Along with a medley of Christmas beats and songs, festive lights in gold, blue, green, and red among others, frantically danced along the music through larger than life lanterns.
Like the bright star that shone to guide the kings on the night of Christmas, the giant lanterns of San Fernando illuminated the dark night at Robinsons Starmills, Pampanga, where a crowd hundreds of thousands watched how all the lanterns merrily twinkled.
This is the yearly scene at Robinsons Starmills, the host of the famed annual Giant Lantern Festival—a long held tradition that San Fernandinos are proud of.
The festival’s highlight, the Giant Lantern Competition held last Dec. 17 concluded with a momentous event as Barangay Dolores was hailed as the champion for this year.
For three consecutive years now, Barangay Dolores has emerged as the champion of the most-awaited competition, earning them the prestige of being included in the roster of the festival’s Hall of Fame awardees.
On the other hand, Barangay Calulut got the First Place while Barangay Sindalan earned the Second Place. Other competing barangays include Sta Lucia, Telebastagan, Sto. Niño, San Nicolas, San Jose, San Juan, and Del Pilar.
Along with San Fernandinos and hundreds of local and foreign tourists who traveled to the city to witness the festive spectacle, local officials also attended the event. Among them were former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, Congressman Dong Gonzales, Mayor Edwin Santiago, and Vice Mayor Jimmy Lazatin.
Lanterns as reflection of a San Fernandino
Festive, loud, big. This is how the San Fernandinos of Pampanga are known to celebrate their Christmas through the festival.
According to Jim Jimenez, Chairman of the 2016 Giant Lantern Festival executive committee, these giant lanterns reflects the identity of a San Fernandino.
“This is the culture embedded in lantern-making. The parol maker puts his identity and soul into his craftsmanship. These artisans are the Fernandinos who are bold, audacious, big, flashy, and loud just like the parol because that is the representation of themselves. That is their trait and that’s what they do in their parols,” Jimenez told InterAksyon.
A tradition unique to San Fernandinos, Mayor Santiago noted that the festival is a reflection of the talent and ingenuity of their parol-makers. He said that the festival is an important event that boosts the tourism and trade activity in San Fernando.