CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The province of Pampanga was adjudged as one of the top four provinces in terms of best tourism practices in the country for its Giant Lantern Festival.
This award is the first in 14 years from the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) Pearl Awards which was given during the 14th ATOP National Convention in Legazpi City, Albay.
Provincial Tourism Officer Paul Arwin Lingat and City of San Fernando Tourism Officer Ching Pangilinan received the award for the province, being the first runner-up for Best Tourism Event-Arts and Culture category besting other provinces from the 16 regions in the country.
Lingat said this is the first time for the province to join the prestigious competition because the selection process is very stiff with strict guidelines that only the best of the best entries will be chosen for the final judgment.
“We are very fortunate to place second in the competition since this is the first time for Pampanga to join the competition. Majority of the provinces sent their entries but never made it to the finals,” Lingat said.
He also mentioned that the initiative is in collaboration with the San Fernando City government who introduced the Giant Lantern Festival, locally known as Ligligan Parul, that started in 1904 and has been an annual tradition in the city.
Giant Lantern Festival is a competition of 10 to 12-foot high lanterns held every December before Christmas Day. The popularity of the festival made this city and province to be tagged as Christmas Capital of the Philippines.
Lingat further said the award is significant not only to the local government units (LGUs) but also to the stakeholders of the lantern industry for the acknowledgement of their creative works and exceptional services to preserve the culture of the province through their products.
“Giant Lantern Festival showcases the culture of the Kapampangan and opens livelihood to the people,” he said.
ATOP Pearl Awards for Best Tourism Practices is the highest award that recognizes tourism exceptional practices, programs, projects and innovations of different provinces.
On the day of the convention, Lingat was also elected as Central Luzon Representative for the ATOP. He is the first Kapampangan to hold the position for three years.●Jenna Lumbang
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