The provincial government here spearheaded the “lights on” ceremony that signaled the start of the Festival of Lights, which is now on its third year, featuring 13 famous world theme parks.
The Festival of Lights uses an estimated two million LED lights to lighten up the 5,000 square meters quadrangle of the provincial capitol here.
The provincial capitol building sits on a hill top in Barangay Ipil Heights, overlooking the towns of the province.
Gov. Wilter Yap Palma in an interview said the festival aims to showcase the potentials of this province in terms of tourism and investment.
“This is one way of showcasing (the potentials) of the province of Zamboanga Sibugay and this is for our people to enjoy not only for Sibugaynons but also for the neighboring provinces,” Palma said.
Locals cheered upon seeing the Disney-inspired theme parks like Roger Rabbit, Five & Dime, Peter Pan, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Old Mill, Mickey Mouse, Moana, Frozen, Pinocchio, Transformers, Star Wars, Avengers, and Justice League were lighted one after the other and later simultaneously.
“Every year, we change themes from around the world, but usually we go Disney-inspired focusing on the interests of children. These were all designed as a replica of the Disneyland theme parks for the people instead of spending dollars visiting these themes in the different countries, they could visit here and enjoy all these structures,” said Architect Aristopher Rayat, who led the architectural works of the project.
Costing some PHP2 million, the lights are sponsored by both government and private sectors.
Palma said the festival also provide business opportunities not only to local businessmen but from other provinces as well. Commercial stalls were set up around the capitol grounds, which Palma said is free from payment of fees except for that “they were required to maintain cleanliness.”
Palma said no entrance fee will be collected and even the use of electricity is free of charge.
Daisy Jane Taldon, who manages a stall selling popcorn and shake, expressed gratitude to the provincial government for allowing them to do business without payment of rent and power.
“It is a relief for us since we can instead save the money intended for rent payment to be used to other needs,” said Taldon, who sells popcorn and shake every year.
“We earn enough in our display especially on good weather conditions with thousands of visitors coming here,” Lucy Aliao, another vendor said.
Jayson Imboy, who is a new street food vendor, expressed optimism that he will earn “more than enough” during the festival.
An estimated of 20,000 people, including visitors from nearby areas, gathered at the capitol grounds during the lights on ceremony, which was capped by a 25-minute fireworks display.
Palma said there will be three stages of judging the entries and announcement of winners is set to be held on December 14, although Festival of Lights will culminate in February in time for the provincial anniversary celebration.
The prizes are as follows: first, PHP300,000; second, PHP250,000; third, PHP200,000; and, consolation, PHP100,000. (PNA)