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Sinag Festival of Lights: a mix of folk art and fine art

“We would like to mix the folk art and the fine art in the concept of the giant lantern and the art installation of the stylized images of truth, goodness and beauty,” Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado broke the ice during the impromptu dialogue with the members of the press recently at the City of San Fernando Train Station in Pampanga which is converted into a museum.

Folk art is the common creation of the popular parols or lanterns—relatively big and small—which  are traditionally hang and decked in facades of houses and other establishments in the Philippines during the Yuletide season. Its innovation is the elaboration and invention of the giant lanterns mostly associated with the artisans of the City of San Fernando in Pampanga Province although the Las Piñas (when it was still a political unit of a town of Rizal Province until it was attached to Metro Manila) parol making was earlier recognized as the precursor of the Christmas lantern or parol.

A Las Piñas parol maker would internalize and concede later that their items were different from the products of San Fernando. “Sa amin dito sa Las Piñas City, tradisyunal na parol ang ginagawa namin. Pero mas kilala ang San Fernando sa mga higanteng parol at nagmumurang mga ilaw (Here in our place, we make the traditional lantern or parol. But San Fernando is more famous for its giant lanterns and abundant lights),” intimated an officer of the Las Piñas City Parol Makers who doesn’t want to be identified anymore.

No matter.

Both creations of Christmas lanterns be it from Las Piñas or San Fernando are considered the epitome of folk art in lantern making.

It just so happened that this year’s giant lanterns to be installed in CCP are imported from Pampanga.

Meanwhile, the fine art in the giant lantern comes from the ingenuity of a multimedia artist in Toym Imao, the conceptualizer of the artistic touches in the giant parol. Being a subscriber to both the classic movement and the contemporary styles, Imao translated the giant lantern concept into a mix of the traditional and the modern approaches.

In other words, the City of San Fernando folk artists led by Arvin Quiwa, the representative of Quiman Trading, the company which takes care of the hardware while Imao, the fine artist, provides the form, the contents and the meanings in the tools.

In effect, to fuse the two forces would result in a multi-dimensional artistic creation.

Initially, Imao said he wanted an embellishment in the whole project billed as “Sinag: Festival of Lights” that would show the Filipino spirit of a happy people, their joy coming from within the inner soul of every person.

Toym in his most creative juices thought of a sundial to represent the time of the day in its radiance and significance as a symbol of Filipino artistry. Millado affirmed the idea. “If it is radiant, it is coming from within like rays of the sun,” Chris opined.

Even Ariel Yonzon, the Head of the Production and Exhibition Department of CCP toed the line of the concept of the whole exercise of the lights radiating from within shining to everyone, to every Filipino who would watch the spectacle—thus the title of the event “Sinag: Festival of Lights.”

In the sundial display, there are platforms surrounding it for performances and audience participation. There will be bicycles tinted with beautiful colors on standby for the spectators to take a ride in around the sundial with sensors to dance to the beat of the music, for instance. “The guests are invited to participate. It is for free. But of course, they will have to take turns like in riding the bikes,” explained Millado.

As the diorama suggests, beside the sundial is a 22.5-feet in height and 48-feet in width giant lantern. This type of structure, according to the press briefs of the CCP Corporate Communications, represents the role arts and culture plays in society.

Both the sundial and the colorful giant lantern will be placed at the CCP Front Lawn (near the huge fountain) combined with the traditional arts with the magic of modern technology, offering pure entertainment of the nightly spectacle which will commence on September 19, 2019.

Another combination of folk art and fine art is the installation art of the aphorism “truth, goodness and beauty” which is the overall tenet of the art and culture institution.

It is the creativity once more of Imao that expresses his exceptional talent to come up with stylized baybayin (an ancient Filipino alphabet) images of the precept.

According to Toym, there are three layers of the languages used in the installation art. One is the Latin-Tagalog version, the other is the baybayin and the third is an outright Filipino words “katotohanan (truth), kabutihan (goodness), kagandahan (beauty)). To add a visual treat and a literary dimension, there will be reflections of colors and lights on each word. Colors yellow and pastel characterize the whole wide installation to be hung on the CCP Main Building façade. The size of the installation art is 24 ft. x 62 ft.

In transforming and fleshing out all these decors, us entertainment, arts and lifestyle writers Art Tapalla, Ymannuel Provinio, Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Kristan Carag and controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel with some of the CCP staff like Louie Cruz of the creative section of the agency, Irene de Jesus Obligacion, publicity manager and some of her technical crew paid the workshop of Quiman Trading, the private company which was awarded the project by the government, in the City of San Fernando.

In the lab where the partnership of folk artist Arvin and fine artist Toym was actualized, we saw thousands of yards of white tarp which was cut out into the skeletons of the giant lantern, the sundial and the installation art.

Steels and other materials were on the floor for the creation of the giant lanterns, the sundial and the installation art. A partial side of the giant lantern (just an estimated three-fourths or even less of the whole) was already in place and it has already multi-colored dancing lights coming from the light and sound machine.

Within each bended steel skeleton to form the lantern is separated by a material called “insulation”—a silvery, thermal material or a pattern of tin foil with cloth wrapped around each steel. According to Arvin, the “insulation” separates the light from the effects of the sound. It also reduces heat transfer to the whole structure.

Meanwhile, there were already finished ordinary-sized just as big lanterns with the CCP 50th stamped on them. All of the forty seven lanterns would be suspended against the lampposts around the CCP Complex.

This “Sinag: Festival of Lights” is indeed a spectacle not to be missed by each Filipino and other guests, foreign or local tourists alike.

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