Travel Duo Christmas Special: Pampanga
Hello friends, kumusta kayo? That means ‘how are you’. We just had another fun week by spending our Christmas out of town. If you joined us last week in cold Baguio City, then you already know where we went to this week… Pampanga!
Cousin Mario told us that San Fernando City in Pampanga is slowly becoming a top Christmas destination that’s just near Metro Manila, closer than Baguio and even Tagaytay. Unlike Baguio and Tagaytay, people do not flock to San Fernando for the cool weather. They go there because there is a one-of-a-kind grand festival that happens there every Christmas.
Because of this festival, Pampanga has been called the ‘Christmas Capital of the Philippines.’ But what exactly happens there that beats the tastes of Tagaytay and the scenes in Baguio?
We felt the spirit of Christmas in San Fernando, all thanks to the 10 giant stars we saw that literally brightened up our night. Here’s what we did in the 2013 Giant Lantern Festival.
Every year, San Fernando City in Pampanga welcomes Christmas in its own very creative, traditional and unique way. Around Christmas week, barangays (villages) tout their most beautiful interpretation of the Star of Bethlehem — the star that guided the Three Kings to the Christ Jesus’ manger.
The giant lanterns or parol are made by a team from each barangay. Each lantern is 20 metres high, and made of thousands of light bulbs and rotors, creating a dancing ‘star.’ They actually look like jewels from afar… they were all very beautiful! Our jaws dropped when we saw them from afar! We caught the giant lanterns showing off their colours and patterns at Robinson’s Starmills. They were all displayed side by side, so we had a hard time choosing our favourite.
We heard that barangay Telabastagan won this year’s competition. Did you know that they won Php120,000 as champions? That may not mean much in Euros, but that’s already a very big amount for the village! What do you think of their half-half lantern? It’s the most unique of all the lanterns because the team really pushed the limits with their design. But of course, to give chance to others, we each chose another favourite.
We visited 1 week after the competition. So we didn’t get to see how they strut their stuff. We did this on purpose to avoid the crowd because Cousin Mario told us that visiting during competition day would be a huge hassle. That’s how big this event is, it draws people from all over the Philippines. If you have kids, we would not recommend for you to bring them on competition day. But everyone will enjoy them anyway even after the competition. We can guarantee you, you can make better photos of the lanterns when it not competition day since you could avoid the jostling of the crowds, that could prevent you to get the best angle.
Here is a video we found of the competition anyway. That’s how much of a fan we became from seeing the creativity of Filipinos. We advise you to watch it… and be prepared to be blown away!
Which barangay did you enjoy watching the most?
Good thing the festival is an annual affair. If you miss it this year, there will always be next year and the year after that. This year’s lanterns will be displayed until 3 January. But they will be moved to different venues all over Pampanga starting 23 December.
We wanted to stay all night long and just see all the lanterns flashing their beautiful lights. But there were other sights to see while we were in San Fernando.