THE COUNTDOWN to UST’s 400th year officially began December 18, with the annual Paskuhan program launching four “quadricentennial symbols” before a record crowd of Thomasians and outsiders that flocked to the Pontifical and the Royal University’s “most memorable” Christmas celebration.
With the theme “4 horas, 4 dias, 400 days, 400 taon,” which represented the three cultures — Spanish, American, and Filipino — that defined UST’s history, the four-hour Paskuhan started with a parade of costumes from the Spanish colonial era to the 21st century.
The recitation of the quadricentennial prayer by Fr. Pompeyo de Mesa, O.P. over a candle-lighting ceremony followed, along with the lighting of the 80-foot Christmas tree and the UST grounds.
The raising of the quadricentennial flag embroidered with “2011,” and featuring the sun and the colors “yellow” and “blue” taken from the UST logo, coincided with an exhibition at the Main Building, drum rolls from the Yellow Jackets, and a dance number from the Salinggawi Dance Troupe.
Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. gave a message to the more than 50,000 people gathered at the UST open field.
“Tonight, we are not just Thomasians. We are the University of Santo Tomas,” the Rector said.
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A star-studded program followed, with beauty queen and UST alumna Miriam Quiambao as host and actor JC Cuadrado in-charge of the
annual Paskuhan raffle, which gave away prizes such as net books and gift certificates worth P5,000. Quiambao was later joined by Matanglawin host and USTv award winner Kim Atienza, a College of Education alumnus.
entertainers graced the show — singer Jamie Rivera (College of
Commerce), comedienne Beverly Salvejo (Science), former Pinoy Dream
Academy “scholar” RJ Jimenez (Engineering), internationally acclaimed
singers Isay Alvarez (Arts and Letters) and Robert Seña (Fine Arts),
actor Polo Ravales (Education), and dancer Archie Alemania (Arts and
Letters). Bands Sandwich and 6CycleMind, both managed by a Thomasian,
the clock ticked 12 midnight, the quadricentennial song “Ako’y Isang
Tomasino” by Gerardo de Leon and arranged by award-winning composer and
alumnus Jimmy Antiporda (both from Engineering), was sung by Thomasian
singers Apple Chiu and Aicelle Santos, with Rhap Salazar and the UST Singers.
The UST Symphony Orchestra provided music throughout the program.
The countdown began with the unveiling of the quadricentennial countdown clock by Swatch, a Swiss watch company, and designed by former Varsitarian art director Jonathan Gamalinda, followed by a fireworks display.
During the program, messages of congratulations from local celebrities were also shown. The Central Student Council moved around with stamps and stamp pads, marking every Thomasian with the message “countdown, count me in.”
“This year’s Paskuhan is more lively and the most colorful, not to mention, the most memorable,” said Reina Serador of the public affairs office, an Artlets alumna.
The Paskuhan festivities started last December 15 with the Paskuhan Mass and salu-salo. It also marked the first simbang gabi mass, celebrated by the Rector.
The Mass also featured the traditional Panunuluyan, a re-enactment of the quest of Joseph and Mary to find an inn where Mary could give birth to the Messiah.
“The greatest miracle is the coming of Jesus Christ as a human,” said De la Rosa in his homily. Jennifer Ann G. Ambanta
Photos by Paul Allyson R. Quiambao