Giant Lantern Festival
San Fernando Pampanga
The Giant Lantern Festival is held in San Fernando, Pampanga. The festival is an annual competition and parade of the biggest and most spectacular lanterns. These giant lanterns average around 40 feet in diameter. Each lantern can bear thousands of light bulbs apiece.
Watch them all in their twinkling, blinking, flashing glory in this grand Christmas exhibit also in the Giant Lantern Festival.
The Giant Lantern Festivals receive a dazzling! Awesome! Gratitude whole over the world. The annual lantern festival in San Fernando, Pampanga continues to attract hordes of spectators from all over the country, as the competing giant parols become even more spectacular with each passing year.
The massive crowd, almost body to body, literally spills from the town plaza to nearby streets and alleys. Children as well as adults even climb trees or stand on outdoor tables, chairs; roofs of cars and jeep, and rooftops just it get a vantage point to view the thrilling competition and colorful parade in the Giant Lantern Festival.
What a sight to behold- those magnificent Giant Lanterns against the inky blue evening sky! Their geometric shapes and myriad colors flash, pulsate, and whirl into psychedelic wonders. Intricate patterns mesmerize for a couple of seconds then change again, and again and again.
Their kaleidoscopic radiance is cast by hundreds of thousands of blinking lights. Each parol (lantern) has a safety box and a 75 KVA generator, powerful enough to light an entire barrio. Many entries in the Giant Lantern Festivals are also high-tech and computerized.
The popular shapes of decades ago - the rose, the bromeliad, the snowflakes and the sea urchin - which evolved from the simple five-pointed star are still around, but are somewhat "hidden" in the maze of brilliant colors and complex configurations of the parols as they rhythmically move to the dance beat of brass bands.
Some gigantic parols span a breadth of 40 feet. They are fashioned from crepe paper; Japanese paper, softdrink straws, wood, plastic, glass, metal. capiz shell and other environmentally friendly native materials. Each parol is an expensive but truly attractive example of Pampanga folk art.
A parol maker during the December 1994 contest spent P100, 000 to construct his entry which had thousand of components. Various organizations and sponsors subsidize the cost. The prize for the winner was P5, 000 in cash and a coveted trophy plus national prestige, immeasurable in terms of material value.
The parade of giant lanterns also becomes a parade of six-by-six trucks carrying the heavy parols. Each lantern weighs 1000kg or more, and requires at least 50 people, working almost an entire year, to assemble it (January to May for electrical framework; June to July for the electrical wiring; August to December for papering).
The tradition of the parol folk art dates back to 1928 when artisan Francisco Estanislao first constructed the original, simple five five-point star lantern, lighted by either a candle or a kalburo (carbide) lamp, as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem.
In Pinoy Christmas lingo, the "Pampanga parol" has become a generic term for any elaborate star lantern.
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