Despite being only two years in age, the Sillag Festival also called the Festival of Lights 2013 in San Fernando, La Union is slowly putting the city in the tourism map.
Day one of the festival, which kicked off on Saturday, 4 p.m. at the Thunderbird Resorts in the Poro Point Freeport Zone, featured a performance of marching bands, a fun run, Un-Identified Flying Object (UFO) formation, and the ceremonial lighting of the Sillag village.
On Sunday, activities will include an air show, street dancing competition, pyro musical show, and a concert/variety show as well has the much-awaited Lantern Fluvial Parade and the releasing of Hope Lanterns in the evening.
Poro Point Management Corporation (PPMC) president and CEO Florante Gerdan explained in an interview that the Sillag Festival, which was first conceptualized last year, celebrated for the first time.
"It was only a one-day activity last year, this year, it is now a two-day activity," Gerdan said. "We plan to extend the days celebration in the coming years."
Gerdan said that after last year's festival, he and his team had been thinking of ways to contribute to what was already bringing in tourists in the area.
"We conceptualize night activities because during day time, tourists usually go to Baguio City and other tourism destinations but by four o'clock of everyday, we shall have more activities here," Gerdan explained.
"It has put San Fernando and the province of La Union in the tourism map because Sillag is already being compared to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark, Pampanga and the Panagbenga Flower Festival in Baguio," he said.
But just like newly born festivals, Gerdan said that so far, the local government of San Fernando, the PPMC, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Thunderbird Pilipinas Hotels and Resorts were making do with what they had.
However, he also mentioned that next year, he has high hopes that they can triple or quadruple the activities and further publicize the festival.
Among tourism businesses being handled by Thunderbird included a seaport, airport, food products and global resources which will cater to distant learning in the future.
Gerdan said that he and his team are further developing open spaces for business in the area.
"For example, is a lighthouse — we already have a design for the six-hectare lighthouse which we will bid maybe in the next three months," Gerdan said.
"We shall be developing a 50-hectare light industrial area and finish the master planning by December this year and we will also be opening up an airport terminal," he added.
The amount spent for the funding of the entire Sillag Festival, including contributions from partnerships totaled to some P 5.8 million, Gerdan said.