University of San Agustin

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University of San Agustin
Pamantasan ng San Agustin
Latin: Universitas Sancti Agustini
Former names
Colegio de San Agustin de Iloilo (1904–1953)
Motto Virtus et Scientia (Latin)
Motto in English
Virtue and Science
Established 15 July 1904
Type Private, Research University, Coeducational
Affiliation Augustinian (Roman Catholic)
President Frederick C. Comendador, OSA
Administrative staff
Approximately 500
Undergraduates Approximately 8,000+
Postgraduates Approximately 200+
Location Iloilo City, Iloilo, Philippines
  • Main Campus
    8.9 hectares (Tertiary)
  • Sambag (Jaro) Campus (Basic Education)
Colors Red for courage, gold for victory over evil
Nickname Augustinian, Agustinian or Agustino
Mascot Golden Eagle

The University of San Agustin (commonly referred to as San Agustin, San Ag, or USA) is a private Catholic university in Iloilo City, Philippines. With 40 initial students, it was established in 1904 as a preparatory school for boys by the Spanish Catholic missionaries under the oldest religious Roman Catholic order in the Philippines during the American colonial period, the Order of Saint Augustine (San Agustin). In 1917, it was incorporated and became Colegio de San Agustin de Iloilo. In March 1953, San Agustin attained university status making it the first university in Western Visayas.[1] San Agustin is the first and only Augustinian university in the Asia-Pacific region.

University of San Agustin now provides programs from Basic Education up to post graduate studies in the areas of Business, Education, Computer Studies, Arts and Sciences, Performing Arts, Music, Engineering, Medical Technology, Nursing and Pharmacy.[2] In 2013, the university celebrated its 60th year as an institution of higher learning.[3]



The original Urdaneta Hall, built in 1939 and named after Andrés de Urdaneta, one of the first Catholic missionaries who came to the Philippines, is the oldest Spanish structure in San Agustin.

Augustinian friars from Spain belonging to the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines founded the University of San Agustin on 15 July 1904. They were assisted by their American confreres from the Augustinian U.S. Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. The Spanish Augustinians were the first Christian missionaries of any religious order to enter the Philippines and begin its conversion to Catholicism.

The university began as a preparatory school for boys during the American colonial period. It was granted government recognition on 12 December 1912 for its various course offerings. On 5 February 1917, it was formally incorporated under the name Colegio de San Agustín de Iloilo. In 1928, one of the country's oldest campus publications, The Augustinian Mirror, was established, producing some of the country's well-known writers. The 1930s saw rapid growth with the opening of three colleges in quick succession: College of Liberal Arts in 1935, College of Commerce in 1936 and College of Law in 1937. On the eve of the Second World War, the college admitted female students for the first time in 1940.

During the Second World War (1941–45), the college was temporarily shuttered as the Philippines fought a guerilla war against the Japanese. The war led to the destruction of all the buildings, except for Urdaneta Hall, which at present houses the university theatre and the College of Pharmacy and Medical Technology. With almost the entire college in ruins, some friars advocated closing the school altogether while others pushed for its immediate rehabilitation. It was eventually reopened in 1945, followed by a decade of expansion that ushered in both the College of Pharmacy and the College of Technology (1945), the Normal (Teacher's) College (1947), the Graduate School (1950), and the College of Dentistry (1953). The school was granted university status on 1 March 1953, a year before its 50th anniversary, making it the first university in Western Visayas.

The following year, the Rev. Angel Dulanto, OSA arrived from Spain after completing his studies at Villanova University, an American sister school of San Agustin. As an impresario, he introduced the yearly velada, characterized by a weeklong festivity of artistic, religious, and cultural events. A zarzuela, staged by both professors and students, is the centerpiece of University Week from 14–20 February.

In 1965, the Rev. Nicanor Lana, OSA became rector of the university. His term was marked by vast improvements in the school's infrastructure. The same year he started his term as rector, he inaugurated DySA, the official radio station of the university, to help expand the reach of the university through mass media. The University of San Agustín Press, known today as Libro Agustino, came a year later. In the months leading to the centenary of San Agustín in 2004, it began publishing book titles by Augustinian authors, with an eye at producing a total of 100 different volumes over several years.

Poor enrollment forced the administrators to phase out the College of Dentistry in 1967. But a flowering of cultural and artistic activities on campus led to the founding of the famous Kawilihan-USA Dance Troupe, the USA Troubadours, and the Conservatory of Music. The Rev. Santiago Ezcurra, OSA, a Spanish musician who studied music in Rome, was formally installed as its first dean. In 1969 the USA Clinical Laboratory was opened, followed a few years later by the introduction of the College of Nursing in 1974. In 2010, the university announced the establishment of a new extension campus in Mati, Davao Oriental, Philippines.

1984 to present[edit]

The university maintains a Level III accreditation status granted by the PAASCU and is one of the two schools in the region having an autonomous status granted by CHED. The university's campus, situated in the very heart of the city on General Luna Street, has a modern gymnasium, an auditorium, various conferences and seminar rooms, science, computer and speech laboratories, a museum, a bookstore, a library, an instructional media center, and tennis and badminton courts.

In 1984 the all-Filipino Augustinian Province of Santo Niño of Cebu was formed, separating from the mother Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines based in Madrid, and ownership of the university was handed over to the latest circumscription of the Augustinian Order. A succession of rectors was appointed, including Bernardino Ricafrente, Eusebio Berdon, Mamerto Alfeche, and Rodolfo Arreza. During Arreza's term, he pursued linkages with various universities abroad and focused on research development.

San Agustín promotes literature in the region through the Fray Luis de Léon Creative Writing Institute, sponsor of the annual national writers workshop of the same name. The workshop awards a number of writing fellowships to writers in English, Hiligaynon, and other Philippine languages. Its official student publication, The Augustinian Mirror, has won various journalism awards and has produced some of the Philippines' highly respected literary minds, notably Augustinian poet Gilbert Luis R. Centina III, OSA.

Recent developments in the university include the establishment of various research and communication centers, namely:

Over the years, school enrollment has increased, resulting in the decision to move the high school department to a new campus in the suburbs of Sambag, Jaro in June 1995.

Cultures and traditions[edit]

Patron Saint[edit]

St. Augustine of Hippo as pictured during the Renaissance

The university is named in honor of fourth century saint Augustine of Hippo, a key figure in the doctrinal development of Western Christianity and a Doctor of the Church. Two of his surviving works, "The Confessions" (his autobiography) and "The City of God," are regarded as Western classics. Augustine is often considered to be one of the theological fountainheads of the Reformation because of his teaching on salvation and grace. Martin Luther, perhaps the greatest figure of the Reformation, was himself an Augustinian friar.

Other English speaking Augustinian Schools with the same patron saint include Colegio San Agustin-Makati, Colegio Sto. Niño-Cebu, Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod, Colegio San Agustin-Biñan, St. Augustine's College, Brookvale in Sydney, Australia, St. Augustine College Preparatory School, Richland, New Jersey; St. Augustine High School, San Diego, California; and Austin Preparatory School in Reading, Massachusetts – all three in the United States; and St Augustine College in Malta.

University seal[edit]

Symbols and meanings in the University of San Agustin's seal:

  • The Golden Eagle represents the lofty intellect of St. Augustine as the soaring "Eagle of Hippo."
  • The Heart symbolizes love and charity—the first rule of St. Augustine.
  • The Crosier and the Mitre represent the bishopric of St. Augustine.
  • The Book stands for the attributes lavished on St. Augustine as a profound and prolific writer and the greatest Doctor of the Church.
  • Tolle Lege, Tolle Lege (Take up and read) were the words heard from the void by St. Augustine, leading to his conversion to Catholicism in Milan in 387.
  • Colors: Red stands for courage and gold for victory over evil in this world.
  • Virtus et Scientia (Virtue and Science) is the traditional motto of the Augustinians, representing the two pillars of the Augustinian way of education.
  • University of San Agustin. These words are emblazoned in the seal to signify that the school is an institution of learning dedicated to the education of the youth in the Augustinian tradition.


The Augustinian Mirror[edit]

The Augustinian Mirror is the official student magazine of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, Philippines. It was also adopted as the official name of the student publication of the elementary department of Colegio San Agustin-Makati (founded 1969), a sister school of the University of San Agustin in the nation's metropolitan capital region.

It is published twice a year (once every semester) by the USA Publications. Founded in 1928, it is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious campus magazines. Among its chief goals are to nurture young literary minds and social achievers in the fields of literature, journalism, philosophy, theology, law and governance. The plan to establish a school publication was initiated in 1927. Although it was officially founded in 1928, the maiden issue first came out in 1929. It started as a news-oriented tabloid that covered annual events and activities of the university in English and Spanish. Being one of the earliest post-colonial Catholic publications in the Philippines, it was exhibited in the exposition of the Catholic Press at the Vatican in 1936. During World War II, it ceased operation as school authorities decided to close the university at a time of great uncertainty.

The post-war volume of 1945 saw the gradual change to its present format as a news magazine complemented with works of fiction, column writing and poetry in four subdivided sections: English, Filipino, Hiligaynon and Spanish. In 1946, the publication gained its first female editor. A complementary newspaper, The Augustinian, was established in 1956 focusing on news events in the university. It became a vehicle for students and faculty members to express their opinions on campus and socio-political issues. In 2006, a literary journal, Irong-Irong, was launched as a student medium for creative writing.

Over the years, The Augustinian Mirror has evolved into a theme-oriented publication. It has won countless awards and distinctions for excellence in news writing, human rights, tourism and travel in the past decades. It is a three-time recipient of the Gawad Lopez Jaena Award for "excellence in campus journalism," the highest distinction given by the government-run Philippine Information Agency (PIA). It has also won nine times the distinction of being adjudged the "best college magazine" in Western Visayas by COPRE (College Press Conference) and has been cited by the National Collegiate Press as one of the three best campus magazines of the Philippines in the 1970s. It has produced outstanding writers who later went on to become recipients of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. After numerous journalism awards for nineteen consecutive years, it was granted in 2006 the right to hand out its own awards known as the SanAg Campus Press Awards.

Notable alumni[edit]

Former Philippine Secretary of Justice, Raul Gonzalez Sr..
Television presenter, singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jed Madela.

People who are alumni, professors, and others associated with the University are called as Augustinians, Agustinians or Agustino. Notable alumni of the university include:


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 10°55′11″N 122°36′27″E / 10.91962°N 122.60742°E / 10.91962; 122.60742