The University of Santo Tomas community has always anticipated the University’s annual Paskuhan celebration, which customarily begins with a Eucharistic celebration and the ceremony of Lighting the Campus. With the theme “For Unto Us, a Child is Born,” the 2019 Paskuhan Festivities commenced on December 2, 2019 at the Plaza Mayor. For this year, an exhibition of more than 100 Belen or nativity scenes organized by the UST Museum brings the essence of the theme closer to the heart of Thomasians. The exhibition collection is from Rev. Fr. Genaro O. Diwa.
The Eucharistic Celebration with UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., as homilist, was concelebrated with the Dominican priests.
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 ceremony where performers from the UST Conservatory of Music accompanied the gradual lighting of the campus. The historic campus glowed 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 of the city government with various institutions for a more vibrant Manila.
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.
For the first time since the Paskuhan tradition began in the University in 1991, a drone show was included in the program as an added attraction. There were two sets of aerial shows, with 50 and 180 drones, respectively, which culminated the opening night of the Paskuhan. The fireworks display came at the onset of the campus lighting, which illuminated the Main Building in dazzling colors and design.
UST Christmas Concert
In the same week, a Christmas Concert 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, sang songs in line with the theme “Christmas Around the World.” They 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 Christmas concert included University choirs such as Coro Tomasino, Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble, and partner community choirs such as the Aeta Community Choir and Parents Advocate for Visually Impaired Children’s (PAVIC) Choir.
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 friends of the University that included those from the diplomatic corps, academe and industry.
The Paskuhan festivities will reach its peak on December 20, 2019, with well-known bands performing at the UST Grandstand, and the Paskuhan Fair happening in campus. The pyromusical display will illuminate the UST skyline at 9:10 p.m., as the finale of the traditional Paskuhan celebrations for this year.