Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jeepney Press January-February 2010 PAGE 21

by Jade Pangilinan

In Search of San Fernando Lantern Making History

Our City answers to the monikers “Christmas Capital of the Philippines” or Lantern Capital of the Philippines primarily because of the enduring lantern tradition highlighted by the annual Ligligan Parul or Giant Lantern Festival competition. As a testament to this, Paskuhan Village, shaped like a lantern, was inaugurated in 1990 as the world’s third Christmas village though it does not function as such these days.

Compared to the Japanese lantern making tradition which dates back to thousands of years ago, ours in San Fernando is relatively young at about a hundred years old. Compared to Japanese lanterns, the San Fernando lantern is more colorful and dynamic with the fusion of blinking lights with lively Christmas music. These could be attributed primarily to the difference in cultures since Christmas is a bigger event for us here than in Japan.

These days I have been pre-occupied by studying the history of lantern making in San Fernando as part of our efforts to chronicle how the tradition possibly started and evolved through the years. Oral accounts, primarily based on the family history of the Davids and Quiwas of Barangay Santa Lucia, say that this year is the centennial of lantern making as pioneered by their forefather Francisco Estanislao in 1908. The details on how and why this happened remain unknown, but genealogical reckoning will show that present day lantern maker Erning David Quiwa is the great grandson of Estanislao whose daughter Fortunata married Severino David who is credited to have invented the battery operated lanterns in the 1940s. The son of Severino and Fortunata, Rodolfo David, is credited to have invented the rotor and redefined the parul sampernandu.

Going a little farther back, local historians like tatang Norming will trace the tradition to the conversion of early Kapampangans to Catholicism in the 16th century by the Augustinian friars who introduced the practice of saintly processions during which candles were lit. The naval victory of the British invaders during the colonial era was said to have been celebrated with fireworks and lighting of lanterns in Bacolor, which gave birth to the La Naval fiesta. In turn, the practice was transmitted to San Fernando which used to be part of Bacolor (pre-1754), possibly along with the transfer of provincial capital in 1904.

Alejandro Roces in one account explains that the concept (linguistic or otherwise) of parol originated from the lighthouse Pharos in Alexandria, that famous wonder of the ancient word. Chinese and Japanese lantern making traditions are also chronicled to have been extant for the last couple of thousand years.

Given all the interactions of our Kapampangan ancestors with other cultures, these explanations on the lantern origins are all plausible.

The search for lantern history in more recent years is even more daunting. In the city hall alone we no longer have documents pertaining to the lantern festivals prior to 2001 and so on. Popular history has it that the lantern festival as we know it started in 1928, then held in honor of Aurora Aragon Quezon who personally awarded the winners. At that time the Quezons were making a summer place out of Mount Arayat (the Bano area where the resort is located). However, I have not seen first hand accounts of this incident taking place. Either that or we haven’t been looking really hard enough.

The earliest written account of a lantern contest taking place in San Fernando I encountered in a copy of Ing Misionero, dutifully shared by prolific writer Mr. Romeo Cabusao. The reckoning of the said document is January 1930, from which I could deduce that the event happened the previous year. It just mentions that the winner of a lantern contest was San Jose while Del Pilar and Santo Nino also crafted beautiful lanterns.

In the book “Ing Balen kung Tibuan,” photos of the 63rd Giant Lantern Festival held in 1995 were featured. Based on our calculations, if it was only in 1978 and 1979 that the festival was cancelled, the first would have been held in 1932. But this assumes that through out the World War II years the annual competition persisted.

Winningest barangay in history is Barangay Del Pilar with an unparalleled feat of championships from 1983 to 1991 under the helm of the legendary Mario Datu. Santa Lucia is said to have been champion in 1957 to 1959. The oldest giant lantern photo that I have seen is that of the 1956 champion Santo Nino, courtesy of tatang Erning.

Tatang Norming Del Rosario in his history of barangay Del Pilar notes that it was in 1931 that their barangay first joined the festival. More interesting is that in 1932 the barangay was said to have made a lantern entry in the image of Kingkong, created by the parent of a certain Jose Galang. Tatang Erning recalls that one of his uncles, Fernando David, was awarded by the Bishop in 1966 for a cross-shaped lantern that opened to reveal the sacred host.

In this year’s Giant Lantern Competition, our lantern makers are making history again. For the first time in seventeen years, the village of Dolores is champion once more. The village of San Pedro showcased the very giant lantern made of fiberglass. And more lanterns than ever bring messages of peace for the Philippines and the world.

by Stephanie Jones Jallorina

The Terminal

Casting Tom Hanks, the movie with the same title, is a story of a European national whose homeland city spewed into a coup just when he was en route to the USA for visit. He is a threat to the USA and he can die if he goes back. And so he must live in the "Terminal" for a time.

There were quite a lot of bus, cab, limousines, trains and airport terminals that I have been to in 2009. First roll of the year was when a close brother in Christ, Jeff, pressed release a day or two before he was bound to Pinas to handle Brastel Manila branch. But knowing Jeff, he always will excel and live anywhere and everywhere. Next was when my best cousin Jen got married. Marriage? I still think it requires full preparation but I am proud of her for making that bold step to true happiness and now being blessed with indeed a good husband and a cute princess. Then my grandfather, our patriarch here in Japan, finally joined our Heavenly Father; and, so did the King of Pop Michael Jackson, US Senator Edward Kennedy, actor Patrick Swayze and recently Stephen Gately of Boyzone. Because of their illness, some people have anticipated their death. Others were shocked with a sudden passing. But all were left in much grief and longing.

In June, our little sister in Christ, Moneng, also left for Pinas to be with her beloved. Tito Bob also moved to Hong Kong to accompany his wife. Both followed their hearts, supported their partners’ endeavors and are living in bliss. Our Joann, “syimpre” (Ilonggo translation and pronunciation for “of course”), got a sponsorship from her former employers who just moved to the USA. Joann can provide more for her family and be more professionally equipped by grabbing that rare opportunity. Same goes for Ate Lani who is ever diligent and dedicated in all her work. May she find the answers to all her questions while she seizes all her options in the States.

I attended more despedida parties because many went to the Terminal. An unknown author has coined, “The anticipation of death is far worse than death itself.” It is an agony to know your loved one is leaving at one time but I found out that it is harder to know him/her leaving unnoticed or that you do not have much time left to even say goodbye. My good friends and brothers in Christ, Raenor and Glenn, almost left unnoticed. I thought Raenor will only take a Christmas break but other brothers told me he will stay a bit longer for an exam. Glenn as a finale for this year, was surprised himself with his new post and that instead of what we only thought as a vacation ended as leave for good.

Many of us may have gone to the Terminal this year to send off a family, a friend, a loved one. We may not have been able to handle the farewell really well as it is supposed to be and may have prolonged our grieving period. But we should be reminded that the Terminal was also built to fetch the same group of people whom God sends to fill in the gaps. We should not fear the Terminal itself and any terminal cases yet ask for His guidance for He knows the plans He has for us. Let us welcome 2010 with open arms, open mind and open heart. Let us remain open in love and trust everything in God.

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