The last time I attended University of Santo Tomas’ annual Christmas celebration, The UST Paskuhan, was during my final year of stay at the university. I distinctly recall walking down the grassy football field on my way out, gazing up at the mushrooming fireworks above, and thinking this was my last year as a student of Santo Tomas.
Fast-forward December 2010. The day has been a wet one, it has been drizzling on and off the whole morning. But this didn’t stop people from crowding up on all the available entrance to the university.
It was slow going and when we finally got past the gate, a guard promptly asked us for an ID. I didn’t know we needed an ID, I’ve lost mine years ago and I still haven’t applied for a UST alumnus ID. Good thing my cousin is currently a student and they’re allowed to bring some guests in, close call.
A band was playing as we entered the grounds, the place was super jam-packed. I’ve never seen UST’s 21.5 hectare grounds filled up with so many people.
Glittering lights were everywhere; dangling down trees, plastered on building walls, and the most prominent one, towering twenty feet up, the giant Christmas tree at the football field.
Booths and stalls lined up the sides of the field; selling a gamut of products from UST themed shirts and pins, to Jollibee burgers and Starbucks coffee. And the lines to these of course were constantly long.
The program alternated from local bands and UST groups. Kamikaze, Franco and Pupil were among the few who rocked the crowd that night.
It was almost midnight when Pupil, the last act to perform was announced up the stage. Everyone was already getting restless waiting for the anticipated fireworks to start. It had really been a tiring night, with no place to sit on but the grassy areas around the campus.
As the first chords of Pupil’s song reverberated through the multiple speakers spread through the campus, a blistering barrage of fire lit up the midnight sky. Colors after colors went up the heavens to the oohs and aahs of the people. All faces were trained upwards as a slew of fiery colors danced through the black night and lit up everyone’s eyes.
Everyone was totally lost on the magic right above the four century-old university, a fitting finale for the UST’s 400th year.