UP campuses around the nation light it up for Christmas

| Written by Andre DP Encarnacion

This December saw the return of a familiar sight in UP campuses across the nation as crowds gathered—the first time for many since the COVID-19 pandemic began—to celebrate their respective pag-iilaw or lighting ceremonies. From UP’s Baguio to Mindanao campus, officials, performers, and onlookers gathered to switch on the lights and decorations that herald the holiday season.

After two long years, the familiar crowds were there to greet the turning on of the lights in UP Diliman’s Oblation Plaza on December 9. Diliman’s pag-iilaw had the theme, Bagong Tahak, Bagong Galak, and celebrated the strength of the UP community and its ability to face and move beyond adversity. The pre-lighting ceremony featured performances by the acapella group Iskollas, UP College of Music Professor of Strings and Chamber Music Solaiman Jamisolamin, and UP student RJ Balledos. The UP Filipinania Dance Group (FDG) performed wasiwas, a Pangasinan dance, as a prelude to the light ceremony.

With all other lights turned off, UPD College of Fine Arts faculty member Abdulmari Imao’s art installation, KAThAKATAKA, was finally switched on. Inspired by the ‘miracle plant,’ katakataka, found at the Oblation base, the installation symbolizes resilience and, in Oblation creator and National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino’s words, the capacity of deep-rooted patriotism to “grow anywhere in the Philippines.”

UPD College of Fine Arts Abdulmari Imao’s art installation, KAThAKATAKA, is inspired by the ‘miracle plant’ growing at Obie’s feet. Photo by Jonathan Madrid (UP MPRO)
Colorful cultural presentations serve as a prelude to UPD’s lighting ceremony. Photo by Jonathan Madrid (UP MPRO)
UPD Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo addresses the UP Diliman community. Photo by Jonathan Madrid (UP MPRO)

According to an article by the UP Diliman Information Office (DIO), the main lantern surrounding the Oblation is shaped like a katakataka leaf, its veins alluding to the branches of the “tree of life” or the arbol de la vida and the luhul, folk art forms originating from Mexico and Tausug tapestry, respectively.

Once the installation was lighted, UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo joined Jamisolamin and Balledos in performing National Artist Felipe Padilla de Leon’s Payapang Daigdig with lyrics by Brigido C. Batungbakal. Those present were then treated to a medley of beloved Christmas hits courtesy of Soundscapes Manila.

Lights gather at the feet of UP Baguio’s Oblation. Photo from the UP Baguio Facebook page
Performances from UPB Gitara and Awit 5 marked UP Baguio’s lighting ceremony. Photo from the UP Baguio Facebook page

Up north, UP Baguio held its pag-iilaw earlier on December 2. Marked by performances from UPB Gitara and Awit 5, the lighting ceremony climaxed when streams of white lights cut through the darkness all over the campus, the heart of the spectacle being the lighted base of UP Baguio’s own Oblation statue.

Similarly, UP Manila began its Christmas events on December 5 with a lighting ceremony led by UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla. With the theme, Kita-Kita, Sama-Sama, Ang Saya Ng Pasko Sa UP Manila, the lighting saw UP Manila introducing various merry and charitable holiday events for the month, like the Adopt-a-ward project, Misa de Gallo, Christmas jingle/TikTok making contest, and a face-to-face Lantern Parade on December 16.

UPM Chancellor Carmencita Padilla addresses the UP Manila and UP-PGH community. Photo from the UP Manila Facebook page
UP Manila’s Christmas tree in front of the UP-PGH brings joy to all. Photo from the UP Manila Facebook page

UP Visayas officially opened the holiday season through its celebration, Paskua, with a lights ceremony in both its Iloilo and Miagao campuses on December 5 and 6, respectively. With the theme, Pagsaulog sang Kabuhi kag Kadalag-an, Paskua,2022, and also featured a first-ever Christmas concert featuring eight performing acts from the Iloilo area.

UPV’s Iloilo campus comes alive with light and song. Photo from the UP Visayas Facebook page
UPV Tacloban College’s Oblation shows off his colors. Photo from the UPVTC Facebook page

Not to be outdone, UP Los Baños also held its #PaskongUPLB event on December 9. Several Christmas-themed decorations in different locations across the campus were lit up, including the giant UPLB Christmas Tree and the UPLB Belen in Carabao Park. The opening of #PaskongUPLB also coincided with the launching of UPLB’s Christmas Bazaar near the grounds of the Student Union Building. Aside from a Buskers’ Night held on December 10, the Christmas celebration in UPLB also featured several concerts, a Christmas party, and a fireworks display on December 19.

Keeping the tradition alive, UPLB Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr. led the countdown to the simultaneous lighting of Christmas displays on campus. Aside from the traditional Belen at Carabao Park, this year’s decorations included lights and Christmas decor at Pili Drive, Freedom Park, and DL Umali Hall. The event also featured dance and music performances from different student groups and the College of Economics and Management (CEM), last year’s Paskong UPLB TikTok contest winner. Photo from the UPLB Facebook page

UP Cebu also kicked off its Christmas celebration with its Pasko sa UP 2022 event on December 16. With the theme, Hudyaka: Madasigong Pasko, Malaumong Pilipino, Kanunay nga Nangandoy sa Nasudnong Pagbag-o, the celebration marked the first time in three years that the UP Cebu community could gather to celebrate the holidays joyfully. It featured a lighting ceremony, a lantern parade, and other thrilling events.

UP Mindanao also kicked off its Christmas celebration with Kasadya, and the theme, Pagtambayayong Lig-onon, Kalambuan Ipadayon, on December 7. Like many other campuses, it marked the first time after almost three years of virtual celebrations that the UP Mindanao community could band together and celebrate the holiday season. It featured a pailaw or lighting ceremony, as well as building decorations. That evening was just the first of many other Christmas-themed events in UP Mindanao, with the UP Symphony Orchestra holding its Christmas concert there on December 20 and the lantern parade on December 21.

Moonlit UPMin’s Oble amid Christmas trees. Photo from UP Mindanao’s Facebook page
UP Mindanao lights UP. Photo from the UP Mindanao Facebook page