The University of the Philippines Diliman marked the beginning of its annual Christmas celebration with a virtual Pag-iilaw ceremony held on Friday, Dec. 3.
With the theme “Ugnayan at Pagpupugay: Tulay ng Buhay at Pag-asa Ngayong Pandemya,” the two-hour program paid tribute to the UP community’s contributions to the country’s pandemic response.
Renowned artist Toym Imao’s installation art entitled Sambabaylaan was a central figure in the ceremonious event. According to him, the name Sambabaylaan comes from the words samba or to worship, sambayanan or nation, laan or to consecrate, and babaylan, a female shaman.
Like the babaylan, Imao said that the installation symbolizes the University’s role as a healer and counsel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ang unibersidad ay naglaan ng ugnayan para sa paghilom at nagsilbing gabay para sa sambayanan sa gitna ng pandemya,” the University’s post read. “Ang unibersidad ay isang konsegradong dambana ng katotohanan, isang komunidad na sumasamba sa mga prinsipyo ng demokrasya at karapatang pantao.”
As in previous years, Imao adds that the installation also serves as a social commentary on issues presently faced by the country. He said that just like the babaylan, the upcoming 2022 elections calls for leaders who could serve as both counsels and leaders.
“Ito’y isang paalala na pumili tayo ng isang leader na may talino at kakayahan, puso to deliver us from this pandemic,” he said.
Gunita at Alaala
According to the University, this year’s Pag-iilaw aims to honor the memories of loved ones who have died amid the pandemic.
“Minimithi rin ng programang ito na mahanap natin ang lungtiang sibol at gintong talà sa kalangitan bilang simbolo ng pag-asa at liwanag sa gitna ng kadiliman,” it said.
The program began with a solemn tribute led by UP Diliman Vice Chancellors in honor of members of the UP community who have passed away since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, both due to COVID-19 and other causes.
Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Aleli Bawagan formally opened the program. Unlike the previous year, she said, this year’s Pag-iilaw features live performances from the Diliman campus instead of being fully virtual. This comes after the number of COVID-19 cases in the country have started to go down.
She added that this year’s installation art will also be placed at various “satellite” areas that have served a significant purpose during the pandemic.
This includes the University Health Service, the Philippine Genome Center, quarantine facilities at the Molave and Kamia Residence Halls, as well as the College of Human Kinetics Gym which serves as the inoculation site for Bakunahan sa Diliman, UP Diliman’s vaccination drive.
Installations along University Avenue were also lit up along with “nagdidiwata” lanterns around the campus. Imao said that this depicts a diwata or a Filipino fairy dancing around the lamp posts.
Program host OJ Serquiña invited the virtual audience to view the University’s colorful display on campus, but reminded visitors to strictly adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.
The UP Diliman Academic Oval was officially opened to the public on Nov. 15.
He added that there will also be more events following Pag-iilaw 2021, including this year’s virtual open mic to be held on Dec. 10 at 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. DZUP