Tangub City PH ‘Christmas capital’


EARLY CHRISTMAS A replica of the Colosseum glitters with lights at the opening of the 20th year of the Christmas Symbols Festival in Tangub City. Over 25,000 people from different parts of Mindanao witnessed the opening rites of the festival on Saturday. RICHEL V. UMEL / INQUIRER MINDANAO

TANGUB CITY—Lighted pyramids and cathedrals, glittering temples and pagodas, glowing lanterns and Disneyland characters—they came together to bathe this city in light and color as the Christmas season officially began here on Saturday night.

Tangub residents call it Christmas Symbols Festival, a “feast for the eyes” from which the city derived its moniker “Christmas Symbols Capital of the Philippines.”

The festival is now on its 20th year, and more than 25,000 spectators from different parts of Mindanao came for the opening rites of the 40-day celebration of Christmas.

Jennifer Wee-Tan, chair of the City Tourism Council, said she hoped the glittering symbols of the Yuletide season brought fresh inspiration and a positive outlook to peoples of the region.

The festival has transformed the local government center and public plaza here into a Christmas theme park.

And true to local leaders’ promise of making the festival’s attractions a love offering to the peoples of the region, the organizers charge an entrance fee of only P1.

Impressed by the beauty of the opening presentations, Misamis Occidental Gov. Herminia Ramiro said the festival was not only for the eyes but also for the soul.

“These are truly symbols of love, given the delicate artistry invested in each [symbol],” Ramiro said.

This year’s festival carries the theme “Christmas Around the World,” which explains the famous world landmarks featured in the presentations.

“For the past 19 years, we have shown the many nuances of Christmas in the Philippines. This year, we hope to bring the world here, set amid the Filipino way of celebrating Christmas,” said Vice Mayor Edemar Alota.

Alota said he hoped the theme would deepen Filipinos’ knowledge of various peoples, their society and culture.

The portrayals of world landmarks come as a mix of ancient and contemporary motifs. Reproductions of the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico stand side by side with models of the  Brasilia Cathedral and  Hong Kong Disneyland.

There are also models that represent cultures steeped in meditative practices, like the Lotus Temple of India, a Japanese pagoda, and the Besakih Temple of Bali.

Big crowd drawers on Saturday were the models of  the Temple to Heaven of Beijing, the Colosseum of Rome, the Eiffel Tower of Paris and the Petronas Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur.

A highlight of this year’s festival is the grand reunion of the  nationally acclaimed Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe, which will present “Dances of the World” on Dec. 22.

Every day, local artists perform for visitors to the park. Tourists can tour the festival’s attractions in calesas or train for a minimal fee.


Art contest

The festival is actually an art contest in three categories: plaza booths, with 16 clusters of local and national government agencies this year; giant lanterns, with entries from 28 barangays; and Christmas arches, with entries from 27 barangays erected along  the national highway and major roads in the city.

The lanterns adorn Saint Michael Cathedral, the Catholic city’s center of faith, built in the latter part of the 19th century by missionaries bound for Lanao but whose ship was swept to this parts by a powerful storm.

The  arches proclaim the Christmas season’s message to travelers, inviting them to the city and promising them great adventure.

The entries are judged on creativity, uniqueness, artistry, aesthetic appeal and message.

All the entries are made from  materials found in Tangub, a city dependent on agricultural and marine resources like corn cob, rice hull, sea shell, coconut husk, coconut shell, sea grass and bamboo.

Recycled materials like cartons, plastic bottles and bottle caps are also used.

Humble beginnings

The festival had its beginnings in 1992 when the local government set up Christmas booths in the plaza to brighten the area at night.

Mayor Philip Tan said the lights were also intended to help his urban-bred wife, Jennifer, adjust to Tangub’s country atmosphere. He was then just starting out in politics.

To his surprise, Tan said,  hordes of people came to the plaza, inspiring local officials to make the Christmas booths a yearly event.

The festival inspired the residents to employ their artistry, creativity and imagination and they joined contests during the festival.

The festival proved a success and in 2000 the Department of Tourism recognized it and gave Tangub the moniker Christmas Symbols Capital of the Philippines.

The local government is making a bid for the longest festival in the Philippines. The Department of Tourism’s regional director, Catalino Chan, said the festival could even be one of the longest in the world.

Tan said the local government was keeping the entrance fee low to encourage more visitors to come. The organizers raise funds from corporate sponsors, which advertise their services throughout the festival.

Visitors to the park bring business to the food and souvenir shops in the area.

Yuletide tours

Vice Gov. Henry Oaminal is inviting tourists to consider Misamis Occidental as an alternative holiday destination.

The province has been developing its tourism potential and it now has mountain and sea resorts that offer nature tourism.

Visitors will enjoy Tangub’s  culinary delights, especially seafoods like mudcrabs, shrimps and prawns.

Basking in Tangub’s “spectacle of lights” will be a grand finale to a visit to the city, Oaminal said.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • bundee

     Colosseum is not a proper symbol. It signifies death and violence for gladiators for the sake of pleasure for the audience. Christmas is about hope, peace, and new life.

  • D_BystandeR

    I am amazed at the success of Tangub City having garnered the “moniker” as the Philippines Christmas capital. It only amplifies to prove the creative talents and community leadership of the Tangub City government headed by the able and dynamic leadership of its City Mayor Philip Tan. This kind-hearted guy, I cannot forget him, because he was one year ahead of my son in the college of law in USC, Cebu City, and my son was able to borrow a book from him that he needed very much at that time. My son is now a lawyer just like him, the city mayor. May your successful term as City Mayor of Tangub be a stepping stone to propel you to aspire for some higher and lofty government positions in the years to come!

  • kilabot

    two capitals.
    nice to hear something good comes from that area;
    where ozamis is the capital of kuratong, robbery, holdup, smuggling, and whatever is criminal;
    tangub produces something creative, productive and beautiful; 
    i hear tangub is also known for its cultural dance troupe that ends top 3 in cebu festivals.

    keep it up tangub; are you friendly to tourists? 
    as for ozamis, may its people learn to earn an honest living and leave notoriety behind.

    btw, are you affected by typhoon pablo? hope everything’s safe.

  • JEO

    I once visited this festival on my elementary to high school years. Really pretty amazing site!

    Good Job to tangub City! ozamis City really sucksss big time!

  • JEO

    people all over the region come to this place to relax and enjoy the spirit of christmas. It’s a ggod place for family to bond!

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