Declaration of Pampanga as PH 'Christmas capital' sought

Citing the economic and cultural significance of Pampanga's lantern-making industry, Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd district Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. is seeking the declaration of the province as "Christmas capital" of the Philippines.

2012’s Ligligan Parul, photo by Ramon F Velasquez

Gonzales filed for this purpose House Bill (HB) No.5905, which laid out the reasons why Pampanga deserves such title.

Gonzales said residents of San Fernando City in Pampangaa pride themselves as makers of beautiful giant lanterns or "parol", and that they showcase their craftsmanship and creations during their annual “Ligligan Parul” or the Giant Lantern Festival.

He described San Fernando as "the place where excellent craftsmen of these parols can be found".

He pointed out that since the 1990s, San Fernando has claimed the title, “Home of the Giant Lanterns".

“This is due in part to the establishment of the Paskuhan (Christmas) Village, which was inaugurated on December 11, 1990. The first of its kind in Asia, the village is shaped like a giant lantern sprawling on 9.3 hectares of land in the city. It provides visitors the real Philippine Christmas experience year-round,” he said in his bill.

The House leader said Paskuhan Village also serves as a venue for the display and sale of locally manufactured, export-quality products and services. It likewise features shops, a Christmas museum, food courts, conference facilities and entertainment venues, he said.

International cable television network CNN once recognized San Fernando as “Asia’s Christmas Capital,” he said.

Gonzales added that such international recognition further boosted Pampanga’s thriving Christmas traditions, as well as provided additional livelihood to his fellow "cabalen".

He underscored on his measure how Pampanga's lantern-making industry "has existed for several declares and has been a significant contributor to the economy of the province".

If enacted, the bill mandates the Department of Tourism (DOT) to issue the implementing rules within 60 days from the enactment of the proposed law.

The bill is pending before the House Committee on Tourism.