San Fernando, Pampanga is recognized on both the national and international level for her Giant Lanterns and their respective festival. As time passed on, the creation of the giant lantern along with its tradition and its practice with its symbolism was no longer considered confined to the seasonal territory of ‘the longest Christmas’. Among the latest instances of creative lantern design, COVID-19 is seen rendered. Circulated on the 29th of April 2020, Roland Quiambao and Joshua Lorenzo shared a COVID-19 themed animated lantern of their design, which was intended as an expression of hope and to help ease emotional stress.
The article is set on a Geertzian-flavored Symbolic & Interpretive Anthropological framework, which posits that understanding culture is a perennial act of interpretation, involving the positioning of a cultural act into the specific and local contexts, in which the act is meaningful. This piece is written from an emic perspective; the author is Kapampangan. It begins with a close reading of the online performance of the lantern using a step formula, which breaks down gimmicks (light pattern sequences and design which fit the songs) into subjects, structure, symbols on the iconographic level, and form-qualities, which are in turn organized via the visual-kinesthetic and thematic classification. The message of the imagery is reinforced through the playlist in which the lantern’s lights dance to.
The discussion follows with critical ruminations on the online animated format of the lantern in terms of performance, accessibility, and its implications on the framings of lantern spectatorship and lantern creation in the time of COVID-19 and the ‘New Normal’.
Keywords: Giant-Lantern, San-Fernando, COVID-19, Animation, Heritage
The author has two degrees in Political Science from the University of Santo Tomas. She has earned her doctorate in Social & Cultural Anthropology from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Her research interests range from political culture & theory and heritage studies. Her research passions involve educational entertainment (with emphasis on the interactive and video games), ‘playable’ research, and meditative gameplay. She is presently a facilitator at Far Eastern University Manila
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