The best ‘Belen’ in Tarlac has been crowned

Belenisimo sa Tarlac is an annual event in my home province where different organizations and companies decorate their own belens, which is a tableau that represents the Nativity Scene, to compete with one another.

This year, the best belen has already been chosen.

SM City Tarlac bagged as the Grand Champion together with the Philippine Army in the 11th Belenismo sa Tarlac. This year’s awards night was held at Robinson’s Athletic Field on December 1, 2018.

SM City Tarlac’s entry to this year’s Belenismo showcases not only a display that pleases the eyes but a centerpiece that refreshes one’s spirituality. Taking inspiration from the church—the house of God—the Belen sits on a backdrop of stained glass, reminiscent of the devotion we have as we submit in prayer before the Almighty. The multi-colored panels, 16 feet to 20 feet in height, refract light adding a whole new dimension to the display.

Sourced from discarded stained glass windows of different churches in Luzon, the colorful backdrop was carefully put together. Augmenting some panels and mending broken ones, the Belen made use of one of Tarlac’s main produce—sugar. The melted-then-hardened crystals resulted in faux glass panels.

The sinamay fabric—an indigenous material made from abaca— was used in the sacred characters’ clothes. The base of the platform on which the display sits upon was made of more than 3,000 recycled glass bottles, which reflect off the light from the stained glass panels.

The platform was wrapped with hundreds of green flowers handcrafted from the collected 10,000 pieces of green plastic bottles through the Trash to Cash initiative of the mall. The Belen also displays four translations of the “Prayer before the Belen” in English, Filipino, Kapampangan, and Ilocano.

The Guests of Honor present during the awards night were DND Sec Delfin Lorenzana, DOLE Sec Silvestre Bello III, DILG Sec Eduardo Año, DSWD Sec Rolando Joselito Bautista, DOE Sec Alfonso Cusi, CAB Sec Karlo Alexei Nograles, DAR Sec John Castriciones, NSA Sec Hermogenes Esperon, and Head of Tarlac Heritage Foundation Dra. Issa Cojuangco Suntay.

A total of 54 entries competed for this year’s Belenismo. Truly, this showcases not only the spirituality of Tarlaquenos but also their versatility and resourcefulness by using indigenous materials as well as recycled ones.

If you ever drive by Tarlac, make sure to take photos of these beautiful belens!

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