Letter/Report [1580] and the year Bishop Salazar penned his Relacion [1590], the Hospital of San Gabriel was already built in stone. It was a structure of truly solid materials.

In 1590, there were developments in the ministry of the Chinese that affected much the Dominican’s apostolate. Two men made their appearance now, one of whom was Domingo de Nieva.

Domingo de Nieva was a Dominican of great virtue, a man of high linguistic ability, one of the original Dominicans founders, who came to the Philippines in 1587. He was a very young man at the time. He was assigned to Bataan with the first group of Dominicans who were sent there in early 1588. Soon he became proficient in the language of the natives, Tagalog. Through the years he became a master of it.

The other man, who was bought into the ministry of the Chinese, especially into the Hospital of San Gabriel, was to do more than anyone else. He outlived the founders of San Gabriel by many years. Aduarte has this to say about him:

Rev. Fr. Cobo assigned to the Hospital of the Chinese [1590] Fray Pedro Rodriguez, a lay brother of the great charity. Since charity is the queen of all the virtues, it is always accompanied by all the other virtues, this charity is absolutely necessary to serve the sick. It was of great benefit to place the brother in that post. There he had everything he wanted to exercise himself in the love of God and of his neighbor, all to his great spiritual advantage and of great use to the house and the Hospital.

If he was not the founder, because he was not there at the beginning, he was the reason for its growth. He rebuilt it two or three times. That was necessary, since at the beginning, it was built in great poverty. Initially, it was not strong and thus not very lasting.

By the middle of 1590, just three years after the arrival of the Dominicans in July of 1587, there were four Dominicans engaged in the Chinese ministry, to wit: Juan Cobo, Pedro Rodriguez, Domingo de Nieva and Juan Maldonado de San Pedro Martir. This last one for the second time. Most probably, Cobo and Pedro Rodriguez lived in the Parian, the other two in Baybay.

Pedro Rodriguez gave new life and impetus to the Hospital of San Gabriel. In a long manuscript of 1684, penned by Peguero, O.P., we find the following reference:

Once this small hospital was built, since Fr. Miguel went to China, they brought me to the hospital in the company of Rev. Fr. Juan Cobo. We had the hospital filled with stick people; many were baptized when disposed for it. Later on, after some time, since more and more patients came to us, we decided to build a bigger hospital, because they could not be accommodated in the first one since it was very small.

Many things happened during the next two years that affected the ministry of the Chinese. In 1590, Benavides accompanied the Dominican provincial, Juan de Castro, to China. Mention has been made in the quotation above of Pedro Rodriguez. They were sent back to the Philippines very soon by the Chinese authorities. In June of 1591, Miguel De Benavides left the Philippines for Spain as companion of Bishop Domingo de Salazar. Benavides was to return to the Philippines only in 1598, as first Bishop of Nueva Segovia, in Northern Luzon. In June of 1592, Juan Cobo left Manila for Japan, as ambassador of the Philippines to the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The Spaniards of the Philippines and the Filipinos had received some time before the ambassador of the Shogun, demanding obedience and political recognition of Japanese sovereignty over the Philippines. The Spaniards were not disposed to accept that. They chose Cobo, by then a well-known sinoligist, and a man of high scholarship and character, as official ambassador to Japan. The Governor General, Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, also a man of character, requested the Dominican superiors to agree to his plan of sending Cobo as the ambassador. Meanwhile, the defenses of Manila had to be accelerated. Cobo did reach Japan and saw the Shogun. But, on his return trip to the Philippines, his boat was ship-wrecked in Taiwan, then called Formosa. People in Manila never came to know the result of the embassy. Cobo perished in the ship-wreck. Thus, the partnership of Juan Cobo and Juan Rodriguez was broken forever.

New people came into the ministry of the Chinese, among them Diego Aduarte, the first historian of the Dominican Order in the East and Francisco Blancas de San Jose, the “Father” of the Tagalog language. With the two of them, the Chinese ministry was strengthened. They were joined by Bartolome de Nieva and Gabriel Quiroz de Palacio. Due to advanced age, the last two were not able to learn the Chinese language. These religious did not find any more the hospital erected by the first ministers, Benavides and Cobo. A fire in the Parian reduced it to ashes. The religious erected a new one. It must have been very small because it could accommodate no more than six beds.

On June 15,1596, the Dominican held their Provincial Chapter. One of the points of the chapter, was their apostolate with the Chinese. In a long letter sent to the Spanish King by the definitors dated Manila, June 30, 1596, they mentioned the great fruit achieved by the Hospital of San Gabriel:

“What has produced great effect for the conversion of the Chinese here is a hospital, where the sick is treated and where many are baptized. We beg your Majesty to order the Governor to favor and protect it.”


But this building did not last long. Another fire in 1597 reduced the whole Parian to ashes. With it disappeared the hospital. The religious were compelled to begin again from nothing. They obtained permission and started to build in the Parian, but soon the city of Manila vehemently objected to build a hospital of solid materials near the walls of the City. They feared that in case of a revolt of the Chinese, the building might fall into their hands and put the city in great danger.
























UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery Sesquicentennial Anniversary Community Pantry

We live in uncharted times, with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging everyone equally with no seeming end in sight. For many Filipinos, the most immediate effect has been a distinct disruption to their food security, what with either unemployment or underemployment having been one of the most common side effects of the pandemic in a socioeconomic context.  In recent times, one shaft of light has beamed down on the darkness enveloping the Manila metropolitan area and warmed everyone’s hearts – and that shaft of light has been the rise of community pantries to fill the marginalized sector’s cupboards.

Taking inspiration from the food banks set- up in other countries by charitable institutions, where people can turn up and be provided a set amount of food, the first community started inauspiciously on April 14, 2021. Ana Patricia Non set- up a simple cart along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, laden with vegetables, rice, and other food items and labeled it the Maginhawa Community Pantry, along with the now famous principle, “Magbigay ayon sa kakayanan, kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan”. Word spread fast as people saw the original, and fanned by social media, multiple such pantries sprung up organically, not only in the NCR, but in other provinces, stretching as far as Zamboanga. Fueled by the generosity and empathy of fellow Filipinos, these pantries are filled with food, able to provide for the marginalized.

In the spirit of Bayanihan, the UST Faculty of Medicine is also organizing a one-day community pantry on May 29, 2021. This is part of the Sesquicentennial anniversary celebrations of FMS. With this, the Anargyroi: FMS Foundation, Inc.  encourages everyone to extend help and support.

In these uncertain times, AFI strives to stay true to its founding principles, to support the initiatives of FMS and encourage its alumni doctors to extend help, this time, to UST’s nearby communities.

Note: If you are interested to be part of this worthy endeavor, you may directly coordinate with the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.


Continuation of the Article of Fr. Lucio Gutierrez, O.P. (Part 2)

The Hospital of San Pedro Martir


There were many reasons for the foundation of the hospital that was to take care of the Chinese. The main one was the Domincans’ desire for the conversion of the Chinese to the Christian Faith. Many of these Sangleys, who flocked by the thousands to Manila, became sick. Dying in utter poverty and abandonment, they were forgotten by their fellow Chinese, who in their interest to do business and get rich, had no thought for their weak and poor fellow citizens. In China, institutions to take care of the widows, the poor, and the abandoned were unknown. The death of many Chinese in total abandonment and solitude, Aduarte says:

“compelled the religious to take pity upon them and gather the poorer ones in their small house and lay them in their own beds. Since they had no blankets, and they could not get any, the poor friars used their own copes to cover the sick. They considered a great gain, and a very big one, to change their copes of coarse frieze and sackcloth, and use them as a cover for charity. Charity indeed covers everything and honors a person more.”


Here then was set in motion the creation of what later on would become a hospital. It was small and poor; the food for the sick was brought from the Santo Domingo Convent. At times, the friars gave up their own food. This was possible while the patients were few; soon they grew in numbers and taking care of them became a problem.


Another reason for the establishment of the hospital was given by Pedro Rodriguez, O.P., a protagonist of the growth of San Gabriel Hospital in later years. He wrote:


“About the foundation of the hospital, we will state down here what the Lord Bishop Don Diego de Soria told me, together with Rev. Fr. Bernardo [de Santa Catalina], founders [of the Province]: that one of the reasons that the Order of Our Holy Father St. Dominic had to establish the said hospital, outside the main reason, which was the conversion of the Chinese, was the desire those Fathers had that in the convent of Santo Domingo, that was being established under strict observance that those who would live in it should never eat meat. Dispensation from this command, due to light reasons, opens the door to more freedom and relaxation. Thus, they desired that the sick people, and all other who might need to eat meat, would do so in the said hospital and not in the convent of Santo Domingo.


For this purpose, they established the hospital at the beginning in a piece of land, property of the convent, situated behind the garden of the convent. They started to bring the sick Chinese, catechized, and baptized them. From the convent they supplied the food. The friars helped with the alms from the masses and other alms they obtained from the people to buy lots for houses from where rent could be drawn, and so that the pious work started to shelter the native Chinese could be continued.


In that very place was the hospital placed for a certain time. First it was called Hospital de San Pedro Martir, and for some reasons, it was built later outside the wall of the city, close to the Parian of the Sangleys. In the time it was there, the Rev. Fr. Juan de Castro, the first provincial, and Rev. Fr. Francisco de la Mina died there. Much later, it was transferred to the other side of the river, in the place where it is now, the place the noble and devoted Knight Don Luis Perez Dasmariñas gave to the Sangleys as their dwelling place, to satisfy them for the abuse he might have committed against them when he transferred them there [Binondo].”


It follows from this Relacion that Miguel de Benavides and Juan Maldonado built a little house of nipa behind the wall of the Santo Domingo convent’s garden. It carried the name of San Pedro Martir, and there they brought the Chinese who were sick, catechized and baptized them. At that time, we cannot probably speak yet of any hospital in the real sense of the word. Out of pure love, Benavides and Maldonado brought to their own quarters the most seriously sick. We know from Juan Cobo, who a year later took charge of the Chinese ministry, together with Benavides, that the latter placed the sick on his bed, while he himself slept on the floor.


Juan Cobo’s Report of 1589


By September of 1588, just over a year after the arrival of the Dominicans to the Philippines, Juan Cobo and Miguel de Benavides had been expressly entrusted by the Order with the ministry of the Chinese in the Parian. On June 17, 1588, Bishop Salazar had officially entrusted the ministry of the Chinese to the Dominicans. They also were waiting for the permission to erect another house, for the service of the Chinese, at the right side of the river of Manila, already called Pasig, for in the initial reports, the river is referred to always as the river of Manila. The place was Baybay, for nearby lived thousands of Chinese, mainly fishermen and farmers.


We have mentioned for the first time the name of Juan Cobo. He sailed from Spain in July of 1586 together with the founders of the Province of the Holy Rosary, forty of them for Mexico. He remained there on official business. In 1588, he was in Manila. A year after his arrival, that is, in 1589, he wrote a long and most interesting Report/Letter where we can gather many relevant points about his ministry with the Chinese. He sent it back to Spain and was published in full by Renesal in his Historia. This Report/Letter, oftentimes referred to by historians and scholars, has not been studied in- depth. From it, we can knit together to a great precision, the initial history of the hospital for the Chinese.


Cobo writes:

“Later, during the second year [after the arrival of the Order] when I came [1588], the Order took apart Fr. Miguel and me to another distinct house, at the other side of the Parian. In such a way that between Santo Domingo and San Gabriel is found the Parian of the Sangleys. Here, a very poor church was built under the advocacy of San Gabriel, the name that fell to it by lot and a poor house where we two went to live in. We came into it at the beginning of September of the year 1588. This was the first church for the Chinese that was built. We believe that there is no other Parish Church today except this one. All the Chinese Christians, who were very few, both those who lived here in the Parian, and those who came from Tondo, a very wide river in between, came here. The Chinese started to frequent our Church and our house..”


Here, there is no mention of any hospital, or of a more serious care for the sick. We can see that the house mentioned by Cobo had been transferred to the eastern part of the Parian. The Parian now was between Santo Domingo convent and the small and poor church of San Gabriel built by Cobo and Benavides. The name of the Church and house was San Gabriel. The name San Gabriel fell, according to Cobo, by lot or luck.


Aduarte places the change of name of the hospital at the time of the transfer of the church, the house, and the hospital to the right side of the Pasig River, to Binondo; but this transfer happened in 1598. More will be said of this in the process of our study, thus no more mention of San Pedro Martir.


Benavides, who had already been in the ministry of the Chinese for a year, and Cobo, newly assigned now, had their hands full. According to Cobo, by Christmas of 1588:


“Thinking that it was too much effort for the Chinese Christians of Tondo to cross the river [to attend the Mass/religious services], they built another church for them, which is like a visita or ermita, where the Mass is celebrated. We divided ourselves, one to one side [of the river] and the other to the other side during feasts.”


We, thus see, that by the end of 1588, there were two churches built by the Dominicans to take care of the Sangleys. One was at the eastern side of the Parian, but very near it and the other in Baybay, near the ‘town’ of Tondo. There was just one house near the Parian and near the church where the two religious, Benavides and Cobo, lived. The church and house in the Parian was called San Gabriel, while the house in Baybay was dedicated to the Purification of Our Lady, in Spanish Purificacion de Nuestra Señora.