Writer’s Recap: Lasallians become the gift-bearers of love in ‘Animo Christmas! 2023’

As the Manila and Laguna campuses welcomed the Christmas season, the spirit of solidarity shone brighter within the Lasallian community.

The Animo merrymaking returned with exuberance as the Lasallian community gathered to partake in the annual Christmas festivities during the Animo Christmas! 2023 last December 1. This year’s celebration was once again filled with holiday cheer as Lasallians enthusiastically joined in the spectacles prepared, enlivening the University with the Animo Christmas spirit. 

A wholesome atmosphere presided over this season with the theme Pagmamahalan: Handog sa Kapaskuhan. This Christmas is dedicated to “being the gift,” as the University articulated a message of thanksgiving and compassion to the community and encouraged Lasallians to brighten the holiday festivities with love and warmth. 

Spreading a warm Lasallian Christmas

Christmas merriment started the minute Lasallians were welcomed to the cheery sight of the Cory Aquino Democratic Space that day. As they slowly seated themselves in front of the stage, the crowd gazed at the 52-foot-tall Christmas tree adorned with parols waiting to be illuminated. 

The festivities began with a Eucharistic celebration officiated by Fr. Luis Lorenzo LC who imparted a message that amplified this year’s theme of love. After, University President Br. Bernard Oca FSC welcomed the community with an advent message that centered on Christ’s selfless love and compassion within everyone’s hearts. “We celebrate the spirit of working together, making sacrifices together to make De La Salle a place where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to achieve our full potential,” he expressed. 

A talent competition followed as the hosts geared up the audience for the entertainment segment of the night. Representing the undergraduate student body, Ley La Salle serenaded the crowd with their acoustic medley of classic Christmas songs that showcased OPM Christmas hits such as Tuloy na Tuloy Pa Rin by Apo Hiking Society, Bibingka by Ben&Ben, and Christmas carol Silent Night

Meanwhile, in their Christmas-themed getups, the DLSU – Parents of University Students Organization (PUSO) treated the crowd with an upbeat dance to famous remix jingles. Defending their win from last year’s talent show, the DLSU External Services Providers (ESP) provided another winning performance with an advocacy-driven short skit that portrayed how the gift of toys knows no gender. A colorful dance piece followed the heartwarming act and they finished off with a surprise by striking their last pose within a large Christmas gift box.

The ESP ensemble emerged victorious from the competition yet again, while the performers from DLSU PUSO and the undergraduate students placed second and third, respectively. Jamille Briones, a janitorial ESP and a performer from the winning group, emphasized inclusive and unconditional love as the core of their dance’s message of embracing gender inclusivity. 

Kahit anong kasarian ang meron tayo, kung totoo at bukal sa puso natin yung pagmamahal, sobrang espesyal po ‘nun,” Briones exclaimed. Lalo na sa panahon natin na ang daming diskriminasyon, ang daming mga pamilyang nagaaway-away, nakakalimutan po nila yung pagmamahal na nabuo nila.” This love, she realized, is important for people to truly spread the Animo spirit of Christmas.

(Regardless of gender, what remains special is our true and genuine love. Especially amid discrimination and family quarrels, people tend to forget the love they formed with one another.) 

Radiating the Animo holiday spirit

Striding the Cory Aquino Democratic Space with warm hellos was Br. Richie Yap FSC, who greeted the smiles of each and every Lasallian—his favorite intimate joy as the season of giving tiptoed into our doors. As the Animo Christmas! 2023 program moved forward, Br. Richie imparted with The LaSallian a message to the community: “Lasallians should be able to make themselves a gift to their friends, a gift to their family, [and] a gift to the people around them, especially to those who cannot do anything for them.”

The event culminated with the annual traditional lighting of the campus. Filled with the exhilarated voices of Lasallians, the countdown led to the glorious illumination of the University’s Christmas tree, painted with pops and patterns from an array of traditional Filipino parols. Strings of warm lights and star lanterns also beamed off from the walls and trees of the campus.

An open present, the yuletide glow was not only gifted to the Lasallian community but also to the eyes of Taft Ave. as a light-and-sound display cascaded upon the façade of St. La Salle Hall. Shortly after the tree lighting, the resounding tunes of the season played through the night while radiant hues danced before the façade of the historic building. 

With the classic tunes of Star ng Pasko by ABS-CBN, Last Christmas by Ariana Grande, and Mariah Carey’s remixed version of All I Want for Christmas is You featuring Justin Bieber,  continuous melodies quavered from the unison of chants and performances of DLSU Chorale and Innersoul. As the crowd came along in chorus with claps and cheering, Animo Christmas! 2023 set a model for being the gift as the school provided free meals and beverages for the Lasallian community. 

Jingle bells in Biñan 

Meanwhile, in the Laguna Campus, a familiar Christmas jingle rang among the tightly-knit Lasallian community with their own similarly styled Christmas tree lighting along the Milagros R. Del Rosario (MRR) Main Road. The angelic voices of Koro Lasalyano, DLSU Integrated School’s official student choir in Laguna, heralded the beginning of the holiday season.

Vice President Jonathan Dungca opened the night with a warm message to his constituents. “Our theme, ‘pagmamahalan’, I think it’s not new to the Laguna Campus,” he explained. “The reason why we came here, the reason why we are staying here, and the reason why we are planning to stay here longer is because we love De La Salle University and we love [the] Laguna Campus.”

The Canlubang campus’ lighting was also preceded by a talent contest where members of the  campus faculty and services showcased their festive song and dance routines. The Junior High School faculty won first place with their performance “Parol ng Pamilya,” which featured short vignettes of Filipino Christmas accompanied by a dance to ABS-CBN’s 2021 Christmas Station ID Andito Tayo Para Sa Isa’t Isa. Faculty from the Student Affairs Office and health workers from the Health Services unit nabbed the second and third prizes, respectively. 

But the talent show participants were not the only ones who scored prizes that night. Attendees were treated to a mini raffle, where 25 lucky people won prizes. In the scheme of keeping the excitement high, a grand raffle was also conducted; 10 grand winners either received free appliances or tickets to the amusement park Enchanted Kingdom.

After the main event, the Lasallian community was invited to an aftershow salu-salo that provided guests with free meals and gulaman. The night was capped off by the honeyed voices and lively beats of Senior High School student band The Rubber Ducks, as they played before the crowd of the MRR Building.

In Manila and Biñan, Animo Christmas! 2023 made two things clear as the Lasallian community entered December: there are people to be gifted in different and intimate ways, and more often than not, the present is another person’s presence alone. 

Through the warm tunes and red tinges of ornaments, Lasallians celebrated something bigger than a day—a community with their heartstrings tied in the spirit of St. La Salle. Bow-tied and softly lit, Animo Christmas! 2023 made its witnesses gifts and givers for seasons to come.

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