It’s been over half a year now since the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc all around the world, gravely affecting industries and primary sectors like public and private offices, hospitals, places of worship, and even schools.

Things seem to be getting worse in the Philippines, with over 194,000 cases recorded as of this article. With academic institutions closed down as a safety precaution, faculties and students have resorted to online classes via teleconferencing programs like Zoom and Skype.

Around this time of the year, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) would have started announcing schedules for its annual campus tour targeted towards freshmen students across all programs. With the dangers of physically going outside, UST thought up of a solution to continue their yearly tradition — a virtual tour inside Mojang Studios’ best-selling sandbox game Minecraft.

From España, Lacson, Dapitan, and P. Noval, all four corners of UST have been recreated inside the game. It’s like someone copy-pasted UST and decided to simply upload it on Minecraft! The details are really impressive, even capturing the iconic UST Main Building (often mistaken by outsiders as a church) in 3D blocks.

Credit: University of Santo Tomas

I actually attended UST, so I was surprised by this modern move since it has always been known for its conservative views as a Catholic University. We never even had a student organization solely focused on video games (I would say the closest would be cultural orgs like Thomasian Nihon Kyoukai or digital media org TomasinoWeb) so this decision by the University is something fresh to all alumnus and something thrilling for the new generation of Thomasians.

Credit: University of Santo Tomas

It’s been a while since I last visited UST, so watching the 40-second trailer made me reminisce my college days four years ago — looking for a new place to eat but ending up at our go-to dimsum place with this banger chilli sauce, abruptly stopping to pay respects to the twelve o’ clock prayer Angelus, studying alone for a big test in the middle of Lover’s Lane surrounded by couples, and attending the annual Christmas celebration Paskuhan with my friends and orgmates.

As an alumni of UST, I am actually proud and pleased to see my alma mater adapting to our current situation by giving upcoming students a new experience to look forward to.

Compared to our freshmen tour which consisted of hours touring the University led by our upperclassmen, this Minecraft campus tour sounds like the perfect online activity to welcome students.

Another tradition that UST upholds is the Thomasian Welcome Walk, where students pass through the Arch of the Centuries as a part of their initiation rites. Rumor has it that whoever tries to pass the Arch before their actual graduation will not be able to graduate and finish their studies inside the university.

Credit: University of Santo Tomas

With this National Cultural Treasure recreated inside Minecraft, will we witness students in their three-dimensional form go over it for the first time?

UST’s Minecraft Campus Tour will commence this Friday, August 28 geared towards incoming first year college students. Here’s a quick overview of the 400-year old campus reproduced inside the 3D video game.

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