By Glen S. Ramos

TARLAC City – Even with the current pandemic, the spirit and the symbol of Christmas will not be dampened and deferred as the province of Tarlac, which is known as the “Belen Capital of the Philippines” continues to celebrate the coming holidays by holding the 14th Belenismo sa Tarlac.” affair.

The yearly competition brings out the camaraderie and creativity of the community including municipalities, churches, and even uniformed personnel by constructing and arranging colorful and full-sized “Belen”.Dr. Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay, Tarlac Heritage Foundation co-founder who also initiated the yearly activity together with a group of judges on November 14, 2021, visited the various “Belens” in different parts of the province to evaluate and select the winning entry.

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“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.

There are 53 entries who will compete for this year’s event. Winners will be announced in December next month.

Dr. Suntay said that everybody is welcome to grace the colorful “Belens” as long everyone follows the community health protocols like wearing facemasks observing social distancing.“With cases of Covid -19 continuing to decline, we hope that the economy can come back to life and tourism will boom once again and Filipinos can come together in the spirit of love, peace, and hope for 2022,” Suntay concluded.

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