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Giant Lanterns to Light Up Again in Pampanga

PAMPANGA—11 barangays will be joining this year’s Giant Lantern Festival; an annual Christmas competition in the City of San Fernando featuring 12-foot tall lanterns made by the locals.

The organizers of the Giant Lantern Festival announced that there will be 11 participants in the 107thGiant Lantern Festival which will take place on December 19, 2015 at the Robinson’s Starmills in the City of San Fernando.

Every year, thousands of locals and tourists alike visit the City of San Fernando to witness this one-of-a-kind Christmas spectacle. These gigantic lanterns lit by no less than 10,000 light bulbs dances to the tune of Christmas carols that leaves everyone in awe.

According to the organizers of the event, the Giant Lantern Festival is a testament of the bayanihan spirit that still lives amongst the Kapampangans who take part of the event. That’s because even though an amount to create lanterns are subsidized by the local government, the lantern makers and electricians of each barangay work together to create a giant lantern to represent their community. Other residents provide food and other materials for the workers of the lanterns as their way of contributing to their barangay’s lantern.

It is believed that the giant lanterns seen today originated from the parol (farol in Spanish), which means light. The parol that represents the Star of Bethlehem were used during the “Lubenas”, a religious procession that takes place every night starting on the 9th day before Christmas. From a simple five pointed star made out of indigenous materials, such as cheese cloth and bamboo sticks, the parol has evolved overtime.

In San Fernando, even the shape and size of the parols grew to 12-foot giant lanterns. Even the electrical wirings that lights up the parol started to become complicated. Today, the thousands of light bulbs that make up the giant lanterns are operated by rotors, a steel drum that is connected to each part of the lantern.

The Giant Lantern Festival competition however, is believed to have started to thank and honor the arrival of then the Philippines’ first lady, Aurora Aragon Quezon who visited the town of Arayat. Since then, the competition has been held annually and is now at its 107th year.

Because the Kapampangans were able to master their craft of building lanterns, their works were already displayed in different parts of the world such as Australia, Austria, Ireland, and different parts of Asia.

The Giant Lantern Festival this year is seen to be bigger and brighter than the previous competitions with more barangays joining in the competition and thousands of people wanting to witness this event at the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.

Find Lantern makers in Pampanga

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