• Toym Imao’s light sculptures kickstart Christmas in Diliman
• Tan: ‘UP marks itself as tiny blaze that continuously burns’

by Alysha Nacino

Inspired by the Lubena Christmas festival in Pampanga, Toym Imao’s lanterns and light sculptures adorn the Oblation, launching UP Diliman’s holiday celebrations. Photo by Krysten Mariann Boado
Inspired by the Lubena Christmas festival in Pampanga, Toym Imao’s lanterns and light sculptures adorn the Oblation, launching UP Diliman’s holiday celebrations. Photo by Krysten Mariann Boado

Darkness has fallen, and the stars were yet to come out from their hiding place. Murmurs from the excited crowd traveled through the air until the lone note for the famous Christmas carol “Gabing Payapa” rose above them, strong and tremulous.

One by one, student athletes descended the steps of Quezon Hall, holding white lanterns of different shapes and sizes. They made their way to the giddy spectators as the only source of light amidst the prevailing darkness for this year’s annual Pag-iilaw sa Diliman, which marks the beginning of the Christmas season in the university.

UP president Alfredo Pascual said the Pag-iilaw held on November 27, was different from the previous lighting ceremonies in the university.

With UP’s present Christmas theme, Dingas: “Adhikaing Diliman, Adhikaing Bayan”, the university did not only light up the iconic Oblation and the Quezon Hall, they also circled the Academic Oval, parading hand-made lanterns and lighting up the other buildings as well.

The parade, led by a marching band, went around half the Oval followed by 20 beautifully crafted parols which took the students and visitors to respective stations during the event.

Spectators made six stops during the parade: UP Ampitheater, Vargas Museum, AS (Palma Hall) steps, Main Library, College of Engineering and the Carillon Tower before heading back to Quezon Hall where the Oblation was unraveled and eventually set ablaze by its fiery design.

Several students from the UP Integrated School released 107 blinking technicolor balloons to signify years of UP’s unwavering service to the nation. Meanwhile, student groups such as the UP Dance Company, UP Pugad Sayk and UP Street Dance Club entertained the crowd the symbolic ceremony that marked the beginning of Christmas in the university.

Aninag 2015 was inspired by the Kapampangan Christmas tradition Lubenas that gave birth to the province’s renowned Giant Lantern Festival where hand crafted parols are paraded around the streets of Pampanga, displaying the ingenuity and creativity of the Kapampangans.

Bilang lunsaran ng mga radikal na kaisipan, kamulatan sa mga usaping pambayan at mga pagkilos, ang pamana ng UP ay mistulang maliit na ningas ng apoy na unti-unting lumalagablab (As a platform for radical thoughts and eye-opening discussions, UP marks itself as a tiny blaze that continuously burns),” Chancellor Michael Tan said in his speech during Friday’s event.

The blazing lanterns surrounding the campus is the work of renowned visual artist Toym Imao whose carefully crafted handiwork transformed the Quezon Hall plaza into a sea of fire.

Imao, whose childhood memories include enjoying Christmas festivities in Pampanga, specifically avoided using common Christmas symbols to remind the UP community that the flames of critical thought and social awareness must be ignited all year round.

Instead of the using traditional star-shaped lanterns, 107 fireballs stand on the lush, green field in front of the Oblation. A gigantic parol shaped like a wild, uncontrollable fire rages behind the icon—the same fire that represents the role of the university’s students, the alumni, the professors and the institution itself in the nation.

“[It is] a spark of inspiration; a spark that creates movement, a spark that generates interest…a spark that lights up our passion,” Imao said.

As Aninag 2015 lit up the rest of the campus, UP welcomes the Christmas season by reigniting the passion within the hearts of the members of its community and encouraging them to continue illuminating the present darkness that veils the nation and challenging them to carry on to the society that flames of honor and excellence.  


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