CSF gov't prepares for Giant Lantern Festival

A giant lantern is displayed in front of the Heroes Hall in the City of Fernando, which is branded as the Christmas capital of the Philippines.
(File Photo courtesy of CLTV)
A giant lantern is displayed in front of the Heroes Hall in the City of Fernando, which is branded as the Christmas capital of the Philippines. (File Photo courtesy of CLTV)

THE City Government of San Fernando said that preparations are at their peak for the 2023 Giant Lantern Festival (GLF) set at Robinsons Starmills at 6 pm on December 16, 2023.

For this year's "Ligligan Parul," barangays Bulaon, Calulut, Del Pilar, Dolores, San Nicolas, San Jose, San Juan, Sta. Lucia, Sto. Niño, and Telabastagan will showcase a spectacle of lights, colors, music and "secret" plays as they vie for the revolving trophy and "bragging rights" in the 115th edition of the competition.

City Tourism Officer Ching Pangilinan said that the respective master lantern makers and teams of the 10 participating villages are putting the finishing touches and doing test runs in what is touted to be the biggest, brightest, and most colorful GLF that is renowned globally.

“During the last inspection, our lanterns are at 70-80 percent completion, meaning that our lantern makers are just doing their final touches. They assured us that despite all their orders, they will finish the lanterns,” she said.

To make the competition exciting and challenging this year, Pangilinan said GLF organizers lifted the cap on the number of bulbs, and shifted instead to the amount of wattage used per lantern which normally measures 20 feet in diameter.

“To ensure that there’s going to be intricate interplay of light with the music, the number of bulbs matter. So, we have already removed the limit given that they don’t exceed the electric consumption. Lanterns can use as many as 13,000 to 15,000 light bulbs as long as they follow the maximum of 350,000 watts," she said.

To make that possible, each participating barangay received a subsidy of P400,000---up P100,000 more--- the largest amount given in the history of GLF.

Aside from the revolving trophy and bragging rights, this year’s champion will take home a cash prize of P300,000, the first runner up P200,000 and the second runner up P100,000.

The actual competition on December has three rounds: the first showcasing the individual performances of the villages’ lanterns with their interplay of lights and their chosen music; the "showdown" featuring three groups of lanterns improvising their performances following surprise Kapampangan or Filipino Christmas songs; and the final round, in which the simultaneous performance of all participating lanterns burst into a dazzling, grand show playing to unified music.

After the December 16 competition, there will be nightly exhibition of the giant lanterns at Robinsons Starmills Pampanga from December 17 to January 1, 2024.

The lanterns will also make their rounds on December 24 in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral at the city proper; in the town center in Calulut on December 27-28; and in Marquee Mall in Angeles City on December 29-30.

“Every night, the lantern show is the same as the competition night itself. If you want to see the lanterns much closer, watch during the exhibition nights. If you look at the designs of the lanterns, they are never really the same. We also must understand that at the heart of the festival is the preservation of culture and tradition. So as much as we want to introduce innovations in the festival organization, we are still very strong on the common community goal of preserving this as part of the Kapampangan tradition and Fernandino culture that we want to pass on to the next generation," Pangilinan said.

Spectators may watch the festival competition night for free.

The organizers remind the public that passes are not for sale.

People may also watch the performances of the giant lanterns at the comfort of their homes through live media coverage via the Facebook Pages of CLTV36, City of San Fernando Information Office and City of San Fernando Tourism Office.

Pangilinan said that some 60 food booths featuring local cuisine presented by Kapampangan micro, small and medium entrepreneurs will be in the festival area for the crowd to enjoy a full festival experience.

Authorities advised the public of prohibited items including frisbees and other similar items, dangerous or hazardous items, illegal substances, explosives or ammunition, fireworks, knives, blades or other weapons, firearms, scooters, skateboards or other skates, laser devices, smoke canisters, signs or items with inappropriate brandings, unauthorized flyers, and spray paint or large industrial-style permanent marker pens.

Guests are not allowed to bring in the venue transmitting devices, drones, large suitcases, illegal merchandise, darts, liquor, cold boxes, air horns, and backpacks.


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