Tarlac’s spirit-lifting tradition continues

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    THE Tarlac Heritage Foundation is spreading good Christmas cheer and brightening up the mood amid these difficult times.

    A total of 41 participants in five categories joined this year’s edition of “Belenismo sa Tarlac,” the province-wide belen-making competition that showcases the story of the nativity, a spirit-lifting balm during the coronavirus crisis.

    There were 16 participants in the community category, seven in the church category, five in the monumental category, seven in the grand non-municipal category and six in the grand municipal category.

    The project is led by Doña Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay and her daughter Isa of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation Inc. (Photos by Rhoy Cobilla)

    The project, a member of the Federacion Española de Belenistas, is led by Doña Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay and her daughter Isa of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation Inc. It has run for 13 years now.

    The municipalities of San Clemente and Moncada won the grand prize for the grand municipal category, while the Philippine Army clinched the top spot for the grand non-municipal category.

    McDonald’s Capas bested all other aspirants in the monumental category. The Belen Ning Macara bagged the first place for the community category, while Saint Michael the Archangel Parish and San Roque Parish were awarded first prize for the church category.

    The winning entries this year were judged based on the theme and composition, which feature intricacy of design, quality of workmanship; choice of colors; use of materials; image of the Christmas crèche, and the prayer before it; lighting, which provides a solemn but festive atmosphere and focuses on the significant points of the display; and overall impact, which leaves a lasting impression on viewers.

    Some of the brightest belens in a dark time

    The Philippine Army belen entry takes its inspiration from the rainbow – seven distinct colors blend harmoniously to form a resplendent show of pigment – which stands as a symbol of God’s mercy, peace and hope especially in this time of the COVID-19.

    Good things have come out of this public health crisis and no matter how difficult life under the pandemic may seem, people must never lose faith, stay optimistic, remain united, believe and commit to working as one nation, the army said.

    The Belen Ning Macara worked on the theme of “Quarantine Plants” to gratify the hearts of plantitos and plantitas and to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. The belen symbolizes the resiliency of Filipinos with its lively lightings, strong color of green indicating fresh plants collected during the quarantine period.

    McDonald’s Capas created the “Auspice Maria” belen, whose main frame is the crown of Virgin Mary made from recycled birthday party balloon sticks sprayed with gold color.

    It used 200 pieces of tinapa bitse sprayed with different colors, and at the back of it are the hand-painted images of frontliners as a tribute to their contribution during this pandemic.

    This Christmas should be dedicated to the frontliners for continuously keeping everyone out of harm’s way and in the pink, and being the reason why they can cautiously celebrate it, according to the fast food outlet.

    The Municipality of Moncada’s belen, which was designed by Christian Derek Aquino, carried the theme “The Savior Has Come, We Heal As One” to convey that it is a shared responsibility to heal a town or nation.

    Many belens were not spared from the recent typhoon Ulysses but Tarlaqueños were able to repair the damages before the event opened, thanks to their desire and bayanihan spirit.

    The Tarlac Heritage Foundation welcomes spectators to drive by the belens and requests that they wear masks and face shields and observe social distancing as well as follow the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ guidelines.