Ligligan Parul 2014

*I didn't notice the error I made while editing. Please bear with me atm*

 The Ligligan Parul Competition, the world-renowned San Fernando Giant Lantern Festival was held. A huge crowd has formed in the spectator section across the wide competition area, and more are arriving. Like the Magi of the first Christmas, many having come from afar, invited not by the light of a tiny star in an unreachable sky, but by giant disks that now sit in the darkness, variegated patterns barely visible on their faces.
For several decades, the Giant Lantern Festival has been the piece de resistance of a long holiday season in the City of San Fernando. Neither Martial Law curfews nor Mount Pinatubo eruptions have discouraged the eagerness of Fernandinos in mounting this vibrant spectacle. In fact, the lantern contest has grown in proportion to the progress of the city, and today it can boast of being truly as world-class as its unique and endearing festival.
The mere sight of a slumbering giant San Fernando lantern is already quite formidable for one used to the size of ordinary parols hung at home. But once awakened by festive music, it becomes a delightfully gargantuan kaleidoscope that brings every beholder back to that certain age of wonder when everything was new.
And Last December 13th, 9 barangays from San Fernando, Pampanga, Competed for the title of "Giant Lantern Festival 2014 Grand Campion"

 However, there is more to it than kinetic colors gaily evolving in every imaginable shape and symmetry. A giant parol is both a work of art and a product of technical know-how, showcasing ingenuity and creativity with the most basic of materials. It takes a lot of time and effort in making these parols.
The design extrapolates a pentagonal pattern taken from the small traditional bamboo parols that accompanied religious images of barangay chapels as they made their way to the mother church for the Christmas Eve mass decades ago.
The giant frame is then held upright, and individual cardboard compartments are assembled to isolate the bulbs within each steel section. Each compartment is also lined with reflective metal foil to intensify illumination. In the past, resourceful builders used the foil linings of discarded cigarette packs for this purpose.
While the frame sections are being compartmentalized, bulbs from previous competitions are cleaned and tested, with busted ones replaced. On the average, more than 3,000 bulbs are used for every giant lantern, and recycling bulbs are a way of bringing down the significant costs of the construction. And as what Kuya Job said, the average expenses in making a lantern costs almost half a million pesos.

The excitement of the competition, or ligligan in the Kapampangan language, is upon the city. Behemoths from different barangays are slowly wheeled in and neatly lined up in the competition area. Hours pass, then minutes go by. Last minute adjustments are made. Connections are checked and double-checked. Thousands are in attendance. While the opening ceremonies are performed and the perfunctory speeches are delivered, the master parol makers, their assistants and drivers are eager with expectation. Finally, a contestant is called, and the signal is given. Months of gruelling work are now condensed in this one decisive moment.
As the first notes of music fills the air, the giant lantern comes to life, exploding, imploding, shimmering, dancing. A point of light timidly flickers, but taking its cue from the musical crescendo it shatters like a gem into a festival of prisms. Colors mysteriously change and shapes undulate into complicated curlicues. The people watch in awe, taking note of the rhythm and the novelty of design. At the end of a turn, their oohs and aahs are replaced by thunderous applause.
One giant lantern is followed by another, and still another. Favorites are noted. After rounds of fantastic individual and group display, the people gird themselves for the ultimate showdown: all competing giant lanterns perform simultaneously to an upbeat tune, trying to literally out-electrify each other. The spectators cannot concentrate on just one or two entries, but must scan the whole length of the field, because every lantern is doing its best to impress. The once dark competition ground is now awash with restless light that reflects upon the flush faces of the spectators. The stars have truly come down from heaven.
The adrenalin rush does not die down with the last flickering hue at the official end of the competition. As the scores are tallied, excitement mounts. The judges are hard at work while the penultimate activities onstage are completed. The delay fails to rein in the growing anticipation. Finally, the moment of reckoning has come, and the winner is announced. Wild cheering erupts. Fireworks explode in the sky, futilely trying to replicate the concluded spectacle on the ground. Winners exult, their bragging rights secure for a year. The ligligan parul of San Fernando is over, but as everyone happily treads back home.

Next Christmas season, I encourage you, guys, to come and celebrate with us! It is the night of every fernandino is proud of. ♥

Stay rad, Stay weird, Stay Awesome!
xx, Xine



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