A week ago, I was invited by Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to witness the 3rd annual staging of Sillag Festival, the Poro Point Festival of Lights in San Fernando La Union.
The Poro Point Festival of Lights 2014
Sillag or “Sellag” means moonbeam in the Ilocano language, and it comes with a whole host of positive connotations. Moonlight is said to bring happiness and enjoyment, and quite possibly the association comes from hard work during daylight hours and the fact that relaxation then happened in the evening.
Sillag Festival 2014
Sillag today is the festival when San Fernando City in La Union comes alive to enjoy both the daytime and the night. Sillag Festival also showcases one of BCDA’s freeport zones – Poro Point Freeport Zone (PPFZ) as a premier tourist destination and investment hub.
Seafood Lunch Stopover at Matutina Restaurant
The events started with Holy Mass in the Poro Point Management Corp conference room at 8am on Friday the 7th. While we were still on our way to La Union, everyone in the Sillag festival village are already busy with fun events.
Sillag 2014 Photo Exhibit (photo by BCDA Group Facebook)
Upon arriving at the Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, we checked in our bags and enjoyed our afternoon having Pizza at Olives restaurant. After having snacks, we headed to the Sillag Village to witness the most exciting performances from the marching bands from the Philippine Military Academy which brings a lot of energy and a feeling of playfulness to the events.
Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point La Union – The official residence of Sillag Festival Media Participants
The morning was also time for an art contest and all day visitors could visit the Sillag Delights Trade and Food Fair. La Union specialties were around every corner, and if you like good food, this was the place to be.
Pizza at Olives Restaurant
There were also Zumba performances and eventually the Sunset Run for Hope in the early evening. This was mostly a fun run for people who want to inspire and be inspired, and get energized for the coming year. Sillag Village was the focal point where most of the excitement happened, and every activity involved light in many forms.
Mini Garden inside Sillag Village
A Thousand Lanterns for a Thousand Dreams
By far the most beautiful and well-attended part of Sillag is the Hope Lantern Ceremony. Participants and attendees were treated to a unique and beautiful display of light with an uplifting and hopeful theme. In the past, paper lanterns with burning lights were used to celebrate, but the concern of a forest/ grass fire has changed the format.
Sillag 2014 Hope Lantern Ceremony
This year, lit balloons were released into the sky. While they may not pose a fire hazard, it’s hard not to think about all that rubbers ending up on our beaches and in the ocean thats why the organizers made sure that only 2000 balloons will be released to avoid huge environmental risk.
Parades on Land and Sea
The Lantern Fluvial Parade is the parade on water which features boats of all kinds and sizes decorated with lights. This was a big highlight, as something about the lit boats floating about on the water felt slightly magical.
Poro Point Lighthouse
The fluvial parade was followed by a spectacular fireworks display that wowed the spectators while waiting for the street dance competition to start.
After the fireworks display, we were treated to yet another incredible Lantern Parade, with hundreds of people dressed in various detailed and incredible costumes, all lit with a variety of types of LEDs and other electric lights. There’s really nothing like a night parade that uses lighting to highlight the beauty and celebration going on.
Master Development Plan of Poro Point Freeport Zone
The Poro Point Management Corporation – One of the BCDA’s subsidiaries is managing the 146-hectare property. The entire property is now popularly known as Poro Point Freeport Zone and the BCDA recently announced the Master Development Plan for the site which will include an Integrated Tourism Complex, own seaport and an airport.
BCDA, Thunderbird and PPMC unveil the masterplan of the Poro Point Freeport Zone (Photo by BCDA Group)
One of the priorities under the Master Development Plan is the upgrade of San Fernando Airport in La Union. The airport upgrade will include a mall complex inside the airport terminal, touted to become a small-scale version of Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Group Selfie Shot ontop of Poro Point Lighthouse
All in all, the Sillag Festival of Lights was yet again uplifting and inspiring just like the previous year. A beautiful gathering of people all interested in bringing light and joy to everyone involved. – Melo Villareal