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?LUMINA Pandit,? the highly important international exhibit of rare books from the collection of the University of Santo Tomas, has been extended.

Organized by the UST Miguel de Benavides Central Library, the exhibit has been earning much acclaim since it opened last June.

Originally planned to close last Jan. 31, in time for the 400th anniversary of UST as Asia?s oldest university, the exhibit has been extended due to requests by schools from all over the country which have expressed the wish to tour the exhibit, says Fr. Angel Aparicio, OP, UST prefect of libraries.

The requests came after Pope Benedict XII declared 2011 as UST Jubilee Year. This means the Pope wants Filipinos to celebrate the 400th anniversary of UST for one year?from January 2011 to January 2012.

The declaration also means everyone who takes part in the UST Quadricentennial celebrations and visits the UST Santisimo Rosario Church will get an apostolic blessing and plenary indulgence from the Pope.

The library carries the name of the university founder, the Dominican friar Miguel de Benavides, the third archbishop of Manila. The library itself originated from the personal library of Archbishop Benavides, who, before his death in 1605, willed all his fortune, including his books, for the establishment of a school for priests. Today, the institution has come to be known as the University of Santo Tomas.

The library houses thousands of rare books, including incunabulae, or books printed before 1500. The oldest volume, ?La Guerra Judaica? by the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, was printed in 1492 in Seville and was dedicated to Queen Isabella of Spain.

In connection with UST?s fourth centenary, the UST Library is holding ?Lumina Pandit: An Exhibit of Historical Treasures? at the library lobby. (?Lumina Pandit? is Latin for ?spreading the light.?)

Cultural treasures

The international exhibit, curated by Marian Pastor-Roces, consolidates UST?s reputation as a repository of cultural treasures, highlighted by the declaration by the Philippine government of four landmarks in UST as National Cultural Treasures: UST Main Building; Arch of the Centuries; the building that houses the Ecclesiastical Faculties, Central Seminary, and the Fathers? Residence; and the UST Open Grounds, where three papal meetings were held.

?Lumina Pandit? is presented in Filipino, English and Spanish. It employs new media technology to enhance the viewing experience.

First book

On show, of course, is the first book in the Philippines, printed by the Dominicans in 1593, the Doctrina Christiana, a catechism in Spanish but which explores the native Filipino syllabary in some parts, proving that the missionaries did not wipe out the culture of the early Filipinos.

Also on exhibit is one of the first dictionaries in the country, the Arte de la Lengua of Fr. Francisco Blancas de San Jose, OP, as well as a similar Tagalog dictionary by the Franciscan Fr. Juan de Plasencia.

The Prince of Tagalog Printers and arguably the first Filipino author, Tomas Pinpin, a Bataeño, is represented by his famous book, Librong Pagaaralan nang Manga Tagalog nang Uicang Castila, the first printed book written in Tagalog and printed by a native.

Also on exhibit is the pride of the Benavides Library?the original 1543 edition of Nicolaus Copernicus?s ?On the Evolution of the Celestial Spheres,? which discusses the heliocentric theory of the universe.

Viewers will also not fail to miss the original copies of national hero Jose Rizal?s novels, ?Noli Me Tangere? and ?El Filibusterismo.?

Another book on display is Antonio de la Morga?s ?Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas,? which Rizal annotated.

UST also has a very rare copy of the famous Plantin Polyglot Bible, printed between 1569 and 1573 under the support of King Philip II of Spain.

Evolution of nation

The multimillion exhibit traces the evolution and development of Philippine civilization from pre-Hispanic times to the arrival of the Spaniards and the birth of the Philippine nation.

It opens with the arrival of the Order of Preachers in the Philippines (Dominicans) in the first section, titled ?Threshold 400.?

On display here are rare books and old important documents, such as the Act of Foundation of the University, the royal decree recognizing the Dominican institution; and the Papal Bull declaring UST a university in 1645.

?Realm of Print? is the second division, which highlights the country?s first printing press founded by the Dominican missionaries. To provide for an experience of this monumental marker in Philippine history, an exact replica of the first movable block printing press is shown.

Also on exhibit here is Pinpin?s famous book.

The third section, ?Spheres of Change,? features the scientific and intellectual currents that influenced the Filipinos in the first centuries of Spanish rule. Featured are very rare editions of the works of Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Aristotle, Strabo and the Dominican Thomas Aquinas.

The section presents key advancement in medicine, agriculture, architecture, engineering and theology, jurisprudence.

?Routes of Globalization,? the fourth section, charts the growth of the global village which started with the circumnavigation of the globe achieved by Ferdinand Magellan?s fleet. Featured on this part are navigational books and maps such as ?Relazione del primo Viaggio,? ?De Molucis Insulis,? ?Ataque de Limahon,? and ?Historia Mundi.?

?Nascent Nation? and ?Curve of Nationalism? focus on the rise of the Filipino nation, and how the Dominican activists of older centuries (Francisco Vitoria, the Father of International Law and Human Rights; Bartolome de las Casas, the Apostle of the Indies) gave rise to today?s dominant paradigm on human rights and democracy.

Included in the last section are the academic records of the founders of the Philippine nation?of Rizal, Apolinario Mabina, Emilio Jacinto, and other patriots and national heroes.

The exhibit is more than a trip down memory lane. It is a voyage to the Filipino soul.

Call UST Library at 731-3034.