UPAAT’s First Virtual Holiday Party: Ingenious activities with messages of hope and faith

by: Gretchen Mangahas


Despite the limitations of not being together physically and sharing a room embellished with the usual decorations and sumptuous food, more than 40 UPAAT members gathered on Zoom to celebrate Christmas for thanksgiving and bonding. The yearly salo-salo event was transformed into a home-based virtual party experience with raffle, games and songs. This party, which was held on December 19, 2020 and lasted for over 2 hours, was successfully organized and led by the Socials and Events Committee headed by Diana Roldan.




Secret Santa and BINGO!


A Secret Santa food delivery and a virtual BINGO session were held as a prelude to the Holiday Party. Instead of gift exchange, food on the wish lists of participants of the Secret Santa were delivered to recipients based on a random matching done by the Socials and Events Committee led by Carissa Vicencio, Diana Roldan and Kim Salvador. Food apps like UberEats, Door Dash and Skip the Dishes were used for the deliveries.


Food delivered by Secret Santa Sharon Palmato to Elf Marie Shelley Saracin


After the meals, UPAAT President Alice Bustamante called out the lucky numbers at the virtual BINGO organized by the Fundraising Committee led by Anna Florence Ponce de Leon and Tess Michelle Montojo. Four winners had to type in “BINGO!” on the Zoom Chat box to identify who won first. After card verifications, the winners received $30 each courtesy of donor Marie Zyrna Masongsong.



BINGO players waited for their numbers to be called out to complete the X,M,A,S card combinations


The Main Event


Jolly Filipino Christmas songs greeted UPAAT members and their families upon entering the Virtual Christmas Holiday Party hosted by Council Member Natalie Wong. The atmosphere of this large gathering filled with songs and photo-taking, albeit in a virtual setting, is reminiscent of the Filipino family Pasko Tradition for many of those who joined. Even without the bountiful food on the table, members were treated to fun-filled activities transcending the barriers of digital screens.


The party was opened with an angelic prayer rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Ryeanna Ponce de Leon followed by Alice Bustamante’s welcome remarks where she provided a brief overview of UPAAT’s accomplishments and a hopeful vision for the association next year.


Raffle for fundraising


The party jumped right into the Raffle draw where winners received prizes from benevolent donors including: UP T-shirts (UPAAT), Mama Sita Gift Packs (Maria Roseni Alvero), Black and Decker 12-Cup Coffee-maker (Anna Florence Ponce de Leon), UP sablay (Alice Bustamante), LBC Free Cargo deliveries (Rafael Policarpio), Movie Ticket (Francis Rementilla), Niagara wine and Honda cap (Joseph Redoblado), Free one-hour massage or facial (Rissa Wycoco), jewelry (UPAAT), Painting (Estelita Chan) and a $250 prepaid Visa Card (Vicky Santiago).


All proceeds from the raffle tickets will go towards the implementation of UPAAT Projects for beneficiaries based on newly proposed fundraising projects aimed at widening the service reach of UPAAT.


Bring Me!


Shelley Saracin, Rissa Wycoco and Helen Chua of the Socials and Events Committee stirred excitement and challenge among members with their Bring Me games. Participants hurried to bring and show through their cameras any one of the twenty items on the Bring Me list such as: the most number of One Peso coins, the smallest Christmas Tree while singing Pasko Na Naman, a UP diploma while singing the first few lines of UP Naming Mahal, and a Parol while showing the goofiest smile on Zoom.



Lita and Joe Zagala show their book on Rizal as part of the Bring Me games in commemoration of Rizal Day held on December 30.


Community singing and the story of Pasko na Sinta Ko


Livvy Camacho, Chorus Master and Lead of the chorale group Pamana, candidly led the community singing of Filipino and English songs. Despite technological lags in centralizing the harmony from members who were singing individually from their homes, songs clearly gave messages of love and joy.


The heartwarming story behind the famous Pasko na Sinta Ko was narrated by Fred Gutierrez who is the central character in the song’s storyline. The song originated from his real life story of finding love and hoping that at Christmas, he would be with his loved one. The UP Concert Chorus debuted the song at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and was later on popularized by Filipino singer Gary Valenciano.


UPAAT Clicks winners declared


Winners of the first Virtual Photography Contest were announced after more than a month of activities for the event. Velika Masongsong won first place in the Judge’s Choice category while Marie Rusela Abis bagged the People’s Choice award with the most number of likes on the UPAAT Clicks Autumn Gallery.


Over 100 photos were submitted by participants capturing the beauty of autumn. served as a reflective moment and a time to reconnect with nature for most participants. It also became a venue for social interaction and connection among the UPAAT members. Checked out the photos on the UPAAT Clicks Facebook Group and a full story on the UPAAT website.


Arriane Chung, one of the lead organizers of the UPAAT Clicks announces the First Place winner of the Judge’s Choice Category.


A season of hope


Culminating with a community singing, UPAAT’s Virtual Holiday Party is the first of and is one of a kind. It brought families together reminding everyone that life must go on as everyone adapts to changes around us. Challenges ahead will be faced with hope and faith in the strength of being together.