October 31, 2018

Everyone’s Invited! Come and Celebrate San Fernando Pampanga’s 110th Giant Lantern Festival this December 15!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Who here loves Christmas? As a Filipino, who’s a group of people who celebrates Christmas for months, I used to not like Christmas because a few years back it was one of the most painful time for me and my family when we lost one of our family members a day after Christmas. I remember during that time, we weren’t so excited about it because my uncle, who’s the nicest of them all, was battling a disease and was in the hospital during the Christmas week. He succumb to his disease a little past midnight of Christmas day. 

Still years after that, I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas because of the painful memories it only brings. But I know, my uncle doesn’t want me or us to be unhappy especially that this season is a celebration of love and giving. He was someone who’s full of love and a generous person as well. As the years go by, I started regaining my love for Christmas knowing my uncle is with the Lord and that this time of the year is also a time to celebrate him as well. From then on, Christmas excites me and always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Whatever one’s belief is, Christmas in the Philippines is a tradition more than a religious belief. It’s the time of the year where there’s tad too many parties or gatherings. We make time to meet and catch up with our families and friends that we don’t see on a regular basis. I don’t know about you, but for many, this season brings joy, love and the spirit of giving to the forefront. Which truly delights the heart and soul, unless you’re Grinch hahaha!

I’d like to believe, like many people do, that the Philippines is the Christmas capital of the world. Like who else celebrates Christmas for more than four months? It starts once the “ber months” hit the calendar and end until January to February (Three Kings Celebration). In the Philippines, Pampanga, particularly the city of San Fernando, is hailed as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. This is because of the “Parol” or Christmas Lantern

The parol of star lantern is perhaps the paramount Filipino Christmas symbol - colorful, crafted with love and aglow with the spirit of the season. The Christmas lantern or Parul Sampernandu in Kapampangan can never be distanced from the town which created it, the City of San Fernando. It is what San Fernando is known for. And it is what has made the city famous all over the country and even around the world. Below is a video narrating the history of the tradition of handcrafting Christmas lanterns in San Fernando, Pampanga:

This year is the celebration of the 110th Year of the Giant Lantern Making in San Fernando. In line with this, the City Government of San Fernando (Tourism Promotion and Caravan Sub Committee) together with the Giant Lantern Festival Foundation Inc., Yalla Book of Coupons and San Fernando Lantern Makers Association organized a Giant Lantern Festival Bloggers Tour last October 27, 2018 which I got to participate in. With this event, Manila-based bloggers like myself, were able to visit and experience San Fernando through food, and seeing first-hand the lantern-making facilities and heritage sites of the city. 

For this post, I will relate about the “star” of this visit to San Fernando which is the Giant Lantern. We visited two sites where the giant lanterns are being built from scratch to magnificent and towering light structures. Our first stop was RolRen’s Lantern Factory and General Merchandise in Barangay Del Pilar which is owned by master lantern maker Roland Quiambao


Mr. Quiambao told us a brief history of lantern-making in San Fernando and of his business. He is also part of the barangay that has won consecutive years during the annual Giant Lantern Festivals. His works have been featured in major places and events in the Philippines and worldwide including Saipan, Korea, Guam, Taiwan and Palau. 

He also demonstrated to us the parts of the giant lantern: The middle portion called the tambor, the inner core of the giant lantern which resembles a musical drum because of its round shape. Next to the tambor is the siku-siku which are the star-like shapes and named after the way the star’s corners resemble bent elbows. After that is the palimbun or outer circle which is a Kapampangan term for “procession” that Kapampangans participate in which circles the town and end up at the cathedral. And lastly is the puntetas or trimmings. 

Mr. Quiambao also showed us how a mechanical lantern lights up inside his showroom. Up until now the giant lanterns exhibited in the yearly shows are run through this way. But since times has evolved and they have to catch up with technology, those lanterns that they produce for other places and companies are now computerized. Though that may be the case, he assured us that the core and heart of the Giant Lantern making is still incorporated in all of his and other lantern producers in the city’s creations.

We also got a sneak peek of making the giant lantern of Barangay San Jose. The giant lantern entry of Barangay San Jose, is designed and spear-headed by the Ambrosio Family and Mary Anne Torres, the first and only female leader in this year’s competition. Girl power woo-hoo! San Jose’s Giant Lantern is around 20 feet high and will house 10,000 light bulbs some of these are hand painted to achieve the color that they want. Beside it are huge rotors as well which will be the mechanism to be used to create the choreographed blinking of the lantern’s lights. Barangay San Jose’s last win in the Giant Lantern Festival was in 1991. Their winning piece was later displayed during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. I stood before it and I felt so humble by its size and the hard-work and teamwork behind it. It is something to revel at, in my most honest opinion. 

I usually collect ref magnets from places that I visit, but for this occasion, I bought the smallest I could find inside RolRen’s shop to bring home and as an early Christmas gift to my mother. Later that day, each of the bloggers who participated in the tour also received “mini” lanterns courtesy of the Lantern Makers Association of San Fernando. I was able to bring home two beautiful lanterns to light up our house and I couldn’t be any happier!

On December 15, 2018, 11 barangays will participate in the 110th Giant Lantern Festival which will be held at Robinsons Starmills Pampanga. During the event you will witness the display of tradition, artistry and hard work of Kapampangan lantern-makers. There are accredited ticketing places where you can get your tickets to witness this year’s Giant Lantern festivities. I will list down below where you can get more information for this upcoming event. Also here’s a photo for the schedule of activities: 

Good luck to the participating barangays and thank you very much for having us in your city and for the wonderful experience City of San Fernando, Pampanga (Tourism Promotion and Caravan Sub Committee) Giant Lantern Festival Foundation Inc., Yalla Book of Coupons and San Fernando Lantern Makers Association. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and may your hearts always be filled with love, joy and generosity all year round!

Check these links for more info and how you can avail of tickets for the festival:
- RolRen’s Lantern Factory and General Merchandise
1142 11th Ave., Unisite Subdivision, Del Pilar, 
San Fernando, Pampanga
045-963-1710, 0922-8565621,
0922-8216959, 0932-8530272

Pampanga 2018 Travel Diary:
Everyone’s Invited! Come and Celebrate San Fernando Pampanga’s 110th Giant Lantern Festival this December 15!
Epic Pampanga Food Crawl: 7 Places to Fill Your Tummy When in San Fernando
San Fernando Old Train Station and Heritage Tour

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this blog post! I am thinking of visiting the Lantern Festival this Christmas and I was wondering what time the exhibitions finish each day? I would be so grateful for your reply :)


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