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Giant lanterns in Pampanga are once again brilliant.

The customary “Ligligan Parul” (Giant Lantern Festival) at the Robinsons Starmills here on Saturday was infused with the spirit of Christmas as enormous and vibrant lanterns lit up the gloomy and chilly skies.

Thousands of Kapampangans and local tourists attended the lantern competition for the first time following the two-year restrictions imposed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) epidemic.

Social networking platforms and the local television network CLTV36 broadcast the sparkling lantern display live.

To the pace of upbeat Christmas music, the audience members gazed in astonishment as they witnessed the huge show of stunning lights, the interaction of hues, and the kaleidoscopic patterns of enormous lanterns.

The craftsmanship and creativity of the lantern makers from the participating barangays in Bulaon, Calulut, Del Pilar, Dolores, Pandaras, San Juan, San Nicolas, Sta. Lucia, Sto. Nino and Telabastagan once again demonstrated why Pampanga is deserving of the moniker “Home of Giant Lanterns” and the distinction as the “World’s Leading Manufacturer of Giant Lanterns.” “The Philippines’ capital of Christmas.

“This is truly incredible. Nobody can deny that this is the best festival in the area, according to attendee Ruperto Dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa claimed that he and his family made the long journey from Iba, Zambales, solely to see the enormous lanterns of Pampanga.

Together with her Sta. Ana, Pampanga, friend, Jenny Panganiban said, “It is incredibly wonderful to view the actual enormous brightly-colored lanterns that we had missed for the previous two years. Every lantern is made with elaborate patterns that are exclusive to the province.

It was Janet Sandoval’s first time viewing the Giant Lantern Festival, which, according to the Qatari overseas Filipino worker, captures the true spirit of Filipino Christmas custom.

“This is definitely unique. I do miss the Filipino Christmas customs like this,” she admitted.

The festival, according to Rea Katherine Mendoza of Barangay Dolores, represents the tenacity of the Kapampangan people.

“I am happy to call myself a Kapampangan. Despite all the obstacles, we would not let the Giant Lantern Festival disappear because it is a part of our culture, she said.

One lantern was clearly the “best among the best” of the ten after the presentation.

As the winner this year, Barangay San Juan took home the top award of PHP 300,000.

First runner-up Barangay Telabastagan received a cash award of PHP200,000, and the second runner-up Barangay Sta. Lucia received a cash prize of PHP100,000.

The enormous lanterns will remain on exhibit at the Robinsons Starmills Pampanga from December 15–23, December 25–30, and January 1 after the competition.

On December 24 in Poblacion, Barangay Sto. Rosario, and on December 29 and 30 at Marquee Mall, they will also be on display.

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