Giant Lantern Festival, Pampanga, Philippines

December 22, 2012 by  

Giant Lantern Festival, Pampanga, Philippines, The biggest and most popular Christmas celebration in the Philippines is in San Fernando, Pampanga. This is the Giant Lantern Festival, which is an annual event and held every third Saturday of December. This year, it will be today at 6 p.m. at the Robinsons Starmills near San Fernando Exit of the North Expressway.

Also called “Ligligan Parul,” the much-awaited event centers on a competition that has been a showcase of the 104-year-old tradition of lantern making in the city. The festival attracts thousands of tourists, both local and foreign, to an evening of kaleidoscopic displays of light and color from giant Christmas lanterns produced by craftsmen from San Fernando’s barangays aiming for the coveted “best lantern” award.

Since 2008, Robinsons Starmills Mall has played host to the annual Giant Lantern Festival organized by the San Fernando City Government.

Based from the oral accounts of the Estanislao-David-Quiwa family, lantern making started in Santa Lucia, San Fernando Pampanga with Francisco Estanislao as the acknowledged pioneer. Initially, the lanterns were created from bamboo and local materials. Battery-operated lanterns were eventually used in the 1940s. In 1950, molding of steel wire as frame was introduced by Mario Datu and Susing Manalang. The Rotor System was said to have invented by Rodolfo David in 1957, using steel drums to which electrical wires were attached using hair pins – a takeoff from the use of switchboards to control the interlplay of lights and music. With this invention, Bgy. Sta. Lucia was declared champion of the lantern making festival between 1957-1959 as well as in 1962, under the tutelage of lantern-maker Rodolfo David. During this period, he was able to produce a new lantern design that defined “parul sampernandu.” In 1964, The San Fernando lanterns became available for sale to the public, giving rise to the commercial lantern industry.

With this, the Giant Lantern Festival evolved from a simple event to a grand celebration, through the unwavering support of the local government of San Fernando and the Department of Tourism. Subsidies were given to participating barangays beginning in 1982 in the amount of P5,000, reaching up to P120,000 to date. Beginning from 1990, the event was held at various venues such as the Paskuhan Village, Bren Z. Guiao Complex, SM City Pampanga Amphitheater and now in most recent years at Robinsons Starmills Pampanga.

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