Designed by a 61-year-old barber and electrician, the Dolores lantern bested Telabastagan backstopped by Councilor Jimmy Lazatin and his brother, vice gubernatorial candidate Marco Lazatin.
Dolores, Telabastagan and three other entries in the festival also known as “Ligligan Parul” had appealed for peace in the wake of the November 23 massacre in Maguindanao province where 57 were killed, including 30 journalists.
“The giant lantern is known worldwide. I hope the festival will promote unity and peace, especially in our country,” said Councilor Lazatin who, along with the members of Pamisaupan Inc. (PI) were instrumental in the back-to-back win of Telabastagan in 2007 and 2008.
“I firmly hope that the year 2010 will be better and there will be less and limited violence – or none at all. World peace and unity among the people of San Fernando villages are far more important and paramount. Our aim for victory was secondary,” said the two-term top councilor.
City of San Fernando Tourism Officer Ching Pangilinan disclosed that the lanterns of Barangays Sta. Lucia, Dolores, San Nicolas, Telabastagan and Del Pilar had appealed for peace through their designs and lights. Telabastagan’s entry was powered by some 8,300 light bulbs – their champion entry last year was with some 5,000 bulbs.
“More lanterns in the festival this year showcased messages of peace and the Fernandinos are as concerned with what’s happening happening in the country. We pray that the lanterns become beacons of hope for our kababayans,” said Panglilinan in a statement.
She added that “every year there were one or two lanterns calling for peace but now there are five.”
Pangilinan said Dolores was adjudged winner because “of the timing of the lights during the showdown” at the Robinson’s Starmills here graced by Mayor Oscar Rodriguez and some 75,000 spectators.
“And because its message is peace,” added Pangilinan, disclosing that local and foreigners were chosen as judges in the 101-year-old event.
“Our world is getting to be more chaotic,” said Cesar Sicat, the designer of the Dolores lantern, in a statement.
“Of course, we include them in our prayers because they are our fellow Filipinos,” said Sicat, referring to the victims of the pre-election violence in Maguindanao.
Mayor Rodriguez disclosed that the roots of the festival began in 1908 in Sta. Lucia at the boundary of nearby Bacolor town.
He added that “it was actually religious in character and it united the villagers in the peace that the Child Jesus gifted humankind.”
Rodriguez said that his people “don’t only showcase our people’s creativity and talent. When a lantern is lit, it is our way of saying, ‘Peace be with you in the name of Christ,” added Rodriguez, who was lauded for his efforts to make the lantern festival known in many parts of the world.
Jaime De Guzman of Barangay Agustin said the message of peace “should be implanted in the hearts of politicians and government officials.”
“In our country, they are the bosses. It’s either they promote peace or otherwise. We saw what happened in Maguindanao,” he added.
Pangilinan disclosed that Dolores – where most businesses are located – had last won the contest in 1992. She added that it got a score of 95.08 in the contest last December 18.
Designed by Arnel Flores, the lantern of Telabastagan got the second place with 93.89. Its third straight win this year could have helped them capture a rare grandslam feat, winning three times in a row.
“If we had won again. We will just be participating next year and the succeeding years as guest,” said Lazatin. They got the P50,000 cash price.
Dolores won P100,000. Third placer Barangay San Jose won P30,000.