The 2019 Paskuhan festivities of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) centers on the theme “For Unto Us, a Child is Born.” This annual event commenced on December 2 at the Plaza Mayor.
The UST community has always anticipated the University’s annual Paskuhan celebration, which customarily begins with a Eucharistic celebration and the ceremony of Lighting the Campus.
UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., served as homilist in the Eucharistic Celebration, which was concelebrated with the Dominican priests.
In his homily, Father Dagohoy reminded the community that in the Advent Season, “We are called to the kind of faith that rejoices because the birth of Jesus is the surest sign of God’s grace and love for us.“
The traditional lighting ceremony for this year was graced with the presence of City of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and UST alumna Manila Vice Mayor Maria Shielah “Honey Lacuna”-Pangan, M.D.
Mayor Domagoso signaled the beginning of the lighting of the campus when he declared, “Let the lighting ceremony of the 2019 Paskuhan begin!” The statement, met with thunderous applause from the audience, showed a campus lit in the traditional colors of red, yellow and green, while some decorations shone brightly in white, purple and blue. The brightness came from approximately two million energy-saving lights and a 70-foot tall Christmas tree. In a video clip posted by the Manila Public Information Office on its social networking pages, Mayor Domagoso thanked the University of Santo Tomas and expressed his hopes for continued partnerships with the city government for a more vibrant Manila.
Complementing the multi-colored lights in campus is an exhibition featuring almost 150 Belen held at the UST Museum and Main Building lobby, from the vast collection of Belen by Rev. Fr. Genaro Diwa. Organized by UST Museum Director Rev. Fr. Isidro D. Abaňo, O.P., the Belen exhibition is a great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the context of sharing, the UST SIMBAHAYAN Community Development Office and Office for Student Affairs identified the needs of partner communities in one of the mission areas of the Dominican Order. The academic units responded generously to the call for giving through the Tulong Tomasino gift boxes. In turn, the University provided the traditional community meal, or agape to the members of the Thomasian community, according to the Chair of the Central Committee on University Events and UST Secretary General Rev. Fr. Jesús M. Miranda, Jr. O.P.
An added attraction for this year was a drone show that wowed the audience with two sets of aerial shows, one with 50 and the other set with 180 drones. Various figures such as spinning Christmas tree, reindeer, bells, and other figures were formed to the delight of the audience. It culminated the opening night of the Paskuhan. The fireworks display came at the onset of the campus lighting illuminating the Main Building in dazzling colors and design.
The lighting ceremony was accompanied by musical numbers from the UST Conservatory of Music.
Another highly awaited Paskuhan event was the UST Christmas Concert that was held on December 5, 2019 (Preview Night) and December 6, 2019 (Community Night), at the Santísimo Rosario Parish Church (UST Chapel). Performers from the UST Conservatory of Music were Elisanta Cortes, Nenen Espina, Thea Perez, Naomi Paz Sison, Praise Ashonibare, Chelsy Franchette Rosell, Katrine Jamar Sunga, Abdul Candao, Eugene De Los Santos, Ronan Ferrer, Randy Gilongo, Lourdes Gregorio, Victor Victorino. They sang songs in line with the theme “Christmas Around the World.”
Included in the line-up was “Esta Noche,” sung by Nenen Espina with Lourdes Gregorio on the harp, and “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from George Handel’s “Messiah, The Oratorio” performed by Coro Tomasino, Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble, and the UST Conservatory of Music Choir. The singers were accompanied by the UST Symphony Orchestra, under the batons of Assoc. Prof. Herminigildo Ranera, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Renato Lucas, Ph.D., and Mr. Reynato Ressureccion, Jr.
The choirs of the partner community, the Aeta Community Children’s Choir (ACCC) and Parents Advocate for Visually Impaired Children’s (PAVIC) Choir also performed. They sang “Adeste Fideles” with soprano Thea Perez and Victor Victorino on the pipe organ.
UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Dagohoy, who delivered the Welcome Remarks, said “The annual UST Christmas Concert is a way for us Thomasians to express through music our thanksgiving for the countless blessings God has bestowed upon this University throughout the years.”
The concert was attended by alumni and friends of the University that included those from the diplomatic corps, academe, and industry.
The Paskuhan festivities reached its peak on December 20, 2019, with well-known bands including Ben & Ben, Munimuni, and Magnus Haven, performing at the UST Grandstand, and the Paskuhan Fair happening in campus. The much-anticipated pyromusical display illuminated the UST skyline at 9:10 p.m., as the finale of the traditional Paskuhan celebrations for this year.