Jun 24, 2024

The Honda Celebration of Light has been held annually for over 30 years. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/CelebrationOfLight

June 1, 2023 - This year’s Honda Celebration of Light (HCOL) in Vancouver will be especially exciting for Canadian Filipinos. For the first time in the world’s longest-running offshore fireworks competition, the Philippines’ Blue Peacock Fireworks is set to wow audiences on July 29 with what it promises to be a light and sound show highlighting the country’s story of its struggle towards independence. 

In an exclusive interview with Canadian Filipino Net (CFNet), Blue Peacock’s show designer Robert Basihan shared that the show will tell the “story of how we got colonized, liberated and eventually gained our independence” from Spain, the US and Japan. To provide a taste of Filipino music, Basihan included an OPM (Original Pilipino Music) soundtrack by singer Angeline Quinto, titled “Choose Philippines.”

According to its company brochure, Blue Peacock Fireworks based in Sta. Maria, Bulacan is regarded as one of the Philippines’ promising names in the pyrotechnic industry and has continually won awards in both Asia and North America. In a media release, HCOL event organizers note that Blue Peacock has “won more awards than all competing companies…so be ready for a colourful show.”

In 1998 when the Philippines commemorated its 100 years of independence, Blue Peacock Fireworks staged a pyromusical fireworks display with teams from the US, Hong Kong, Germany and China. In 2015, it was commissioned to stage a pyromusical show using the SkyRanch Eye, the tallest Ferris wheel in the Philippines located in Tagaytay. 

Despite this being the first Philippine entry to the annual fireworks show, Basihan is no stranger to the competition. In 2014 and 2017, he co-designed the Japanese entries to HCOL, both of which won the grand prize. 

“I contributed to the design of the two shows because I told my Japanese friend who owns the company that we need to win so the design should be unbeatable,”recalled Basihan. “I also helped team Korea win the 2018 Honda Celebration of Lights againas technical director.”

In 2018, Basihan likewise collaborated with the UK team Jubilee Fireworks to put up a show at the Pattaya Fireworks Festival in Thailand.   “UK Jubilee is one of the winningest teams that wehad invited to join the Philippine International Pyromusical Competition staged at the Philippines’ Manila Bay,”Basihan told CFNet.“I was the technical director and organizer also of Platinum Fireworks and SM Mall of Asia from 2010 to 2015.”

It took almost eight years for Basihan and the Blue Peacock Fireworks to make their way to the HCOL roster.  Of the Philippines’ chances of winning this year, Basihan exudes both confidence and caution. “This year is a close one since one of the competitors is from Australia, a team that has a winning tradition as well,” he shared with CFNet. “But we are not going to give it up easily without a fight.”

BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and SportLana Popham said, “I join the hundreds of thousands of people who are eagerly awaiting the return of the Honda Celebration of Light. This iconic event has become more than a dazzling display of fireworks. It’s become a gathering place for people of all generations and backgrounds for a celebration of music, food, and culture – and a true summer highlight in B.C.”

The other two competitors for this year’s HCOL are Australia on July 22 and Mexico on July 26. Family-friendly activities start at 2pm with fireworks starting at 10pm from the barges along Vancouver’s English Bay. Music simulcast can be heard on CFMI Rock 101 or via live streaming. Voting begins on July 22, and the winner will be announced August 2. For tickets and more information, visit www.hondacelebrationoflight.com

About the Author
Rachel Ramos-Reid started writing for magazines and newspapers when she was still a junior at the University of the Philippines’ Communication degree program majoring in Journalism. She continued to write in a public relations/corporate communications capacity in various private and government offices until moving out of the country in 1997 to work as Programme Officer for the arts and culture branch of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-SPAFA) in Bangkok, Thailand. At the end of her term, Rachel found herself immigrating to Canada in the year 2000 and again searching for new beginnings. Currently she is the Executive Assistant to a small rural college on Vancouver Island.

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