THE University of the Assumption (UA) takes pride in being the first archdiocesan Catholic university in Asia and this venerable institution is back on spotlight as it staged the first ever National Conference on Lantern Studies on November 20.
Two years ago, UA through its Research and Development Office, received a grant from the Department of Science and Technology and the CSFP Giant Lantern Festival Foundation (GLFFI) to develop a prototype for cost-efficient sequencers for commercial giant lanterns and is set to unveil its output for this project during the KapaskUAn king UA this December 10.
The university is also at the forefront of developing the training module for the basic lantern making training which the City Government and GLFFI has implemented in hopes that this will set the training standards for the whole country in the future.
These research achievements, together with the strong lantern making legacy within the university, has placed UA as the premiere academic institution that highlights lantern studies.
It counts as its alumni some of the best lantern makers of their generation, from Roland Quiambao to fifth generation lantern makers Eric and Arvin Quiwa, to the youngest giant lantern maker Mark Nino Flores, who collaborated with the university, for the groundbreaking sequencer research.
It is but fitting that the university was able to stage the Lantern Studies Conference with the indefatigable efforts of Roilingel Calilung, who is currently the Director of Libraries, and Dr. Arnel Sicat who presently heads the Research Office.
The conference brought together a veritable powerhouse of experts who presented papers that tackle multidisciplinary perspectives on the lantern tradition and industry.
Kapampangan anthropologist Dr. Dominique Juntado presented highlights from her dissertation on the political culture of Giant Lanterns while Raphael Kalaw of the University of Santo Tomas shared his research on the documentation of the Giant Lantern Festival as intangible cultural heritage.
UA’s very own historian Khervin Darrel Domingo emphasized the role of the San Fernando lantern as both a product and catalyst of change.
Ivan Henares, who is on a Fulbright scholarship in Purdue University, joined the conference via live feed and talked about revisiting the history of the festival and correcting narratives while I presented a visual timeline of the festival using old photographs which we have in the festival archives, focusing on the need for visual evidences to support oral history.
Beyond the San Fernando lanterns and the Giant Lantern Festival, I have come to appreciate more the rich Kapampangan lantern traditions with the insightful research done by Dr. Richard Daenos and Marvin Punsalan of the City College of Angeles on the traditional lantern-making tradition in the city and the efforts toward its preservation.
Joy Lansang Cruz discussed the economic aspect of the Angeles lanterns from the lens of tourism and entrepreneurship. Christopher Sanguyu of the University of the Philippines shared his paper on the need for strategic innovations in the Kapampangan lantern industry. Gerwill Cruz of the NHCP (National Historical Commission of the Philippines) talked about Catriona Gray’s National Costume which was partly inspired by the giant lanterns.
In addition, the university honored lantern makers such as rotor pioneers Cresencio Valencia and Rolando David, the father and son tandem of Ernesto and Eric Quiwa, and emerging lantern innovators from the ICT High School, Pampanga High School and UA Senior High School.
The national costume of Miss Universe Catriona Gray, complete with the giant lantern inspired back dress made by Eric Quiwa, was on loan from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for a special two-day exhibit coinciding with the conference.
Kudos to the stewardship of University President Reverend Father Joselito Henson whose support and stewardship made this happen. He was very hands-on during the conference, as well as the other university executives.
Congratulations to the University of the Assumption for this noteworthy accomplishment. The future looks brighter indeed.