7 August 2017 | Manila, Philippines

Placed on a 10-feet platform and standing 20 feet-high on the grounds of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the ASEAN 50 Ceremonial Lantern is a centerpiece of one of the major celebrations commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The said ASEAN milestone coincides with the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN 2017.

The lantern, symbolic of the emblems of the ASEAN, will be lit 50 years to the day of the association’s founding on August 8, 2017 at 7 PM. The ceremony leading up to the landmark lighting event will be graced by Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (as Special Guest of Honor) and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano to deliver the Welcome Remarks.

The Landmark Lighting will be held simultaneously with ASEAN Member States participating in the occasion, and 74 local government units across the Philippines. The event is a symbolic gesture that expresses the theme of the ASEAN 50 festivities, “Under one Light, we are one ASEAN.”

The Ceremonial Lantern: A Filipino icon with an ASEAN flavor

“First of all, of course, we have the ASEAN logo there at the middle and the flags of the ASEAN member states,” said Queng Reyles, Program Manager of the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA), on the look of the ceremonial lantern. “We have the vinta sails, symbolizing the water that connects us, connects the countries, the ASEAN. And of course, the colors of the ASEAN member states, the color of the flags of the ASEAN member states,” she continued.

Reyles also noted that Philippine elements that is also common in ASEAN Member States is reflected in the lantern’s design, such as the Anahaw leaf, the jasmine flower, and the sampaguita.

The Ceremonial Lantern, which would reflect the richness in the region’s diversity, is inspired from a famous Filipino Christmas ornament called parol. It is a star-shaped ornament traditionally made out of bamboo sticks and bears a variety of colors. The pattern for the first parol is known to have come from Francisco Estanislao, an artisan from the Philippine province of Pampanga, who created the now seasonally ubiquitous decor in 1908.
An oversized and much more modernized version of the parol, will take the spotlight at the Landmark Lighting on August 8.

The Grand Parade leading to the Landmark Lighting

The ASEAN Landmark Lighting on August 8 will be preceded with a Grand Parade. The latter will start with a ceremonial blowing of horns by the Philippine Coast Guard, with the parade proper starting from the south road of Luneta and passing through Roxas Boulevard. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that Roxas Boulevard’s south bound lane will be closed once the parade enters the road. Parade-goers will be occupying about two lanes of the southbound lane going to CCP.

A float designed by Filipino visual artist Toym Imao will be the lead of the parade. According to Reyles, the float’s design is symbolic of the Filipino Sarimanok (a legendary bird) and painted in different ASEAN colors. “In the float will be models dressed in the national costumes of the ASEAN countries. This will be followed by traditional Higantes of the Philippine,” Reyles said.

Higantes are paper-mâché giants dressed in various Filipino costumes and measures 10-12 feet in height and 4-5 feet in diameter.

The parade will also feature street dancers that will represent regional dance festivals in the Philippines. There will also be a contingent of around 500 people from the Department of Education, students, and drum and bugle groups, plus a marching band from the Philippine city of Las Piñas.

Once the parade reaches the CCP grounds, and the contigents of the said parade is introduced, it will start the main performance at the CCP.

In terms of the performances at the CCP, the Artistic Director of the ASEAN Landmark Lighting Maribel Legarda, said that it will reflect a rootedness in tradition melded with the contemporary. Ten ASEAN popstars, representing each ASEAN Member State, will be performing prior to the Landmark Lighting proper.

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