If there’s one thing Lady Gaga, Manny Pacquiao, an Ifugao tribesman, lambanog and a grande-sized caramel frappuccino have in common, it’s that they are all part of UP Diliman’s Lantern Parade—as incarnations made from various plastic, cardboard and paper mache materials, along with kimono-clad shojos, LGBT rights advocates in violet, and UP’s very own ikot jeepney.
School pride aside, you definitely can’t go wrong with dragging along your whole barkada, camera-lugging buddy, or even your 76-year-old lola to take in the sights and sounds of this 89-year-old UP tradition, even if you’re not a certified isko or iska (Tip: get to Palma Hall before 3 p.m. to get prime seats).
Here’s why: One, you get a taste of pop culture, social commentary and just plain fun mixed in one big salad bowl, while letting out a loud “Woohoo!” at all 50-something floats you see.
Floats range from jaw-dropping (picture more than 200 balloons tied to a floating house, or a full-sized kalesa hidden beneath a deftly crafted jeepney), to amusingly entertaining. With these floats, UP staff unleash, among others, their inner breakdance guru; a fashion show on a budget, featuring proudly Pinoy creations; and beloved vintage icons such as Mario, Tetris and Gundam mascots. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.
Two, the Lantern Parade is art with a conscience. With a number of organizations within UP taking a stand on urgent issues such as the RH bill, the Philippine Airlines Employee Association dispute, frat violence and LGBT rights, these floats go beyond merely being crowd-pleasers. The designs become food for thought and help get talks on current events rolling among the young and the once young.
Three, joining the Lantern Parade gives one a chance to experience being part of a bigger community celebrating a shared heritage.
If you missed it, here’s what went on in between the shoots of large TV networks during the Lantern Parade.
Photographs taken by and published with permission from Joseph Cheng (www.josephacheng.