San Fernando is a first class city, the regional center of Central Luzon, and capital of the province of Pampanga, which is about 2-3 hours drive away from Metro Manila. It is popularly known as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines” and even hailed internationally as “Asia’s Christmas Capital” being home to the Giant Lantern Festival.
The parol or star lantern is probably the most popular Christmas symbol in Philippine culture, with almost every home hanging at least one during the Christmas season. The lantern, which come in different colors and sizes, symbolizes light and hope for Filipinos and is closely associated with the town of San Fernando as the birthplace of such ornament.
The lanterns of San Fernando are said to date as early as 1900s. And over the decades, the locals of San Fernando have evolved the small lantern into towering, brightly-lit masterpieces that they showcase during the Giant Lantern Festival. Some lanterns use up to as much as 5,000 light bulbs that run, dance, and twinkle into kaleidoscopic patterns to the tunes of popular Christmas songs.
Thousands of locals and tourists flock to the town during the Christmas season to witness the grandeur and intricacy of the giant lanterns, which have already been featured in numerous local and international media outlets and publications.
San Fernando’s main produce include rice, sugar, and other agricultural products. However, it is also fast-becoming an industrial hub with manufacturing companies, commercial complexes, and real estate developments sprouting across the region given its strategic location and road networks.
The local government of San Fernando is gearing up its development plans in pursuit of becoming a “preferred tourism destination in Asia” by year 2022.