Two big lanterns sent by the Pampanga provincial government to the Filipino community in New York City have been lighted and displayed at the Philippine Center there beginning on Dec. 1.
Elmer Cato, Philippine Consul General in New York, led the lighting ceremony, which was graced by Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, the permanent representative of the Philippines to the United Nations.
Consul General Winanto Adi of Indonesia, Consul General Abu Hassan of Malaysia, Consul Christine Tay of Singapore, Consul Renita Moniaga of Indonesia, Assemblyman Steven Raga of New York and Deputy Commissioner Dilip Chauhan of the Office of International Affairs of New York City also attended the event reckoned to be the first ever lighting of big Christmas lanterns at the Philippine Center.
“Our dream of having giant lanterns here in New York is finally happening tonight, thanks to Governor Dennis Pineda of Pampanga who was generous enough to send two mini-giant lanterns from our province,” Cato said in a brief program held before the lighting ceremony.
Speaking on behalf of the governor, Lubao Mayor Esmeralda Pineda said the provincial government sent the lanterns so that Filipinos could “get a feel of what Christmas is like back home.”
“Paskong Pinoy, ika nga,” she added, expressing hope that the lanterns would “renew their sense of being Pinoy and their sense of home.”
Cato said that “with many Filipinos working in New York missing their families and friends in the Philippines, during the Christmas Season, we wanted to spread a little holiday cheer – the Filipino way – by having our parols light up the street outside the Philippine Center.”
“We believe this is the perfect way for thousands of Americans and many others who walk across the Philippine Center to get a sense of how we Filipinos celebrate Christmas,” he said.
Eric Quiwa, a great, great grandson of the pioneer giant lantern maker Francisco Estanislao, handcrafted the two lanterns. The first lantern measures eight feet in diameter and is fitted with 875 bulbs. The second one is six feet in diameter and has 680 bulbs. The lights go on and off in various patterns using channel sequencers than the traditional rotors, a unique contraption invented by lantern makers.
The Bureau of Customs in Clark helped ship the lanterns. Mekeni Food International, Dollarhits in New York, Ihawan Restaurant in New York and Pampangueña Restaurant in New Jersey supported the event.
“For the Filipino, the parol is a symbol of hope, an expression of faith, and a reminder to remain resilient amidst personal hardships and societal challenges,” Cato said.