Tarlac Christmas Belen displays honor frontliners

Tarlac Christmas season Belenismo
Entries for Tarlac’s annual Belenismo contest pay tribute to COVID-19 frontliners. Photo from Belenismo sa Tarlac FB.

Tarlac, known for “Belenismo” or the province’s greatest attraction during the Christmas season, is honoring Filipino frontline workers in the fight against the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Belenismo festival is organized annually by Tarlac Heritage Foundation founders Isabel Cojuangco Suntay and Dr. Isa Cojuangco Suntay since 2007 and brings together barangays, municipalities, schools, and businesses to create fully illuminated displays depicting nativity scenes which has earned the province the title of “Belen-making capital of the Philippines”.

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Now on its 13th year, the festival pays tribute to modern-day heroes by featuring medical frontliners and essential workers in the elaborate life-size nativity outdoor displays made from coconut husk, plastic, and other recycled materials for the province’s Belen-making contest.

At least fifty percent of the materials used in the Belen have to be made from indigenous materials.

The Belen-making contest accepted 41 entries registered in four categories on November 21, 2020, after it waas officially opened on November 6, 2020, while adhering to Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines for safe community gatherings.

Entries include the Noah’s Ark with illustrations of medical frontliners from the Municipality of Concepcion.

St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish’s Holy Rosary made of over 12,000 plastic bottles and 3,000 plastic cups to send an eco-friendly message while also encouraging Filipinos to pray for doctors and nurses in the frontlines of the COVID-19 disease. Bamboo slits, rubber tires, and dried palm leaves, among other art objects were also used to represent the birth of Jesus.

The Province of Tarlac says it hopes to inspire hope and showcase Filipino resiliency amid the pandemic through the festival’s creative use of recycled materials to honor frontliners.

Filipino Christmas traditions have been featured in a Disney short animation with a follow-up tutorial teaching fans around the globe how to make the Parol or Filipino star-shaped lantern.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Tarlac for honoring COVID-19 frontliners in this year’s Belenismo festival!

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