The coronavirus pandemic has forced craftsmen, local officials and civic leaders in the Pampanga provincial capital of San Fernando to cancel the competition in this year’s giant lantern festival.
Instead, they have opted to “perform” the mammoth creations to an online audience on December 16 to continue the tradition that began 112 years ago.
To explain the adjustments for the annual event, which used to gather 50,000 spectators from here and abroad, Ernesto Quiwa, great grandson of the pioneer, Francisco Estanislao, said, “We won’t allow the absence of lanterns.”
Mayor Edwin Santiago said, “The lantern festival is our way of thanksgiving for surviving the hardships during this pandemic. It is our way also of spreading the messages of hope and trusting in God.”
Pampanga’s giant lanterns are one-of-a-kind in the world. Measuring 20 feet in diameter and fitted with 15,000 light bulbs, the lanterns appear like dancing stars.