University Officials Integration: “A Week of Spice”

University Officials Integration: “A Week of Spice”

Written by: Hazel M. Bermundo

Photos: Mark Castillo


“The spice of life is something that makes it feel worth living” – Unknown. Five days of bond, fun, and bliss. Three days in a foreign land. A memory worth remembering.

Escaping from the bland routine of digital and administrative tasks, forty-two (42) University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi (UST-Legazpi) Dominican and Lay Administrators and Supervisors flew across the sky last June 20-22, 2023 to spice up their week with high expectations in the Land of the Free and Land of Smiles — Thailand. A University Officials Integration, a much-needed break, away from work and deadlines, is part of the university’s celebration of its 75th Founding Anniversary.

To strengthen bonds within a large delegation, the group was broken down into clusters, and buddy systems were established to facilitate communication and tracking. The university officials stayed at Baiyoke Suite Hotel, Bangkok which was once regarded as the tallest building in Thailand, but is now hailed as second, resulting from the emergence of the King Power Mahanakhon. For three days in the hotel, the participants indulged themselves in culinary experiences coupled with breathtaking views. The area was also densely packed with retail malls and mouth-watering street delicacies.

During the first official day of the vacation trip, most of the participants headed to the Grand Palace where they were able to see an incredible display of Thai Culture. Others went their separate ways to explore Bangkok. At 4 p.m., the team gathered at Iconsiam Mall where the port for the dinner cruise is stationed. During the cruise, the spectators were entertained by the Filipino representatives, particularly the UST-Legazpi squad, as the Filipinos’ playful side came out in the foreign land. The evening was embraced by a dinner loaded with food, music, and entertainment.

The benchmarking tour to the Assumption University (AU) of Thailand the next day was one of the trip’s noteworthy ones. A stunning view of and from the façade caught the gazes of the officials as soon as they entered AU. Officials from Assumption University welcomed them with open arms and genuine smiles. Despite the scorching heat, a short tour was made possible to see the entirety of this world-class museum university. From the Cathedral of Learning Building to the Pavilion, the Sports Building to the Chapel, every detail was splendid architecture with superb representations of Catholicism and the nation’s culture.

Other idle moments were left for the participants to enjoy through shopping, eating, conversing with locals, and strolling around the vicinity.

One remarkable thing is that Thais appreciate spicy food like Bicolanos, to the point where the remark “not spicy” still implies the presence of spice. In contrast to Bicolanos, Thais particularly like spicy food especially in their desserts. For both Thai and Bicolanos, the love for spicy food goes beyond mere preference — it is deeply rooted in their culinary heritage, cultural identity, and even for personal enjoyment. It reflects their passion for bold flavors and their ability to appreciate the thrill that comes with embracing the fiery side. That’s why we can say that Thais and Bicolanos are similar in some ways — the smiles, the spice, and the being.

The spice gives a strong flavor so inviting to the tongue, indulging one to eat more. Just as spices enhance flavors in a meal, this one spice in our lives that came in the form of the University Officials’ Integration, added depth in collegial relationships and excitement through unexpected encounters with each other. Playfulness, cracking of jokes, bloopers, and moments of pure joy surely left an indelible mark on everyone’s hearts. 

The university believes that for holistic development, wellness is a must. The recently concluded integration truly was a success as it aimed to cultivate, add a little spice, and give meaning and purpose to the university officials’ lives. 

Copyright 2019. University of Santo Tomas - Legazpi