CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- This city's Giant Lantern Festival has been named first runner-up for Best Tourism Event, Arts and Culture category city level, during the National Pearl Awards held in Legazpi City over the weekend.
The award is a first for the province in the 14-year history of the awards, spearheaded by the Department of Tourism and Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (Atop).
City of San Fernando Provincial Tourism Officer Paul Arwin Lingat and City of San Fernando Tourism Officer Ching Pangilinan received the award during the convention in Legazpi City, Albay.
Lingat said that the despite strict guidelines and difficulty of the competition, the province still managed to be part of the best entries in the competition.
"We are very fortunate to place second in the competition since this is the first time for Pampanga to join the competition. Majority of the provinces sent their entries but never made it to the finals," Lingat said.
What started as a lantern contest to honor and thank then President Manuel Quezon for converting Mount Arayat into a tourist resort had turned into a yearly spectacle.
The Giant Lantern Festival has become an annual festival held in December (Saturday before Christmas Eve) in this city. The popularity of the festival has earned the province the nickname "Christmas Capital of the Philippines".
The GLF is a competition of 10 to 12 feet height lanterns that are made by barangays with standing lantern-making traditions.
The award is seen as a recognition from Atop of the significance of the lantern industry here in helping local tourism and craftsmanship of local craftsmen and artisans.
The Atop Pearl Awards for Best Tourism Practices is the highest award-giving body that recognizes tourism exceptional practices, programs, projects and innovations of different provinces.
Lingat was also elected as Central Luzon Representative for the Atop. He is the first Kapampangan to hold the position.