The 70-foot Christmas tree became the centerpiece of the University of Sto. Tomas’ yearly Paskuhan celebration. On Decemebr 15, the Paskuhan brought together the UST community in a grand fair featuring various food stalls, a shopping bazaar, games, musical performances—all to celebrate the merry season and to signal the start of its holiday break.
The 405-year-old Roman Catholic university, officially known as The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, began its Paskuhan tradition with a Holy Mass at the Quadricentennial Pavilion officiated by its 96th Rector Magnificus Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P.
In his homily, Fr. Dagohoy talked about the darkness that looms over us today: “Darkness looms when we fail to fix our criminal justice system…”; “Darkness looms when we fail to tell the stories of the lives of those who generally fought for freedom, [against] the atrocities of martial rule…”; “Darkness looms when we allow the responsible use of social media to demonize those whose opinions differ from ours…”; and “Darkness looms when we promote the culture of impunity…”
Like the light of Bethlehem that brought seekers to baby Jesus, Fr. Dagohoy also encouraged the UST community to see the light through Jesus. He said, This light allowed us not only to see the truth, but it also gave peace. The central message of the Christmas story is the message of peace.”
Paraphrasing the words of the late Archbishop William Temple, Fr. Dagohoy noted: “He said that Christ came to us not to shield us from the darkness and harshness of the world, but to give us the courage to bear it. not to protect us from the conflicts of life, but to give us peace, the peace by which we could steadfastly and calmly face the troubles of this life and bring to the troubled and torn and fractured world the healing that it so desires.”
As in past years, a high point of the festivities is a grand fireworks display. But of course, the evening did not end there as the country’s top bands continued to rouse the party spirit with their brand of musical entertainment.