By Philippines News Agency
TARLAC CITY, Tarlac –– Local and foreign tourists can witness anew various sizes, colors and designs of Belen (Nativity) in the annual Belenismo, considered as a grandest festival in this province.
Now on its 9th year, 17 towns and one city in this province participated this year in the annual tradition of portraying Nativity scene that placed Tarlac as the Belen Capital of the Philippines.
“They are free to be creative. We do not restrict them for as long as they highlight the Holy Family and they are in the center stage of the Belen,” Dra. Isa Cojuangco Suntay, chairperson of the annual Belenismo, said.
Suntay led Friday the lightning of a belen made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in collaboration of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation.
The belen where its design is a colorful spread out tail of a peacock that serves as a wall of protection for the Holy Family, is located in front of the Camp General Servillano Aquino in San Miguel, this city.
As part of the annual competition, participants used indigenous and recyclable materials in making belen.
In Capas, Jessie David, the municipal artist used “baging” (vine) the Aetas got from Mt. Pinatubo.
“I used the wild vine as may main material in making belen just to be different from the rest of art work,” David said.
For Vence Orcena, a resident of Paniqui, belen portrays the true meaning of Christmas.
“For us in Paniqui, our belen lift up our hopes after what our town gone through during typhoon Karen,” Orcena said,
But for Angle Credo, he is so proud to be a Tarlaqueno whenever he sees belen on display in front of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom).
“I always take my family every time Belenismo opens.It is a sight to be proud of as Tarlaqueno. Because every year, our belen evolves beautifully. Next year, we do not know what to expect,” Credo said.
Many of the belens are now displayed in town halls, churches, and establishments along the highway, providing travelers and commuters a virtual treat especially during the night.
The art of making Belen compeition starts every November when entries are set up and submitted for judging, and then followed by a lawards night held every December. The belens remain on display up to early January.