GIANT LANTERN FESTIVAL

19 Dec 2009 Ron Soliman In Photojournalism

While visiting family in my birth town in Pampanga, Philippines I got the chance to witness the 101st year celebration of the Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul). Below is a little history of this annual festival, which is held few days before Christmas:

The Giant Lantern Festival is an annual festival held in December (Saturday before Christmas Eve) in the CITY OF SAN FERNANDO in the PHILIPPINES. The festival features a competition of giant lanterns. Because of the popularity of the festival, the city has been nicknamed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”.

The first lantern festival was held to honor PRESIDENT MANUEL L. QUEZON. At that time, Quezon made ARAYAT his rest area and converted MOUNT ARAYAT into a tourist resort. As a show of gratitude to Quezon, the people of San Fernando held a Christmas lantern contest to honor the first family. Quezon himself donated the prize for his lantern contest, which was personally awarded to the winner by First Lady AURORA ARAGON QUEZON.

In the years that followed, more innovations were introduced to the giant lanterns. Colored plastics replaced traditional papel de hapon. Large steel barrels called rotors also substituted the hand-controlled switches to manipulate the lights. And lanterns have grown in size, approximately 20-feet today, and illuminated by about 3,500 to 5,000 light bulbs.