Alam mo ba?

A giant lantern rises in San Fernando’s lantern festival. Photo by Robin Pinzon

Christmas, a public international holiday that is celebrated by many religious and non-religious groups. Especially the Christians,  where the church commemorates the birth of the Messiah and observes the story of the holy family’s journey to the humble manger.

Among the most populated Christian countries there is, one is found in the Philippines which has 90.1% christian community. It is said that Filipinos celebrate Christmas the longest, because even if it’s just September they’re already counting down the days until the clock strikes twelve of the day of The Nativity.

As they observe this practice, they put decorations in their homes to make it as welcome to the celebration as they can. Each intricacies of the decoration holds a meaning that pertains to their religious beliefs. One of which is the lantern that symbolizes the star that had guided the three kings to the newly born Messiah.

From the grandeur of the Filipinos in celebrating Christmas, it prompted the famous giant lantern festival in San Fernando, Pampanga—also called the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”.

The Fernandinos(San Fernando locals) have been crafting lanterns, or ‘parol’ since time immemorial and have been passing it’s talent from generation to generation. It started as “Ligligan Parul”(Lantern Competition) up until the town had developed enough for electricity to be accessible that they have replaced traditional paper, rice paste, and bamboo frame to: light bulbs, steel frame, wires, and modern ingenuity. Back then, it started out as a 2ft in diameter lantern that evolved into a 20ft illuminating giant. Now attracting people from many parts of the world that led to national broadcast making it official that it is part of the filipino Christmas culture—not just in the expressive town of San Fernando—and to welcome anyone who wants to experience it in live performance. 

Despite the pandemic still on the move, there’s no saying that we would get to have one this year. One thing is for sure is that this will never take away our spirit in the upcoming holiday. We may be far apart but as the star of hope illuminates among the sky, we will always have the hope that it will get better.

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