U.P. Lantern Parade

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Delegates from UP Mindanao parade the Sarimanok lantern in the 2009 UP Lantern Parade. (Photo by M Dela Merced courtesy of Flick.com. Some rights reserved.)

The U.P. Lantern Parade is a parade of large lantern-floats around the oval of the main campus of the University of the Philippines (U.P.), the Diliman campus. The first parade was held in 1922 but it was institutionalized as a university celebration in 1934 by then UP President Jorge Bocobo. This annual U.P. tradition and competition takes place on the late afternoon of the last day of classes before the Christmas break, just a few hours after the Oblation Run.

The UP lantern parade attracts crowds of people from all over Metro Manila. Each U.P. unit and college creates a lantern-float on a given theme and presents a brief program to accompany the presentation of the lantern before the judges and audience gathered at the administration hall. An Over-All Best Lantern Grand Prize is awarded, along with "Judges' Choice" and "Most Resourceful." Cash prizes are given to the winners.

Having for many years swept up all the prizes, since 1929 to 1989, the College of Fine Arts (CFA) no longer joins the University competition. Instead, groups of fine arts students try to outdo each other in creating lanterns on the theme assigned by the CFA. The parade of the fine arts follows the main lantern parade and promises to provide the most attractive and creative floats in the parade. In 2004, for example, the college floats and lanterns featured Filipino folklore and mythological creatures like the tikbalang, kapre, and nuno sa punso. In celebration of its centennial, their lanterns in 2007 paid tribute to National Artists for the Arts.

At the height of the Tuition Fee Increase issue in 2006, the UP Board of Regents held a meeting on the same day of the Lantern Parade. Although the Parade was officially postponed, the College of Fine Arts went on with their own parade around the Diliman campus--proof of the icon and tradition status of the Lantern Parade.


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