Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Paradise of Lights for Pototan’s 14th IWAG Christmas Festival

One of the most delightful things about the Christmas holiday is not just the food, nor the gifts, or the family reunions, but also the sparkling, colorful Christmas lights that are enjoyable. People take pleasure in making their surroundings look nice, especially in the Christmas season.

There won't be a snowflake in sight, but count on the thousands of colorful twinklers, fireworks and a unique tradition that lights up Iloilo in December. With major spectaculars planned in cities and towns throughout the province, discover for yourself why there is no place quite like Iloilo at Christmas time.

Ilonggos celebrate Christmas with joyful exuberance. Feasts and finery await you in every corner of Iloilo. Many towns in the province are now staging their versions of this Christmas spectacle. The municipality of Janiuay celebrates its annual Gugma Sa Pakua; Oton with their annual Light-a-Tree Program and Belen competition; Alimodian’s Christmas Festival; A Journey to Bethlehem and Christmas Tree for New Lucena; Christmas Park in Leon, Mina and Ajuy.

Pototan, Iloilo kicks off the holiday season with the longtime tradition of Christmas lights display on December 16, 2010, 6 p.m. at the municipal plaza obelisk. Diverse, fun holiday activities and events cater to all ages throughout the area.

In 1997, this cherished tradition of the Ilonggos started in this town, best known as the Rice-granary of Western Visayas, and soon spread throughout Iloilo. That tradition is the IWAG Festival of Lights celebration. On its first year, displays and landscape lighting covered the town plaza. Since then the show has grown into one of the regions’ largest and finest.

The IWAG Festival of Lights is one of the most-anticipated and considered as the best holiday light show in the region. Larger-than-life light displays are now part of this glowing show and every year something new is added to keep the show fresh.

The IWAG group is composed of service-oriented Pototanons that functions as a helping hand of the local government and the community. Organized in 1997, the group’s main project was the annual celebration of lights during Christmas. It is aimed on focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the "True Light that Enlightens the World". The group is also instrumental in boosting the socio-cultural and economic development of Pototan.

The history of Christmas lights started with the decoration of a tree using candles as a celebration of the beauty of nature. However, using candles in the tree was an unsafe method because it ignited the whole tree. The history of the Christmas lights powered by electricity dates back to the year 1882 with Edward H. Johnson, the man who worked alongside Thomas Edison, decorated a tree with eighty red, white and blue electric bulbs. Light bulbs were expensive in those days and many could not afford to buy. It was in the 1930s when Christmas trees were decorated with electric lights that started at the White House, at Rockefeller Plaza. Soon, the rest of the world followed the tradition.

The IWAG Festival of Lights is viewable starting December 16 till January 2, 2011, Monday through Sunday from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. The spectacle is located 30 kilometers from Iloilo City. This first-class municipality has a land area of 9,710 hectares subdivided into 50 barangays. It is bounded in the north and northeast by the municipality of Dingle; in the east by Barotac Nuevo; south by New Lucena; west by Mina and northwest by Badiangan.

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