Thousands of Thomasians flock to the University for the Agape, lighting of the Christmas lights and decors on campus, and the UST Christmas Gala Concert on Friday, Dec. 2. (Photo by Marvin John F. Uy/ The Varsitarian)

MORE THAN 34,000 Thomasians attended this year’s Agape, lighting of the Christmas lights and decorations, and Christmas concert at University grounds on Friday, Dec. 2, which marked the start of the Paskuhan celebrations in UST.

UST campus security supervisor Lords Hernandez told the Varsitarian that the University’s initial crowd estimate for the Agape was about 34,500, based on food packs claimed during the event.

The estimate did not include the number of alumni attendees since the food packages were limited to students and employees of the University.

Hernandez said there were no major safety and security concerns during the Agape, and that the same security protocols, with some modifications, would be implemented during the Paskuhan concert on Dec. 19, which usually draws at least 80,000 attendees when opened to the public.

All activities for the Paskuhan are exclusive to Thomasians this year.

Medyo critical (‘yung Paskuhan) kasi nga mataas ‘yong eagerness ng mga tao kasi three years wala e. Mataas ‘yong eagerness, mataas ‘yong excitement,” Hernandez told the Varsitarian.

During the Agape, Thomasians who entered the campus were asked to tap their IDs or scan their QR codes at the University gates. On regular days, students and faculty members only need to tap their IDs or scan their QR codes when entering buildings.

Those who received an “access denied” error were asked to rescan their IDs or QR codes after updating their Thomasian Online Medical Services and Support (ThOMedSS) health declaration.

Hospital visitors were allowed to enter the campus through the Lacson gate, while church visitors were permitted through the P. Noval gate.

Hernandez said the University tapped 70 additional security guards for the Agape to conduct patrols inside and outside the campus. UST also coordinated with the local police unit for security outside the campus.

The food distribution started at 5 p.m., while the lighting of the Christmas lights and decorations began at 6 p.m. A fireworks display, which lasted for about 40 seconds, was mounted shortly after the lighting.

It was followed by the “all-Filipino” Christmas Gala Concert.

‘Unmatched’ on-site Paskuhan festivities

As a first-time attendee, senior high school student Brian Castañeda said seeing thousands of Thomasians gathered together was a joyful experience for him.

“It was very fun and exciting, lalo na hindi ko alam ‘yong mangyayari kasi first time ko. So far, satisfying naman ‘yong experience,” Castañeda told the Varsitarian.

Some Thomasians, meanwhile, treated the Agape as a reunion with their friends.

Sobrang saya po kasi nakita namin ‘yong friends namin before pa nag-pandemic. Memorable kasi marami po kami nakitang tao,” legal management senior Chrizel Satulan said.

In a short speech during the Agape program, UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., said the celebration of Paskuhan festivities in person remains unmatched.

Naging malikhain at makulay ang nakaraang Christmas concert, subalit walang papantay sa ating aktwal na presensya at sama-samang pakikilahok ngayong gabi. Akmang-akma ang tema ng ating Paskuhan para sa taong ito—pananabik, pagbabalik, panunumbalik,” he said. with reports from Logan Kal-El Zapanta


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