by Misty Pegram
With the looming weather and the rain already beginning to fall, the few hours preceding the day’s main event seemed bleak.
Distinct sounds of marching bands and Christmas music left the crowd in joyous anticipation, yet things only began to brighten up when colorful floats of different shapes and sizes started circling the University of the Philippines’ Academic Oval.
Held December 14, the annual Lantern Parade, with the theme “Dingas: Adhikaing Diliman, Adhikaing Bayan,” drew in thousands of students and spectators to celebrate both the Christmas season and the official end of the semester.
The parade, led by the ROTC Symphonic band, made its way around campus, stopping at different key locations such as the iconic Palma Hall, the Vinzons Hall and the Melchor Hall before reaching its final destination for a program at the UP Amphitheater.
The College of Engineering bagged the first spot in the university-wide competition with a lantern depicting the Oblation with a blazing heart surrounded by lights dancing along to upbeat music.
This was followed by the colorful sarimanok-themed house of the College of Architecture, which caught the attention of the audience as it disassembled to give way to performers dressed in the fashion of the Moro bird.
Gaining third place was a float exhibited by the National College of Public Administration and Governance, which depicted a blazing sun above several buildings.
“Taon-taon mas nagiging kahanga-hanga ang mga maniningning at malikhaing float (Each year we are more awed by the bright and creative floats),” UP President Alfredo Pascual said during his speech for this year’s program.
Meanwhile, films that ignited a spark for national progress became the central theme of the lanterns hailing from the College of Fine Arts.
Still revolving on the university-wide theme of Dingas, popular Pinoy movie characters were paraded in the college’s floats from the classic Dyesebel to the cult-followed Heneral Luna.
However, it was Panday, Asiong Salonga and Juan Tamad who earned first, second and third place in the college’s separate competition.
Aside from showcasing creativity and skill, the floats paraded around UP Diliman also sent various messages and calls coming from each college’s respective advocacies.
Made from recycled CD’s accompanied with television screens, the float of the College of Mass Communication (CMC) showed the media’s role in fueling the spark needed to create change.
Clad in yellow, the students of the college also remained united in their stance against the persistent culture of impunity with banners held high as they called to stop killing journalists.
“The essential structure is really the microphone and the (televisions) surrounding it,” Ria Tagle, chairperson of the CMC Student Council, said in describing the college’s lantern. “Mamaya, mas makikita how through our medium we create a spark (Later, we will further see how through our media we create a spark).”
In line with media killings, the UP Sandigan para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayanan sent a booming message through its military tank-designed float crafted by Toym Imao, the visual artist behind this year’s fiery Oblation design for Dingas 2015.
The tank was meant to remind people of the darkness brought about by the Marcos dictatorship and the rampant human rights violations during the Martial Law.
Showing their support for the Lumad, the College of Arts and Letters’ lantern portrayed the Bagobo’s myth of the Minokawa, which tells the story of a massive bird attempting to swallow the moon and forcing the people into darkness.
As a representative of the plight the Lumad are facing today, the portrayal of the myth carried was accompanied by a performance from the Lumad children.
“Kahit may ulan, kahit may bagyo, ‘di yan makakapigil sa dingas na nagbigay ng liwanag sa dilim (Even if there is rain, even if there is a typhoon, it will not stop the flame that gave light in the darkness),” said Chancellor Michael Tan in his message during the program.
Explosions of red, green, yellow and blue spreading across the sky signaled the close of the 2015 Lantern Parade.
With it, students, faculty, administrators and visitors were reminded that although the event was finished, its blazing theme to ignite change in society would continue as a message for spectators to carry on the university’s culture of honor and excellence in service of the people.
In tune with its theme, the Lantern Parade is simply a manifestation of this culture, and at the end of the day, the challenge lies outside the university.
After all, it only takes a spark to fully ignite a flame.