To mark the beginning of the annual Christmas traditions of the University
of Santo Tomas, the historic campus in Manila was transformed with lights
fit for a unique holiday experience.
With the theme of “light from Light: Prince of Peace,” the campus decorations were lit on December 3, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. The Cross atop the UST Main Building tower that symbolizes the Light that is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, from whom all other lights originate, became more prominent with the lighting. With a 70-foot Christmas tree shining at the UST Grandstand like a beacon in campus, around 600 lanterns illuminated the grounds of the 407-year old University.
A total of 600,000 LED lights brightened the campus each night, with
the Christmas tree itself decorated by hundreds of assorted ornaments, 80
lanterns, and 100 PAR lamps, which gave the tree a Royal purple glow. A large stylized image of the Holy Family also graced the Quadricentennial Park near the interactive fountain.
The decorations were lit in synchronization with the musical accompaniment “A Thrill of Hope,” adapted from O Holy Night by Adolphe Adam, and culminated with a fireworks display
The lighting ceremony followed the Eucharistic Celebration with the UST Vice Rector Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., as main presider, concelebrated with Dominican priests.
In Fr. Ang’s homily, he noted how family members have a sense of similarity beyond the physical appearances dictated by shared genetics. This resemblance in manner, borne from time spent together, is instilled in
people. He urged the faithful to be with God constantly, because “When we spend time with God, we become more like him. We become peacemakers.”
The Vice Rector further explained, “Jesus never promised that [peace is] going to be easy, but the peace He offers is the kind of peace that will allow us to experience serenity in the face of all circumstances that would cause us pressure… Peace that comes from God is not reliant on our strength
or on our surroundings. It comes from grace which transforms and leads us to wholeness and reconciliation. We become less self=centered, and we reach out to another in the same way the Lord treats us – with kindness,
with compassion, with understanding…
More than ever, Jesus really is the ‘Prince of Peace.’”
Fr. Ang concluded his homily by saying, “On behalf of the Father Rector and all the Dominican Fathers of UST, I wish you peace, because whenever I do that, I am wishing you life, good health, prosperity, harmony, and all of God’s favor. These are the bountiful blessings of Christmas.” Mass donations and offerings were earmarked to support Tulong Tomasino projects. After the lighting ceremony, members of the Thomasian community shared the annual Christmas feast called the “Agape.”
A Community in Song for the Prince of Peace The Thomasian community was serenaded with joyful Christmas carols in its Christmas Concert on December 4, 2018, 7:00 p.m., held at the Santísimo Rosario Parish (UST Chapel).
The 2018 UST Christmas Concert featured homegrown Thomasian talents from the UST Conservatory of Music, including the UST Symphony Orchestra. Also featured in the concert were Austria-based renowned
Tenor Abdul Candao, who has performed in concerts in more than 10 countries, Maestra Irma P.E. Potenciano, who is considered
the only Filipino to record with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and has starred in 13 full-length opera productions and five sarswela. Choirs from partner communities of UST, such as the Parents Advocate for
Visually Impaired Children‘s Choir (PAVIC), and the Aeta Community Children’s Choir, also joined the musical spectacle.UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Jesús M. Miranda, Jr., O.P., who also serves as Chair of the Permanent Committee for Events, delivered a welcome message during the
program, saying that, “Tonight’s Christmas Concert is truly a manifestation of Thomasian oneness in mission, unity in purpose and solidarity in action in this season of love and peace.”
Fr. Miranda also reminded the community to stand firm in their values, especially in this season of giving. He said, “While we joyfully wait for the coming of the Light that gives light to our paths, may we endeavor
to become the best person that we could be as our humble share in committing our individual or collective roles in supporting the University in its trifold ministry of education, research, and community organizing and
development. Let the Prince of Peace be our guide in our day-to-day endeavors, serving and always thinking of what is good for our neighbor, the Church, and our nation.”
Among the songs that were performed include: “Vissi D’Arte” from the Opera “Tosca” sung by soprano Maestra Irma P.E. Potenciano, accompanied by the UST Symphony Orchestra. The UST Conservatory of Music Hip Hop Dance Quintet, with ballet mentor Minette Caryl Maza and the UST
String Quintet, re-imagined Tchaikovsky’s classic score ”The Nutcracker” though hiphop choreography. A Jazz Christmas Medley was also presented by the UST Conservatory of Music Jazz Band under conductor Ayman
Linzag, and sung by Mary Patrice Pacis, Praise Ashonibare, Faye Yupano, and Demi Fresco.
The Grand Choir of UST also presented a Filipino Christmas Medley arranged by Prof. Herminigildo G. Ranera, Ph.D. The Grand Choir consists of members from the choirs of the University of Santo Tomas such as Coro Tomasino, Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble, UST Cantemus Chorale, UST Chorus of the Nightingales, UST One Voice Engineering Chorale, UST Pharmacy Glee Club, UST Accountancy Chamber Singers, UST Chorus of Arts and Letters, UST College of Science Glee Club, UST Senior High School Virtuoso, and the UST Junior High School Glee Club.
The month-long celebration reached its peak on December 21, 2018, with well-known bands performing at the UST Grandstand, and the Paskuhan Fair happening at the campus streets. The much-anticipated pyromusical display illuminated the UST skyline at 9:10 p.m., capping off the traditional Paskuhan celebrations for the year.