By TRISHA TAMIO and ZOE AIRABELLE AGUINALDO
FOR THE first time in two years, Agape – an event that gathers Thomasians as one family to share free food – will light the way back toward the much anticipated Paskuhan festivities.
With the return of Agape in person, The Flame is providing tips to newcomers to help them enjoy the feast .
A – Arrive an hour early
Missing out on one of the University’s most awaited events and activities is the last thing a Thomasian wants. Pharmacy freshman Athessa Lacerna suggested arriving “an hour early” to avoid this situation.
“We should arrive early so we don’t miss out on anything, especially for newcomers like me. Maybe an hour early would be fine,” Lacerna said.
Information technology senior Ryan Lopez shared Lacerna’s sentiment on arriving at the campus before the event starts, citing his experience in 2019.
“We all immediately lined up to get our food after class…For first-time goers, I recommend going early for the free food,” he said.
Creative writing senior Gabbi Galang reminded students to be patient and not to cut in line when queuing for food.
“Everyone is just as excited to eat…Don’t ruin the magic of Agape to fellow first-timers and those who [have] already experienced it before,” Galang said.
Arriving early will also allow Thomasians to join student organization activities held throughout the day. Galang said that doing so would boost students’ “Christmas spirits.”
G – Gather your ID, stub, and ThOMedSS clearance in advance
To comply with the University’s “no ID, no QR code, no entry” policy, Thomasians should store the required documents in one accessible place, creative writing freshman Earl Quintana said.
“Make sure your items are easily accessible to you…Also make sure your bag is easy to distinguish, as well as your items so when lost, you may find them,” he said.
Preparing the needed documents at least one night before the event is also advisable, according to Lacerna.
“I recommend packing things as early as the night before so that nothing gets forgotten, especially the stub and ID. I also fill out my ThOMedSS on the way to school so there’s no fuss upon entering,” she said.
A – Acquaint yourself with the entry points and food stalls
UST designated a respective dining area and food stall for each college. Quintana said knowing these ahead of time may reduce the students’ stress.
“One thing I do in order to mitigate my anxiety about social events such as [Agape] is to scope out the area before the event itself,” Quintana said.
Galang advised Thomasians to agree on a meetup location in advance as the anticipated number of attendees may affect the signal reception of cell phones inside the campus.
“You’re also most likely going to lose your friends in the crowd…It may be harder to contact your friends too, so I advise first-timers to decide which area you plan to hang out and eat with your friends,” Galang said.
P – Prepare essentials, including an emergency kit
Thomasians are reminded to prioritize their health as the country is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 essentials are still a must nowadays as well as a small emergency kit, just in case something happens or someone happens to need something, I could lend them a power bank, extra band-aids/pads, or over-the-counter medicines,” Lacerna said.
Aside from rubbing alcohol, Galang said wipes are a must. “You might also want to eat in the field and it gets dirty there, so [bring] wipes really,” she added.
Quintana also recommended bringing an extra shirt and a small towel.
He also suggested bringing a cap as a shield from the heat and an umbrella in case it rains.
Tourism freshman Sharmina Cayanan echoed this, noting that España is prone to floods.
Lacerna recommended bringing your own small food container, utensils, and water bottle to reduce unnecessary waste. Galang, meanwhile, suggested bringing sandwich bags for leftovers, packing lightly and using a tote bag.
E – Enjoy
Thomasians advised attendees to enjoy the magic of the University’s Paskuhan season through food, live music, and the opening of lights.
“Fourth year students have only ever experienced [Agape] once, so don’t take the opportunity for granted,” Galang said.
“It’s our University’s way of telling us to put down our academic stresses for a while and just have fun,” she added.
Pharmacy sophomore Alfred Nacorda shared the same view: “After its two-year slumber, it’s truly a sight to see. Don’t wait another year for you to see the grandeur display of lights with your friends.:
Cayanan said the unpleasant experiences during the height of the pandemic should make the Agape and Paskuhan more enjoyable.
“For almost two years of being under quarantine and pandemic restrictions, pulling all-nighters every night, going to discord just to talk to our friends, the draining feeling we felt at night after an exhausting day, we deserve to enjoy a night with our friends and experience the beauty of our school physically,” Cayanan said. F