According to the Web site of the University of the Philippines Diliman campus (www.upd.edu.ph), Christmas festivities kicked off on Tuesday, Dec. 2, with the traditional lighting of the campus followed by “a concert entitled Tanglaw Sentenyal: Mga Tugtuging Pagdiriwang, featuring the UP Symphonic Band under the direction of professor Leopoldo Lopez, and the UP Symphonic Orchestra under the baton of professor Edna Marcil-Martinez and professor Rodney Ambat.”
Just reading those words from the UP Web site brought back a lot of memories. Diliman was always lovely in December —cool, breezy and sometimes misty. For a city-bred girl, it always fascinated me how the air always seemed cooler and sweeter, and how the breeze blew more boldly, in December at the Diliman campus even when it was smack at the center of a highly urbanized area. But amid the lush greenery, the smell of pollution was never as bad. It was possible to walk from one building to another even at noon, under a canopy of centuries-old acacia trees, and not perspire the way one ordinarily would while walking along the concrete pavements in the city.
December in UP Diliman was always magical. Or, perhaps, it seemed so seen through the eyes of a starry-eyed teenager who was looking forward to the rest of her life. I remember the UP Concert Chorus and the UP Singing Ambassadors hopping from one college to another serenading the public. Rare treats, really, considering that tickets to their world-renowned concerts were often beyond the means of students.
It was in December too when classes would be disrupted by the anniversary celebration of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity with the traditional “streak” where members, faces covered, would run stark naked around Palma Hall amid cheers and jeers from the students.
I remember when the UP Law Charivari, the College of Law’s choral group, staged Chorus Juris Secundum for two nights in a December long ago. What an experience! And I had to drop a subject to fit the rehearsals into my study schedule. The Manhattan Transfer and Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” were all the rage then. Among those who performed that year were Philippine Star columnist Dot Balasbas Gancayco; UP College of Business Administration’s Roderick Ben Santos; Andrefanio (“Mario”) D. Santos, ABS-CBN legal counsel; Joel Nuñez, co-writer of Regal Film’s White Lady, who was also the show’s choreographer; Rodolfo (“Inky”) Reyes and the late Ferdinand Aristorenas, both former deputies of Dick Gordon in Subic.
And then there was the annual lantern parade. There were years when we made lanterns and there were years when we were mere spectators. There was a year when we made a lantern that looked like panels of stained glass windows and there was a year when we merely stood on the balcony of Malcolm Hall watching the lantern parade move around the academic oval. But whether one was a participant or a spectator, the thrill was there.
In the College of Law, the lantern parade was usually preceded by Malcolm Madness where students performed and competed in musical numbers. It was the only time of the year when we could make fun of our professors, young and old and even including the dean, and not get a bold 5 in our class cards. I tell you, we really made the most of the licentiousness of the occasion and there were times when the jokes weren’t even mild.
I don’t know how they celebrate Christmas in the College of Law these days but from the list of Christmas activities in the Diliman campus, it looks like a lot of fun. For fellow alumni who want to bask in the nostalgia, below is the list of the rest of the Christmas activities in the Diliman campus as announced in the UP Diliman Web site.
December 5, 5 p.m. Coral Building, Office of the Campus Architect: The opening of Designing Diliman, a centennial exhibition of the architecture, planning and landscape design of the UP Diliman (1939-2008). The exhibit showcases the campus as a veritable living laboratory of 20th century Philippine architectural styles and urbanist tendencies, with the exhibition locating the constituent structures within the contexts of shifting social environments, from colonial to national, from national to global.
The exhibit is organized by the College of Architecture Foundation for the Built Environment, Office of the Campus Architect, and OICA.
December 9, 5 p.m. University Theater: Karolfest, a choral competition featuring various student choirs organized by OICA, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and the University Student Council (USC).
December 15, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. University Theater: Hagikhikan 2008: UP Diliman Faculty Follies, a variety show featuring members of the University faculty showcasing their talents in acting, dancing, singing and entertainment.
“December 16: Bisita Kultura, an annual project of OICA bringing musical performances to selected areas on campus: 10 a.m. Melchor Hall steps (performer/s, to be announced); 3 p.m. Gonzalez Hall steps, featuring the UP Woodwind Quintet; 5 p.m. Palma Hall steps, featuring the UP Brass Quintet.
December 17, 4 p.m. Academic Oval: The Centennial Lantern Parade.
Last year’s celebrations were huge as they kicked off the UP Centennial. I hope this year’s will be even more fun. After all, 2008 is UP’s Centennial.