Bayanihan Media Awards National Winner

10 CSFP villages to join 2023 Giant Lantern Festival

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — A total of 10 villages in this capital city will join the 2023 Giant Lantern Festival (GLF).

Barangays Bulaon, Calulut, Del Pilar, Dolores, San Nicolas, San Jose, San Juan, Sta. Lucia, Sto. Niño, and Telabastagan will showcase a spectacle of marvelous crafts and kaleidoscopic splendor in the 115th edition of the competition.

City Tourism Officer Ma. Lourdes Carmella Jade Pangilinan underscored that all lanterns are almost complete and ready to be staged in the biggest, brightest, and most colorful Christmas celebration in the country.

“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.

Participating villages each received a subsidy totaling P400,000, the largest amount given in the history of GLF.

Pangilinan stated that for this year, the festival will not be strict in the number of bulbs, but in the amount of wattage used per lantern.

“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,” she stated.

Lanterns can use as many as 13,000 to 15,000 light bulbs as long as they follow the maximum of 350,000 watts.

A worker arranges the different-colored light bulbs of the giant lantern entry of Calulut village. For the first time in history, the competition is not strict in the number of bulbs, but in the amount of wattage used per lantern as lanterns can use as many as 13,000 to 15,000 light bulbs as long as they follow a maximum of 350,000 watts. (City of San Fernando Information Office)

The Competition and Exhibition Nights

Dubbed as Ligligan Parul by Kapampangans, the city’s sparkling giants will compete on Saturday, December 16, 6:00 PM at Robinsons Starmills Pampanga.

Pangilinan highlighted that spectators may watch the festival competition night for free. “We will have around 60 food booths in the area, owned by micro, small and medium enterprises, because we want to promote our food. This is also for us to enjoy the full festival experience,” she added.

Viewers are also reminded that prohibited items include 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.

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

As usual, the competition will have three rounds, with the first round being the individual performances of the villages’ lanterns with their interplay of lights and their chosen music.

The showdown begins in the second round as lanterns will be divided into three groups, and operators will be challenged to improvise their performances following surprise Kapampangan or Filipino Christmas songs.

The final round, meanwhile, is a simultaneous performance of all participating lanterns.

On the other hand, Pangilinan announced that the gigantic lanterns will also be exhibited in different venues. The villages’ crafts will still be staged at Robinsons Starmills Pampanga from December 17 to January 1, 2024. 

Some lanterns will also be brought to perform in the city’s cathedral in Sto. Rosario on December 24; 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,” Pangilinan pressed.

Filipinos 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, City of San Fernando Tourism Office, Giant Lantern, and PIA Gitnang Luzon.

Workers employ final touches for the giant lantern entry of barangay Dolores. The village, and its lantern maker Marcelino Ambrocio prepares a giant lantern that will circle around the life of Jesus Christ – from his birth to his resurrection, including his struggles along the way. (City of San Fernando Information Office)

A Tradition Passed Through Generations

The Ligligan Parul does not only exhibit giant lanterns as stars of hope, but also display the artistry of the city’s esteemed lantern craftsmen whose lantern-making talent is something that is deeply rooted in their culture and has been passed on through generations.

For 2023, father-and-son Arnel Flores from Telabastagan, and Mark Flores from San Juan will be the ones to beat after winning as second and first placers during last year’s competition, respectively.

Telabastagan, which is one step closer to the champion belt, will highlight the message of thanksgiving as a way of gratitude to the ever-supportive Fernandino community in its entry.

San Juan, meanwhile, will try to defend its title with the help of 15,000 bulbs for its highly anticipated masterpiece.

Barangay Sta. Lucia, and its lantern maker Byron Bondoc, is ready to conquer this year by featuring various gimmicks in its lantern crafted with extensive expertise.

Lantern maker Florante Parilla of Bulaon will highlight a more playful lantern with an increased number of light bulbs at 8,200.

Calulut’s entry, now under the hands of hall-of-famer giant lantern maker Teddy Aguilar, designer of the winning crafts from GLF 2014 to 2017, will showcase more gimmicks while utilizing 10,000 bulbs.

Jun Batac vowed to have an entry that will sustain the Del Pilar quality with a blend of innovations especially that his group is composed mostly of members from the youth sector.

Meanwhile, the village of Dolores and its lantern maker Marcelino Ambrocio, has prepared a giant lantern that will circle around the life of Jesus Christ – from his birth to his resurrection, including his struggles along the way.

San Jose, with its lantern maker Rolando Ambrocio, is making its comeback in the GLF stronger by producing a lantern with the promise of continuously participating in the prestigious tradition. 

San Nicolas and lantern maker Edmar David will be using over 10,00 light bulbs in its entry to try to finish on the podium.

Lastly, Sto. Niño, and its lantern craftsman Leslie Bondoc, will try to clinch its first championship belt by producing a lantern that will topple all other lanterns.

Pangilinan stated that also part of the intangible cultural heritage for the giant lanterns is the use of rotor technology.

In this process, electricity is run through the wires attached in steel cylinders that are turned manually by hand to create the harmonization of lights and sounds.

“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 Kampangan tradition and Fernandino culture that we want to pass on to the next generation,” she pressed.

This year’s champion will receive a trophy and a cash prize of P300,000. The 1st runner takes home P200,000 while the 2nd runner up gets P100,000.