Santo Tomas Internment Camp
The University of Santo Tomas, founded in 1611 and owned by Spanish Dominican priests, was the oldest university under the American flag in 1940, but this Main Building was completed in 1927. Fr. Roque Ruano, OP, the building's architect and engineer, sought a quake-proof building and flew to Japan to investigate new building techniques in the wake of Japan's major 1923 quake. The building consists of forty separate small towers on a continuous slab foundation and ample rebar. The iron cross tower was the tallest landmark in Manila. "The Big House," as internees called it, withstood both quakes and much of the Japanese shelling in 1945. Built as a classroom and administration building, it was converted into dormitories for prisoners. The larger campus (including an Education Building, Gymnasium, Annex and more) imprisoned more than 4000 Allied civilians beginning in 1942. Overcrowding, disease, and starvation became a way of life.