One of the most wonderful and very Filipino symbols of Christmas is the parol (Christmas Lantern). Kapampangans are known for their artistry and craftsmanship in creating parols. Finally, after a two-year restriction brought about by the Covid19 pandemic, the Giant Lantern Festival is back again.
On the 17th of December, at the Robinsons Starmills in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga the festival continued its amazing visual wonder. There were a total of 10 barangays that participated in the Giant Lantern Festival or Ligligan Parul in Kapampangan. Indeed, the event exceeded expectations as the best of Pampanga’s lantern makers gave their all.
Thousands of Kapampangans and local tourists were simply in awe as the 10 gigantic parols lay glittering and magnificent, trying to outdo each other on the cold Christmas night. This was also broadcasted live via the regional television network CLTV36 and various social media platforms.
How Ligligan Parul was much missed
Kaleidoscopic patterns seemed to dance of their own volition to the beat of live Christmas songs. Colours simply poured out to each spectator on site. The participating barangays were Bulaon, Calulut, Del Pilar, Dolores, Pandaras, San Juan, San Nicolas, Sta. Lucia, Sto. Niño and Telabastagan proved that Pampanga deserves the title of “Home of Giant Lanterns” and the distinction as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”
Ruperto dela Rosa travelled from Iba, Zambales with his family for the event and exclaimed, “This is really amazing. No one can dispute that this is the best festival in the region.”
Kapampangan hailing from Sta. Ana, Jenny Panganiban gushed, “it is really exciting to see the actual huge brightly-coloured lanterns which we had missed for the past two years. Each lantern is designed with intricate and unique patterns that you can only find in the province.”
Overseas Filipino worker, Janet Sandoval admitted this is her first time seeing the Giant Lantern Festival saying, “This is really different. I do miss Filipino Christmas traditions such as this,” she said.
From Barangay Dolores, Rea Katherine Mendoza shares that the festival symbolizes the resiliency of Kapampangans adding, “I am proud to be (a) Kapampangan. The Giant Lantern Festival is part of our tradition that we would not let it die despite the many challenges,” she said.
Winner, Prizes and further plans
The Grand Prize winner of this year’s festival is Barangay San Juan bringing home PHP 300,000.
The first runner-up was Barangay Telabastagan brought home PHP200,000 as a cash prize and the second runner-up was Barangay Sta. Lucia won PHP100,000 for their entry.
The giant lanterns will continue to be on display at the Robinsons Starmills Pampanga from Dec. 15-23, 25-30 and Jan. 1. On the 24th of December, they will be on exhibit at Poblacion, Barangay Sto. Rosario and following that they will be transferred to the Marquee Mall on Dec. 29-30.
San Fernando Mayor Vilma Caluag expressed, “As we preserve our brand of being the Christmas capital of the Philippines, the city government will continuously support our lantern makers and the whole industry.”
The tradition lives on and every Filipino holds this near their heart. The gigantic, electronic parul sempernandu will be back again next year and will do so for generations to come.
Amazing to have the Parols back in Pampanga. Makes one proud and believe in the wonder of Christmas. Hopefully, these vibes drive out the last of the pandemic jitters permanently. Let us know what your favourite Christmas events are folks! Just comment down below and cheers!