The University of Santo Tomas tradition of holding a community celebration of Christmas called Paskuhan culminated on December 17, 2021, Friday, with the anticipated Christmas concert, festivities in its virtual Minecraft campus, and charity e-games.
To bring the festive Christmas spirit to the Thomasian community, the events, which were held minus its live audience, were livestreamed on the Facebook pages of UST and UST Tiger TV. Musical talents for the virtual concert included Thomasian bands and talents along with local bands like Nobita, Orange and Lemons and Mayonnaise. They performed at the Quadricentennial Pavilion.
The whole-day event began in the morning with an online celebration at UST’s virtual recreation of its historic Manila campus in the sandbox game Minecraft, which was opened to Thomasians and non-Thomasians alike.
In the afternoon, a Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D. It was concelebrated by the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines Very Rev. Filemon I. dela Cruz, Jr., O.P., and UST Vice-Rector Rev. Fr. Isaias Tiongco, O.P., and the Dominican Fathers.
Leading up to Christmas Day, the traditional Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi Masses were held from December 16 to 25, 2021, at the UST Plaza Mayor, an open space in front of the Main Building. The outdoor set-up safely allowed for more churchgoers. The Parish provided chairs that are arranged with physical distancing in mind and adhered to the health protocol requirements of the University and the government.
Prior to the culmination, the University formally began its traditional Paskuhan celebrations on November 27, 2021, with a lighting ceremony for its campus décor and an open-air Eucharistic Celebration at the Plaza Mayor. It was livestreamed through the official UST Facebook page.
Immediately before the lighting, UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D., delivered a message read by UST Vice-Rector Rev. Fr. Isaias Tiongco, O.P., at the anticipated Mass for the first Sunday of Advent.
Fr. Ang wished, “…for the Light of Christ to be in us as we tread the road through trials. A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in our soul, in our heart, as we continue walking down the road to triumph.”
“Let there be the beautiful Light of Jesus shining upon us and being with us always. May there be light in our hearts, in our families, and in our Thomasian and Parish communities,” the Father Rector wrote.
To illuminate the campus, 210,000 energy-efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes) were lit every 5:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. until the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6, 2022. In his Paskuhan Mass homily on December 17, 2021, Fr. Ang also mentioned that the University intentionally toned down the lights and decorations in sympathy with the Filipinos affected by the typhoon.
The theme, ”The Pilgrimage: Our Road through Trials, Our Road to Triumph,” according to UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P., EHL, is about the pilgrimage that Mary and Joseph took looking for a place where the child Jesus would be born. This pilgrimage is likewise experienced in the present time, when we journey together as a people, looking for answers to the many questions related to the pandemic: how mankind will be able to conquer it, and when we would see its end.
“Christmas Fireworks” composed by the Conservatory of Music Dean Assoc. Prof. Antonio Africa, Ph.D., accompanied the lighting of the campus shown alongside a montage of previous Paskuhan lighting ceremonies produced by the UST Communications Bureau.
The decorations included the 70-foot tall Christmas tree, life-sized figures of the Holy Family at the Arch of the Centuries, the Cross atop the Main Building, and many more lights framing the Benavides Park and campus streets.
The Christmas Tree was made up of 50,000 blue LEDs that drew attention to the Star, with meteor lights interspersed to enliven the tree.
Another 160,000 LEDs, majority of which were reused from previous years, brighten up the other campus trees and structures. Some lights form the shape of gothic arches as a throwback to a time when UST was still in Intramuros.