The pen writes in gold: Purple Gazette at 50

“It is the magic of words that cements the union between science and art; that adds to the frigid rays of scientific knowledge, the color and feeling of artistic expression.” (Andia, 1967)

Purple Gazette (PG), the official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Pharmacy, including Biochemistry and Medical Technology, celebrates its golden anniversary exactly today – 22 April 2017. For fifty glorious years, PG has fulfilled its mission to be the heralds of truth and knowledge to the teaching and student body of the Faculty and the University. Needless to say, I am happy and proud to have become a member of the publication team. Being part of the PG family was probably one of the best things that happened to me in college.

Reliving their times

“A vision, only briefly realized by the advent of the Alma Mater in 1921, is now reborn in our generation, revitalized by the vigor and enthusiasm of the present and strengthened by lofty expectations of the future.” (Andia, 1967)

The second half of the 1960’s was the Journal Fever. Almost all colleges in the Pontificia et Regalis Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Universitas Manilana, except the Facultad de Farmacia, had their own journals. To cope up with the trend, then Pharmacy Dean Rev. Fr. Lorenzo Rodriguez, OP gave birth to the Purple Gazette – its namesake, the official motif of the Faculty – on 22 April 1967. The first issue was released on September that year, with Ana Maria Andia as the pioneer chief editor. The initial logo used, designed by Ramon Delloza, featured the symbols of all three departments under the Faculty, each inside a circle in its respective color (purple for Pharmacy, yellow for Medical Technology, and green for Biochemistry). The icons were unified inside a purple triangle.

The first, official seal of PG as seen on the cover of its pioneer issue. Photo taken from PG’s Facebook page.

For years, PG continued to publish two types of publication: a main journal for scientific articles, and a newsletter for news, features and literary write-ups.

During the Martial Law era, the freedom of the press was greatly crippled. However, then chief editor of PG was not to be stopped. She wrote subversive articles criticizing former President-Dictator Ferdinand Marcos to win the sympathy of the people. She also renamed Purple Gazette into ADVENTURE. Then administrators of the Faculty warned her against publishing such write-ups, but she insisted even though the publication fund was not released. In the end, ADVENTURE only came out once. Her entire team was immediately sanctioned, and no trace of them nor the ADVENTURE can be found now. Hence, The Flame’s claim that it was the only journal in the University to have gone against Marcos is not exactly true. [The Flame is the official student publication of the Faculty of Arts and Letters]

As an economic crisis hit the 1980s, PG switched to printing only one type of journal every semester. News and features articles were also focused on socio-economic and political issues that were rampant during that period.

In the 1990s, a new seal of the publication was revealed. Its elements include a dove, with a stem of laurel leaves on its left, and a scroll bearing the inscription PG on its right. This is probably in reference to PG’s mission as heralds. The design was modified a number of times through the years, but the three main elements were never removed.

The current official seal, carrying the three main elements of the 1990’s logo. Photo taken from PG‘s Facebook page.

Later on, PG returned to publishing two sections: a journal for technical articles, and a newsletter or COMPANION for non-technical ones. Write-ups were centered on issues and events within the Faculty. Non-publication activities, such as writing contests and medical missions, were also conducted by the team. PG even paved the way for the founding of the Theatre Catalyst.

In 1998, PG, with Mary Grace Chan as chief editor, released its 30th anniversary issue. It included congratulatory messages from notable persons, namely then President Fidel Ramos, Vice-President Joseph Estrada, Senate President Ernesto Maceda, University Rector Rev. Fr. Rolando dela Rosa, OP, and Pharmacy Dean Norma Lerma. Benjamin Talon, Associate Editor of that time, wrote “Three Decades of Purple Gazette”, which is my source material for the above retelling of PG’s history.

Four years later, the very first issue of Papyrus was distributed. This was conceptualized by then chief editor Bernardo Sanedrin to become the official compilation of thesis abstracts from the Faculty’s students and instructors. The title was chosen as it refers the scroll where the works of ancient people were inscribed. He also coined the line “Believe in the power of the pen!” as part of his recruitment efforts. This became one of PG’s iconic catchphrases during my time.

Revisiting my time

I became part of the PG family in 2011 during my freshman year in the University. I can still remember the Pharmacy Recruitment Fair that time. Booths from the various student organizations occupied the second level hallway of the Main Building. All of them were decorated to catch the students’ attention. However, there on a corner was a plain white board with a scrap of paper taped on it. Written on the paper was Purple Gazette. On the table in front of it was a stack of Papyrus prints, and another of PG application forms. I grabbed one from both, and went on my way.

Days later, I found myself sitting inside the Consultation Room, and taking the PG Qualifying Examinations. I was applying for a slot in the Features Team. I can hardly remember the topics that I was asked to write about, but I guess there was one about the University’s landmarks and heritage sites. Nevertheless, I passed that exam and became a Features Writer.

The first article I made for PG was “Pharma-mazing: 140 at 400”. I wrote it together with my bloc-mate and fellow Features writer, Stephanie Bernadette Ellao. It was a narration of the brief history of my Faculty, and was published in the latter part of 2011. Never did I know that that issue was the first printed one after a two-year hiatus. Indeed, the pen has just begun to rise.

My very first article for PG, published in the year 2011.

Before the end of my first year, I planned to apply for The Varsitarian, the official student publication of the University. I submitted all the requirements, but I did not show up for the qualifying examinations. I felt that joining the Varsitarian was an act of betrayal against PG.

Luckily for me, my decision to boycott the Varsitarian qualifying exams was a good one. I was promoted as Features Editor for my second year. How about that?

“It is a possibility that in the near future, Purple Gazette will have its own homepage in the web…” (Purple Gazette Vol. 30, No. 2, 1996-1997)

2012 was the beginning of a digital era for PG. With the green light from my chief editor, Anthea Maree Dijamco, and the rest of the Editorial Board, I launched our website, as well as a YouTube channel and a new Facebook page, in order to widen our reach to the student body. Sadly, the website is now down.

On October that year, I was granted the privilege to have a one-on-one interview with Pharmacy alumna and Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Janine Mari Tugonon. It was one of my most treasured moments in college. I would never forget how we shared a sundae with one spoon inside Jollibee Lacson-Dapitan.

Yours truly with 2012 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe, Janine Tugonon. Photo by Anthea Dijamco.

PG also inaugurated its pioneer coverage of the 2012 Pharmacy Week. My fellow PG members Maolenn Karlo Lavadia and Nicole Melanie Molera made a same-day edit video of the Fiesta Pharmacia parade, with 3D openers and closers by me. The video was shown later that evening in the Pharmacy Variety Show.

We also launched Pharma Vote ’13, a special coverage of the Faculty of Pharmacy Student Council (FPSC) Elections. For that, we interviewed then FPSC President-Elect Prince-Jerome Biscarra, and the University’s Central Student Council Secretary-Elect and Pharmacy student Ina Vergara.

In 2013, I had become Atlas, carrying the entire weight of Purple Gazette – I was appointed as chief editor by my predecessor and her board. It was no easy task, but I rose up to the challenge.

At the opening of that academic year, the initial broadcast of Rated PG: Special Report was uploaded to our YouTube channel. The team who made the first episode possible included Christopher Marin and Kevin Lubao as reporters, Ivan Besana as writer, Patrick Juacalla as report editor, Rocelle Callao as cinematographer, and Nicole Molera as 3D billboards artist. I provided the rest of the broadcast graphics, and also made the linear edit of the video.

We were then tapped by FPSC for the 2013 Mr. & Ms. Pharmacy. Nicole Molera created the 3D animated logo of the event, as well as some promotional videos. However, to our dismay, no credit was given to her or to us. I also got into some sort of trouble with FPSC due to the pageant. I would not elaborate any further, but our experiences with FPSC were traumatizing for us.

In 2014, our coverage of the FPSC Election became stronger with our close cooperation with the Pharmacy Commission on Election. We produced Pharma Vote 2014: The Forum – a series of video interviews of the running candidates, with me and Stephanie Ellao as hosts. The crew was also composed by Maolenn Lavadia as director of cinematography, and Aleja Dungca as cinematographer. I provided the broadcast graphics for the videos.

As I entered into my final year in the University, I decided to lie low from PG. I stepped down, and handed over the baton to Stephanie Ellao and Timothy Bautista. This was probably one of my greatest regrets in college. I felt as if I failed Purple Gazette. I was unable to publish any PG issue during my term as chief editor, and I left the new team to handle the publishing of a new Papyrus issue.


I was supposed to have lunch with my PG batch-mates today. Due to conflicting schedules however, we were unable to push through with our plan. Nonetheless, I do believe that we will still have our reunion some other time.

My stay with the Purple Gazette family was a wonderful ride. It was one of the few things that motivated me in my studies. It was an outlet for stress relief from the gargantuan load of my Medical Technology academic life. I am very grateful for being given the chance to serve the Faculty through PG. Thanks to my seniors, Anthea Maree Dijamco, Nina Janelle Young, Elyn Christia David, Tricia Cabural and Belina Tenorio, for believing in me. Thank you as well to my batch-mates, especially to Aleja Grace Dungca, Gianpaolo Alzaga, Joanna Marie Carranceja, Kevin John Lunao, Nicole Melanie Molera, Stephanie Bernadette Ellao and Timothy John Bautista, for supporting me in all of my endeavors.

As Purple Gazette reaches another milestone today, I extend my warmest felicitations to the current Editorial Board and Staff, most especially to Charisse Misola, and to the Advisers, as well as to the Faculty’s Administrators. May Purple Gazette continue to rise and shine in its mission of heralding truth and knowledge to the Faculty and the University. You have all my regards. May you also be guided by these words written by a former Pharmacy Dean for our 40th anniversary issue:

“Let this serve as an inspiration for a better and brighter Purple Gazette in the coming issues, especially when it celebrates its 100th year, which by that time, we are confident that the Purple Gazette will be standing strong and truly a force to reckon with.” (Torres, 2008)

Kudos, and happy 50th birthday, Purple Gazette!



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