CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Within seconds on Saturday night, images of stars, fans, musical notes, bird wings, angels, trumpets and the flag of the Philippines flashed in bright colors, wowing the crowd that gathered in a shopping mall complex in this Pampanga capital for this year’s Giant Lantern Festival.
Eleven giant lanterns, fashioned by Kapampangan artisans, provided this unique kaleidoscope to celebrate the 81st year of the Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival).
As wide as 6 meters and as tall as 9 meters, the lanterns also gave everyone the impression that the patterns of light “danced.”
This is because of a local invention called “rotor,” through which the light bulbs connected by hairpins and wires switch on and off in sync with the music selected by the lantern makers or tunes played on the spot by the Giant Lantern Executive Committee (GLEC).
Performing one after the other during the first round, in a set of three or four in the second round, and together in the final round, the lanterns wowed the audience estimated by organizers to have reached at least 50,000 at the events’ center of the Robinsons Starmills here. Many foreigners were seen in the event.
But on this night when no rain spoiled the modern rendition of the Star of Bethlehem, the lanterns were played to spread the Christmas spirit with victims of Typhoon “Pablo” in Mindanao, where over 1,000 people have died from flashfloods and landslides early this month.
Including the contribution of P200,000 from the city government, the festival gathered pledges and donations reaching P1 million, Mayor Oscar Rodriguez said.
Donation boxes at the Robinsons Starmills would be maintained up to Dec. 31, city administrator Ferdinand Caylao said.
Yolanda David, GLEC chair, said the festival’s proceeds from contributions of private companies would be donated to relief and rehabilitation programs of the government.
Barangay Del Pilar reclaimed the best lantern award. After its last victory in 2002, it failed to repeat its major feat of dominating the festival for nine straight years, from 1983 to 1991.
“I’m very happy,” said Rainer Deveraturda, who designed the winning lantern.
Through the help of rotor-maker Obardo Yumang, the Del Pilar lantern featured 8,500 bulbs controlled by nine rotors.
Deveraturda and Yumang learned the craft from running errands for and watching old artisans work.
The lanterns of Telabastagan and San Jose came in second and third, respectively.
Sta. Lucia, the champion in the 2010 and 2011 contests, failed to bag a major prize, but it was voted the “texters’ choice.”