Recently, a quote by St. Augustine of Hippo has stuck with me: “Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.”

It’s the most beautiful time of the year. It’s Christmas, and it was supposed to be Paskuhan season in the days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Because of the pandemic, the Paskuhan celebrations have all gone virtual. In 2020, we settled for a replay of previous Paskuhan concerts streamed on Facebook. This year, we had live bands perform for the concert, but the celebration remained virtual.

The pandemic also cost us physical attendance to the past two Paskuhan Masses, Agape and lighting of Christmas displays. It was just impossible to make those events visitable for all Thomasians, given the restrictions the government has imposed to prevent the spread of the dreaded Covid-19.

As a graduating student whose home for the last six years has been UST, it was disappointing, to say the least, to accept the fact that I will not be able to experience the University’s Christmas staples in my last year. I sure do miss Paskuhan in UST.

But compared to what the whole world is going through, I could not help but remain thankful. 

The Philippines’ unemployment rate soared to an all-time high last year. Also last year, there was a record number of Filipinos who were expecting a sad Christmas and a record low expecting a “merry” Christmas. The pandemic has caused the most ultimate of disruptions.

Adding salt to the pandemic-caused wounds, typhoon “Odette” ravaged Visayas and Mindanao and claimed the lives of hundreds and destroyed the homes of thousands.

Just like what UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P. said in his homily during this year’s Paskuhan Mass, “we intentionally toned down and made simpler the University’s Christmas lights and decors to keep with the time. After all, sparkle and glitter are not the main event; maraming nawalan ng trabaho, marami ring nawala.”

This year’s Paskuhan concert had a fundraiser for victims of “Odette.” It raised over P233,000.

Missing celebrating Christmas in the University may be discouraging, but there are our Filipino brothers and sisters unable to celebrate Christmas at all.

The University’s initiative to launch fundraisers is part of what Paskuhan makes Paskuhan: it’s not always about the glitter and the glamour, it’s also about the giving and the charity.

There are also several Thomasians who have initiated their own fundraisers for victims of the typhoon. It shows, after all, that despite us not being able to attend our usual Christmas rites at our beautiful campus, the Thomasian spirit of giving is alive and well.

As Father Ang said in his homily, hope springs eternal. The best is yet to come, and happier days may be near, and ahead of us.


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