IT HAS been two years since Thomasians last gathered at the UST football field to enjoy and watch in awe as the Paskuhan pyromusical show lights up the Manila night sky.

Coincidentally, the team behind the firework shows are both Thomasians and equally miss the year-end spectacle.

Don Miguel Villarosa and John Oliver Zeng of Dragon Fireworks are the official show designer and technical director, respectively, of UST’s pyromusical shows.

Both graduates of advertising arts in 2009, Zeng and Villarosa first pitched the pyromusical shows back in 2010 as part of the University’s quadricentennial celebration the following year.

“There were 11 companies bidding for the quadricentennial shows [and] we were the last to actually present,” Villarosa told the Varsitarian. 

Since then, the company has curated shows for subsequent university events such as Paskuhan, Baccalaureate Mass, the Feast of Our Lady of La Naval, and some college weeks.

They have also competed in and won several firework competitions abroad.

In 2017, they received the Jury Award at the Festival of Pyrotechnic Arts in Cannes, France while the following year in 2018 they bagged the Vestale d’Argent and Public Choice Award. 

They also won the Gold Jupiter and Best Soundtrack at the Montreal International Fireworks Competition in Canada in 2018.

The pandemic effect

But restrictions on mass gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic have slowed down Dragon Fireworks’ business.

During last year’s New Year countdown, they were only allowed two shows, one in Makati and one in Quezon City Circle, compared to their usual five pyromusical productions pre-pandemic.

Villarosa said that it was a “blessing in disguise” for the company to finish big projects before the pandemic hit to help tide them over during the lockdown.

Despite the lack of shows, the company saw an increase in demand for their other firework products. 

“Last year was our best year in consumer fireworks,” Villarosa said.

He attributed it to people’s belief in warding off “bad luck” through fireworks along with the fear of going to public places where the big firework displays usually happen.

And with the continued decline in Covid cases in the country, company operations are slowly going back to normal.  

Villarosa said that the New Year’s Eve countdown show at Bonifacio Global City will be their biggest gig this year where they will stage a grand fireworks display as well as a drone show. 

Local government units have also expressed interest in booking a show, but are hesitant due to the threat of the new Omicron variant.

“Ang problema lang namin ‘yung confirmation nila kasi nga medyo urong-sulong sila dahil ‘yun nga—papasok ba si Omicron?” he said. 

Paskuhan magic

For these two Thomasians, curating a show for UST’s Paskuhan festivities holds a special place in their business.

“When we design Paskuhan, process siya samin na October pa lang, nag-uusap na kami anong gagawin natin sa December?” Villarosa said.

“Ayaw ko kasi yung i-recycle namin yung show. Pinaghahandaan namin yung Paskuhan more than any other show kasi parang pangalan namin yung nakataya dun eh. Taga-UST kami,” he said.

While bringing the magic to Thomasian traditions has been overwhelming, Villarosa said the positive reception to their shows make all the hard work worth it.

“Kahit gaano kahirap, you get the satisfaction na ‘pag ‘yung mga tao nagsisigawan, nagpapalakpakan, iba ‘yung emotions lalo na ‘pag ganun na ‘yung nararamdaman mo na worth it ‘yung lahat ng pagod at hirap,” he said.


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