Pampanga’s giant lanterns preach message of peace
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Ten giant lanterns expressed a collective hope for peace in Marawi City and the rest of the country during the “Ligligan Parul” (Giant Lantern Festival) here on Saturday.
The lanterns provided a spectacle of light and colors at Robinsons Starmills grounds in this Pampanga capital.
The lantern of Barangay Sindalan began dancing to the sound of the “agung” (a gong-type musical instrument) before “Bangon Marawi,” a song popularized by Esang de Torres, was played. Light bulbs lit up to spell out the words “Love,” “Allah,” “Ama” and “Kapayapaan.”
The lantern of Barangay Calulut repeatedly flashed the phrase “Peace and Hope for Marawi, Salute AFP” before the bulbs were lit to form the shape of the peace sign.
Barangay Del Rosario’s lantern was lit up gradually to form a green crucifix, while “Bangon Marawi” played in the background. Barangay Sta. Lucia’s lantern flashed the phrase “Pasko Pag-Ibig (Christmas Love).”
Marawi was liberated from Islamic State-inspired militants led by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in October after a five-month siege, but martial law in Mindanao has been extended until the end of 2018. Malacañang has told Congress that Mindanao is still threatened by other armed groups.
Ligligan Parul is a Christmas tradition that dates back to 1908 in this predominantly Roman Catholic province.
The giant lanterns depict the Biblical Star of Bethlehem, which guided the Three Kings to the manger where the Child Jesus was born more than 2,000 years ago.
Each lantern towered as high as a two-story house, measuring 6.10 meters (20 feet) in diameter. The lanterns were carried by sugarcane-hauling trucks.
These man-made stars, fitted with close to 10,000 light bulbs, dazzled spectators with dancing lights synchronized with a medley of Christmas songs and pop ditties, including “Baby Shark” and the theme song from the Japanese anime “Voltes V.”
Barangay Telabastagan’s lantern greeted everyone “Merry Christmas” and then formed the message: “Save Trees, Save Life.” It also flashed the Philippine flag in vivid colors, encircled by human figures holding hands.
Barangay San Juan’s lantern exhibited images of a red heart and Jesus Christ while the words “Peace,” “Love” and “Sacred Heart of Jesus” unfolded to the tune of “Feliz Navidad.”
The lantern of Barangay Dolores showed the word “Trust” in red bold letters and proceeded to show an eagle bearing the colors of the Philippine flag. It flashed the word “Freedom,” and ended the performance with the phrase “Love and Hope Never End.”
Barangay San Nicolas’ lantern featured a complex lighting pattern, which was abruptly paused, allowing operators to flash the images of Jesus Christ, a dove and the Philippine flag. Its lantern show concluded with the word “Kapayapaan” (peace).
Only the lantern of Barangay Del Pilar used Christmas songs exclusively, ending its playful performance with an image of an angel.
Barangay San Jose’s lantern skipped phrases and images, focusing its performance instead on a special light choreography.
It drizzled twice on Saturday night, briefly interrupting the one-of-a-kind show. The absence of any bright stars in the skies also lent a dramatic touch to the event, said Gil Cortez, chair of the festival committee.
“The Ligligan Parul is our identity as Fernandinos,” he told the crowd of about 50,000 here. Among the spectators was US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.
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