Sta. Rita displays eco-friendly ‘belens’ on first dawn mass

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Monday, December 16, 2013

STA. RITA — Some 10 belens or nativity scenes (manger scene or crib) made of eco-friendly and recycled materials are now on display in front of the Sta. Rita Parish Church here, signaling the start of the nine-day dawn novena masses or Misa de Gallo.

Mayor Yolanda Pineda said the scenes are a project of the Municipal Government of Sta. Rita and the respective barangays of the town.

The belens were set depicting the birth of Jesus Christ complete with other characters with the use of leaves, fruits, hay and other recyclable materials.

“We would like to inspire among our people that creative spirit and that Christmas decorations need not be expensive. People can in fact use things from their surroundings to spread Christmas cheer,” Pineda said, adding that the participants will be given incentives on their creativity.

The event is part of the 5th Suman Festival here that featured some 10 stalls from the town's 10 barangays featuring the different suman flavors. The "suman titili" is a Christmas delicacy here made from lacatan rice, cooked coconut milk, sugar, and wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed until firm. The suman is wrapped in banana leaves of the "saging butulan" variety that gives the delicacy a more aromatic flavor.

Unlike most festivals, the Suman Festival will start during the traditional dawn mass with lyre bands and a parade.

In the previous two years, the festival also featured the Cadena de Suman, the longest suman delicacy. However, for this year, organizers have introduced a competition for the tastiest suman. Pineda said they have encouraged barangays to send in their best flavored-suman.

She said barangays here have their own versions of suman with families having infused their own signature flavors into the delicacy. The festival is also seen as an opportunity to promote Sta. Rita’s delicacy industry and its strong confectionary traditions.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on December 17, 2013.

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