Pampanga Giant Lantern Festival

The City of San Fernando, Pampanga celebrated this year’s Giant Lantern Festival or Ligligan Parul with much pomp and circumstance. The event was graced by Vice President Jejomar Binay, thousands of people and several media outlets that flocked to the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.

The Giant Lantern Festival had nine barangay participants: San Juan, San Nicolas, Telabastagan, del Pilar, Sto. Niño, San Jose, Calulut, Sta. Lucia, and Dolores. Each giant lantern measures 20 feet in diamater, has around 8000 bulbs, 100 kilograms of wire, and has 8-10 rotors. It is manually-operated by eight to 10 people who wore gloves, helmets and other safety equipment. These are the notes I gathered from the masters of ceremonies of the event (I used my mobile phone to transcribe these information).

The giant lanterns have intricate designs and the drum rotors (?) look heavy and complicated to operate. I liked the interplay of looking at the giant lanterns display in front of me while a huge screen on my left was showing what was happening behind the scenes–the rotor operators turning the drum rotors in time with the beat of the music. Some of them were dancing, and they got moves! 🙂


Pampanga Giant Lantern Festival. This shirt came with the green ticket I bought, P250 (US $5.59)

Pampanga Giant Lantern Festival. This shirt came with the green ticket I bought, P250 (US $5.59)

The Giant Lantern Festival had three rounds in order to determine the winner. The first round let each barangay to perform its prepared number, the lights moving in perfect rhythm with the music. The second round was more complex than the first as the organizers dictated the music that would play and the rotor operators had to go with the flow. The barangays performed three at a time. The last round made all nine participants to perform while a brass band played live music. The 3 1/2-hour festivity was lively, and my eyes were transfixed to the giant lanterns as lights moved like dancing fireflies in the midst of a moonless night.



The videos above display the showmanship of the nine barangays in Round 2.





After the dazzling extravaganza of lights, Telabastagan was declared third place winning P75,000 (US $1679) with P60,000 (US $1343) awarded to the rotor operators. Calulut won second place, going home with P100,000 (US $2238) with P80,000 (US $448) going to the barangay and the balance to the team of rotor operators. Finally, and deservedly so,  Dolores won the biggest prize, P150,000 (US $3357) with P120,000 (US $2286) going to the barangay and the rest to the rotolistas.


This is part of the firework display after the program.

*I will upload more videos when I have time (and the know-how to compress the videos).

Maligayang Pasko! Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Malipayon nga Paskwa!

There are a million reasons to be happy and be thankful for this holiday season. Smile! 🙂


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