More than a traditional symbol of Christmas, celebrations with the belen (Nativity scene) carry stories of faith, hope and resilience.
In Tarlac province, the holiday season will not be complete without the yearly Belenismo, which brings out the creativity of municipalities, churches, and communities to create colorful, life-sized belen structures out of simple materials.
Tarlac Heritage Foundation co-founder, Dr. Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay, led a group of judges from Saturday late afternoon until the wee hours of Sunday to see the colorful entries that lit up various part of the province.
Despite being a yearly event, the creativity of the belen makers continues to awe spectators.
“Every year, it’s always a surprise. You see the creativity of people, their hope, their dreams, it’s their vision that they exhibit in their belens, so it’s a personal relationship at this time of the year for communities and people. It’s always a delight when people give tribute to the significance of the birth of Child Jesus in the manger. That is the spirit of Christmas,” Suntay said in an interview.
Belenismo sa Tarlac started in 2007 and not even the Covid-19 pandemic stopped it last year, as the province cemented its title as the “Belen Capital of the Philippines”.
The Belenismo found more significance amid the global health crisis as it reminds people that there is always hope as long as there is faith in their hearts, according to Suntay.
Image Credits: Bernard Testa.