CHRISTMAS in UST is known by only one word: Paskuhan.

The yearly Yuletide feast had sealed friendships and first loves, given good luck for some, and built memories to last for countless Thomasians – all wrapped in a nice package complete with grand Christmas decorations, impressive fireworks, exciting raffle prizes, and of course, free food.

That is why alumni keep on coming back for the massive Christmas party that has become a veritable Thomasian tradition.

It was in 1993, nearly a decade and a half ago, when then UST treasurer Fr. Tereso Campillo, O.P. thought of organizing a Christmas celebration for the entire University.

It has become something to look forward to every school year.

Every year, workers spruce up the 80-foot tall steel-framed Christmas tree originally designed by College of Fine Arts and Design Prof. Rey Amado Mañago, to be officially lit by the Rector during the Paskuhan festivity. A stage extending the grandstand was put up every school year for the Christmas program until UST decided to make it permanent. Yellow lights adorn the outline of the Main Building, making the famous UST landmark really a sight to behold.

For Faculty of Arts and Letters professor Neil Armstrong Garcia, the Paskuhan has become a ritual of sorts for his family. Garcia brings his family with him to watch the program while eating homemade snacks.

“The Paskuhan is also a family-oriented activity,” he said.

After experiencing it as a freshman, AB sophomore Katrina Mae Joson has vowed to attend the University Christmas party every year.

“My family, friends and I already know about the Paskuhan even before I got into the University,” Joson said. “It is already known as an exciting and a famous Christmas event even outside UST.”

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College of Nursing alumna Eudel Lyn Tan attends the Paskuhan to gaze at the fireworks, which she describes as one of the most important and exciting parts of the UST-wide extravaganza.

The party won’t be complete without good food – and fastfood chains such as Kenny Rogers, McDonald’s and KFC have alternated to provide almost everybody’s fill. And then there’s the raffle draw.

For years now, the Paskuhan has given away home appliances, personal computers, sala sets, sacks of rice, and many other prizes for a ticket worth only 99 centavos. The prizes are courtesy of UST suppliers and other donors, and proceeds go to community and extension projects of the University.

Graduating student Leila Kalumpati of the College of Architecture hopes her last Paskuhan will be spectacular and memorable, as it has always been.

“It (is an important event,) like taking our exit (at) the Arch of the Centuries. I (won’t be able to fully enjoy my stay in UST) without celebrating my last Paskuhan,” Kalumpati said.

Perhaps one of the most memorable of the yearly Paskuhans was the 1998 celebration, when a heavy downpour failed to dampen the UST Christmas mood. Thomasians rushed to the gymnasium and continued the celebration.

Throughout the years, showing no signs of being tired or clichéd, the Paskuhan tradition lives on.

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