It has been publicized, reported on and talked about numerous times in the past few years. But despite assurances that it will indeed happen, Generals have been thinking that the wait for the long-promised GenSan campus of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines – or just the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for short – is taking much too long. Delays have long plagued the planned construction schedule to the point that locals almost tend to forget that the deal is even happening. This week however, the project has suddenly shown signs of life.
Minda News reports that after a lull of uncertainty, officials from the main campus of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila are kicking off the initial land development phase of finally constructing their expansion campus here in GenSan. Fr. Dexter Austria from the UST Office of the Vice Rector for Finance led other university officials in a series of consultations and public hearings with regards to initiating prep work for the development of the campus area, planned to cover a total of 79.93 hectares in an area connecting Barangays Ligaya and Katangawan.
According to Fr. Austria, the consultations are needed to get approval for the selected location of the campus, as well as to begin developing road networks to connect the campus site to the main highway and build drainage canals for its sewage system. These first concrete steps to pave the way for building construction will be handled by a collaboration of the UST’s own team of geodetic engineers, as well as those from DCCD Engineering Corp., the university’s contracted firm for the GenSan campus.
Signs look to there being little to no problems with this phase, as residents and local officials from the two Barangays of Katangawan and Ligaya have expressed their approval for construction to go ahead, according to a statement from the City Public Information Office. One of these supporters, Brgy. Ligaya chairman Romy Pagaduan, has expressed his constituents’ hope that the future operation of the UST GenSan expansion campus in their community will help them immensely in developing Ligaya into a new urbanized area of the city.
The history of UST planning an expansion campus in GenSan is a long and sometimes frustrating one. The university acquired the proposed site, originally classified agricultural land, way back in 1997 for P96 million, but land classification troubles with the Department of Agrarian Reform kept putting off the start of actual construction work. Mayor Ronnel Rivera is one of the major endorsers of the UST GenSan development. This would be the university’s first campus in Mindanao, which already has an offshoot in Cagayan de Oro’s Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan.
Photo courtesy of gensantos.com