Central Luzon

Pampanga marks December with 3 major festivals

Joann Manabat

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Pampanga marks December with 3 major festivals
Three major festivals mark Pampanga’s 452 years of history which highlights the Kapampangan arts, culture, tradition, and values

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Pampanga, known as the Christmas and culinary capital of the Philippines, marks December this year with three major events that celebrate and honor its rich history, heritage, culture, and tradition.

Comprising 19 towns and two component cities, excluding the highly urbanized Angeles City, Pampanga ranks as the richest province in Central Luzon, and was the 10th richest province in the country in 2022.

The Department of Tourism in Central Luzon said the festivals in Pampanga highlight the lessons of history and the identity of the province, and are meant to preserve the provinces’ culture and tradition for the next generation.

Sustainability, however, has always been the challenge, said DOT Central Luzon chief Richard Daenos.

“The most challenging part of a festival is to think about its sustainability. That is why the DOT is eager to partner as this is a way for us to give guidance,” he said.

“We are not only thinking about tourism as an economic driver. We also invite tourists to witness the best of what we can offer them. We also want them to learn about our culture, our heritage,” he added.

Here are Pampanga’s three major festivals.

Sinukwan Festival
SINUKWAN PERFORMANCE. The Sinukwan Dancers perform one of its cultural dance piece during the Sinukwan Festival launch last November 30 at the Hilton Hotel in Clark Freeport. Joann Manabat/Rappler

The Sinukwan Festival was established in 1997 to boost morale in Pampanga following the devastation of the Mount Pinatubo eruption. The Foundation for Lingap Kapampangan Incorporated (FLKI), formerly Save Pampanga Movement, was formed to safeguard and nurture the Kapampangan identity, and revive its colorful culture, tradition, and arts.

Sinukwan Festival is an annual week-long celebration organized by FLKI in collaboration with various stakeholders to showcase Kapampangan’s cultural diversity through various activities, competitions, and presentations such as interpretative and street dance competition, Kapampangan music performances, Siuala ning Suli (Kapampangan spoken word poetry), Patenakan (quiz bee on Kapampangan culture and heritage), and the Prinsesita and Lakan at Lakambini ning Sinukwan pageants.

The 26th Sinukwan Festival is set from December 2 to 8 with the theme “Kayanakan Manimuna, Masabal king Kultura (The youth leads the love, care, and preservation of the Kapampangan Culture).”

According to FLKI president Fer Caylao, an ordinance has been proposed to the provincial government to push for the Sinukwan Festival’s sustainability. Caylao said among the challenges include funding and finding members and leaders to continue to safeguard the Kapampangan identity. 

“The FLKI has already initiated to push for the sustainability of our Sinukwan Festival. We are already in talks with the provincial government on the ordinance so that we’ll have permanent support from the provincial government and continue the Sinukwan Festival,” Caylao said in Kapampangan.

“This should carry on for our younger generation so there’s something they can look forward to. That’s why our theme is centered on the youth to spearhead and continue what we have started so that our history, culture, music, poetry will not be forgotten,” FLKI trustee Irwin Nucum said in Kapampangan.

The first Manyaman Festival
AROBU. Various Kapampangan adobo dishes were served at the cook-off competition for the Best Arobu cook-off at the Provincial Capitol on December 5. Pampanga PIO

The first Manyaman Festival is spearheaded by the provincial government through its Provincial Culinary Council (PCC) which was convened in sometime between April to June to strengthen the culinary heritage of Pampanga.

The PCC said discussions were centered on a province-wide celebration on Kapampangan food. Its goal is to strengthen, enliven, and preserve the food culture of Pampanga as the culinary capital of the country.

PCC chairperson and Provincial Board Member Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab said they decided to embrace and defend the image of Pampanga as the country’s culinary capital

“Ito ang kauna-unahang hinost ng kapitolyo. Gusto namin i-showcase ang lahat ng masasarap na pagkain dito sa probinsya. Naniniwala ako sa talento ng mga Kapampangan. Masarap kaming magluto, iba ang aming panlasa, maipaglalaban namin sa iba,” she said.

(This is the first festival hosted by the capitol. We want to showcase all of the delicious food here in our province. We believe in the talent of the Kapampangans. We cook well, we have a different taste, and we can compete with others.)

All 22 local government units showcased their respective heirloom dishes and iconic delicacies at the food fair and in a cook-off competition for the Best Arobu, Best Heirloom, and Best Kapampangan Dish categories from December 4 to 6.

The regional tourism chief said the Manyaman Festival holds hope for Pampanga to be globally recognized as it features the tangible culinary heritage and values of the Kapampangans.

“This is something we really need to take pride of. We are moving towards that direction. We are crossing our fingers that in one way or another, we will be there,” Daenos said in a mix of English and Kapampangan.

Ligligan Parul
LIGLIGAN. The 115th Giant Lantern Festival will be on December 16 at the Robinsons Starmills open grounds. Its nightly exhibition is set on December 17 to January 1, 2024. Joann Manabat/Rappler

The Giant Lantern Festival (GLF), locally known as “Ligligan Parul,” continues to light up hope in the Christmas of every Filipino home as it marks 115 years of lantern making and Kapampangan craftsmanship.

The local government of San Fernando has been gearing up for the annual GLF which will feature 10 competing barangays from the City of San Fernando: Bulaon, Calulut, Del Pilar, Dolores, San Jose, San Juan, San Nicolas, Sta. Lucia, Sto. Nino, and Telabastagan.

Each GLF competitor will receive a P400,000-subsidy from the local government, the Giant Lantern Festival Foundation Incorporated, and Firefly Electric and Lighting Corporation which are given in three tranches.

At least 8,000 bulbs synced to music and ran by a rotor engine completes a single 20-feet Kapampangan Christmas lantern.

Ten giant lanterns will light up the night sky on December 16, at the Robinsons Starmills open grounds in San Fernando City, while the nightly exhibitions are set from December 17, 2023 to January 1, 2024.

The winner of the GLF will receive cash prize, trophy, and bragging rights. – Rappler.com

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