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UPD ushers in Christmas

(December 6)—The UP Diliman community came together at Quezon Hall at 6 p.m. on December 5 to welcome the Christmas season and sing carols in the program Pag-iilaw sa Pasko 2012.

At the heart of the yearly tradition is the turning on of the holiday lights along the University Avenue, Quezon Hall and its surroundings by top UP officials, namely President Alfredo E. Pascual and UPD Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma. Staged at the Oblation Plaza, the program is also the venue for UP officials to greet the community who are gathered to open the Christmas celebrations on campus.

This year’s Christmas festivities carry the theme “Dangal at Kahusayan sa Paglilingkod sa Bayan.”

The theme reiterates UP’s mandate, Saloma said. “It is critical for the various stakeholders of the UPD community to work together and realize a common purpose, which is to make UP a successful graduate, research and public service university that will provide our nation with the next generation of leading scholars, scientists, researchers and artists. This is the burden of UP, having been declared the only national university in the country.”

Saloma also pointed to the renovation of the Oblation Plaza, undertaken at minimum cost to the University. “The Oblation Plaza is the most visited and most photographed site on campus today. It is the most potent symbol of our university that has always inspired and reminded us to conduct ourselves with honor and courage to continue improving ourselves in order to excel in our chosen discipline or degree program.”

Pascual, on his part, reiterated the significance of the program. “Ang pagtitipong ito ay sumisimbolo ng pinakamahalagang regalong maiuukol ng ating unibersidad sa sambayanan—ang kadalubhasaan, karunungan at kaalaman para sa sambayanan,” he said. (This gathering symbolizes the most important gift the University can offer to the nation—its expertise, wisdom and knowledge.)

Hundreds of spectators, comprising students, faculty members, employees and campus residents—many with children in tow—came to see not only the huge white star behind the Oblation and the many smaller stars lining the University Avenue light up, but to be awed by the powerful performance of two of the University’s top talents, the UP Pep Squad and the UP ROTC Symphonic Band.

Fresh from their eighth championship win at the UAAP Cheerdance competition in September, the UP Pep did not disappoint, staging a four-part show complete with costume changes. The first and last parts showcased the award-winning stunts by the flyers in various pyramid formations; the second had a smaller group in a slow but still riveting number and the third featured the drummers, snappily beating away while the other members of the squad sang, and chanted to the rhythm.

The UP ROTC Symphonic Band, under the baton of Prof. Rodney Ambat, provided the much-needed Christmas ambience by playing the soundtrack of the season. Their centerpiece for the evening was Man in the Ice by Otto Schwarz, an Austrian composer conductor in the field of film music and symphonic wind music.  The dapper Ambat later led the community singing of Christmas songs, with Jesper Colleen Mercado on the piano.

Seamlessly putting the program together were alumni-hosts Arianne Via L. Antonio and Arkel Suaco Mendoza.

In keeping with the tradition, many colleges followed suit, switching on their Christmas lanterns to accentuate the campus buildings with points of subtle glow. At the corner of C.P. Garcia Avenue and Velasquez Street, Balay Tsanselor welcomed the season too, by switching on the lights of its parol, a décor provided by the UPD Extension Program in Pampanga.--CAI