Paskuhan is coming

by Trixia Claire Delos Santos

UST kicks off the Paskuhan season with its annual Christmas concert and lighting ceremony, Friday, Dec. 1. Photo by Earl Balce/TomasinoWeb.

I was barely finished eating when it happened.

The twinkling lights surrounding me suddenly went out — enveloping the University of Santo Tomas in darkness. Screams of excitement filled the cold December air and sparks of energy flew as the huge LED screens blinked with the countdown. I watched the scene in front of me in awe, yet also nervous for I was about to witness this magnificence for the very first time.

Sitting on a pavement along Lovers’ Lane, with all the people hyped for tonight’s event, everything was still a blur to me.

As soon as my classes ended at noon, Thomasians were in flurry of actions — with each mouth uttering their excitement to the most-awaited Paskuhan lighting ceremony. As the community gathered at the Plaza Mayor for the annual mass, the rain suddenly poured. However, not a single drop of rain dampened the Thomasians: Their hype only grew louder when a rainbow appeared during the mass, painting color to the gloomy sky.

“There is no dragon that cannot be tamed, nor beast that God cannot slay,” Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. said, imploring Thomasians to remember the true king among all kings.

As the Eucharistic celebration drew to conclusion, the Agape finally began. Thomasians scurried away to queue on their assigned booths for their free food.

The University went “car-less” for that day, and everywhere, crowds of people huddled together, munching on their food, with the evident crunch of the scrumptious lechon. Laughter filled the air, and I cannot help thinking that this could be the Thomasian version of Noche Buena.

The screams beside me snapped me back to reality.

Two big screens beside the stage showed the countdown for the ceremony and it made everyone squeal in sheer anticipation. O Come All Ye Faithful blared at the speakers, and with every beat, my heart resonates.

My hands are shaking.

I held up my phone, looking for any signs of spark.

My knees are shivering.

All I can see it the moon smiling at us, like it was also waiting as the lights come to life.

My heart is trembling.

I looked at my friends, the first people I have the honor to spend this momentous event.

My lungs halted.

“Sh*t, ang ganda ng mga ilaw!”

And everyone stood in delight, pointing at the large Christmas tree which was now glowing together with the University of Santo Tomas sign. Suddenly, we were all swallowed with vibrance as the University glowed with beauty and elegance.

Everyone howled with joy, snapping photos as the beauty unraveled before them, but I stood frozen, staring at the grandeur that was in front of me — the lights that symbolize the start of the yule season in the University which I only dreamt of seeing one day.

Something exploded above me and I was completely rendered speechless — the stark black sky was sprinkled with lights. Lasting for only mere seconds, the fireworks illuminated not only the sky, but also the gloom in everyone’s hearts.

“It was really beautiful. They brought back the traditional lights hanging from the branches of trees,” Rachelle Basa from the College of Accountancy said.

“Compared to last year, it [opening of lights] was full of efforts,” Eleazar Bilog, a Senior High School — Accountancy, Business, and Management student also told me.

“Medyo nakakabitin yung fireworks, but the overall rating is two thumbs up.”

At the start, I was really having second thoughts on watching the event. I had a lot of quizzes for the next day and I badly needed to study. But my friend approached me and insisted that we should at least see the lights and the fireworks; we would be the one who would most enjoy them since it would be our first time, he said.

Indeed, he was right. Every bit of the event was worth treasuring and worth sharing.

And as I opened the door of my room, the first thing I noticed was the window at the far-end, with the Christmas tree glowing brightly from a distance. The image of Drogon suddenly flashed in my mind and then it hit me.

“Winter is coming,” as the famous motto of House Stark said. Staring into open space, there was only one thing I can think of right now — Paskuhan has finally arrived.