Luzon, Mindanao: Home of PH's "merriest" light festivals

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

December 20, 2018, 9:35 pm

MANILA -- It's five days away from December 25, and those without Christmas travel itinerary yet may want to indulge in a "sparkling getaway" in Central Luzon or Northern Mindanao, home to two of the Philippines' "merriest" light festivals.
Aside from the numerous light and sound attractions the country with one of the "longest" yuletide season in the world have to offer, the Philippines is host to two grand Christmas festivals held annually --the Giant Lantern Festival of Pampanga and the Christmas Symbols in Misamis Occidental, which are both in full display until New Year.
Giant Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival, locally known as "Ligligan Parul", has been a tradition for Pampanga for the past century-- basically even during the period the province never used electricity.
Every third week of December, the province brings together its people from different municipalities and barangays to join the lantern competition to showcase their best and most intricate giant lanterns to the public.
The giant lantern, with standard size of 20 feet in height, is made up of bamboo and steel frames, colored fiberglass or plastics illuminated by at least 10,000 light bulbs and is interestingly run manually by old rotors.
Rotors work like a sequencer that dictates the dancing lights' intricate routine that flickers in tune with pop music and seasonal jingles.
Giant lantern making has been around in the province for 110 years. Throughout this period, the "legacy" goes on and made grander every year.
"Many people can imitate how we build this lantern, but they can never take the heart that goes with its creation," said Alex Patio, chairman of the 2018 Giant Lantern Festival committee.
This year, 11 participants joined the competition held on Saturday at the Robinsons Starmills grounds.
From December 16 until January 2, a similar spectacle of lights interchanging into different patterns every second will be on display in the following areas:
December 16 to 21 - Robinsons Starmills, 5 p.m.
December 22 - Telabastagan
December 23 - Greenfields Square, Sindalan
December 24 - In front of the City Hall
December 25-30 - Robinsons Starmills
December 29 to 30 - Marquee Mall, Angeles
January 1 to 2 - Robinsons Starmills
Although each lantern is phenomenal, the glimmering circle to gaze at this year is from Telabastagan, the champion lantern of the competition.
Christmas Symbols Festival
Far south, "world-renowned" structures are shining bright in one place.
The Christmas Symbols Festival, a month-long activity where iconic landmarks around the globe are replicated for the Yuletide, is lit with sparkling, stunning lights.
This month, a trip to Tangub would be akin to the movie 80 Days Around the World, except it would only take an hour or two to get a glimpse of "the must visits" in almost all of the world's continents.
To make it more like a trip around the globe, visitors are given "Tangub passport booklet" to visit the festival's glorious 2018 displays.
Northern Luzon tourism officer Carlston Maglangit said the spectacle will be on exhibit until the first week of January 2019. (PNA)