Lanterns to be lit to bring cheer amid storm gloom

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THIS lantern from Barangay Telasbastagan, designed by father and son, Arnel and Mark Flores, is one of 11 entries in this year’s Giant Lantern Festival to be held on Dec. 15 at Robinsons Starmills in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga. E.I. REYMOND T. OREJAS/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Eleven giant lanterns competing in an 81-year-old festival in this Pampanga capital on Saturday will light up to rally spectators to share the spirit of Christmas with victims of Typhoon “Pablo” in Mindanao.

On top of donating P200,000 and encouraging its employees to pool 150 sacks of rice, the city government is setting up a donation booth at the festival venue, Robinsons Starmills here, on Dec. 15 to receive aid for people in areas devastated by Pablo. Entrance to the festival is free.

Cash, canned goods, clothes and other materials are welcome to help survivors get back on their feet, said Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

“This is our way of giving hope to our fellow Filipinos, our way also of expressing our gratitude to our people and companies that helped us in the darkest days and nights of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruptions,” he said.

Mt. Pinatubo erupted in June 1991, killing 500 people and displacing 1.3 million residents in the Central Luzon provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales.

It became a continuing disaster as rains washed down lahar from the slopes, burying people, farms, ponds and properties, and reversing the progress in those areas that hosted the military bases of the United States. Major lahar flows stopped in 1997.

In Pampanga, the seat of the Augustinian missions in the Spanish colonial era, lanterns were used to light the images of patrons during processions and lubenas (novena before Christmas Eve), early historians wrote.

The festival, “Ligligan Parul” to locals, has a big potential in raising support for people in need because it draws about 30,000 tourists, said city administrator Ferdinand Caylao. “I hope kindness pours,” said Caylao. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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