Friday, December 23, 2011


They are local Christmas lanterns, traditionally star-shaped, made of bamboo and paper.  They come in various sizes and shapes, but the basic star pattern remains the all-time favorite, because it evokes to the Filipinos the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings to the manger.  

The word parol is derived from the Spanish word farol, meaning "lantern".  An artisan named Francisco Estanislao, in 1928, was known to have originally created the five-pointed parol made of bamboo strips covered with papél de japón (Japanese paper).  It was illuminated by a candle or kalburo (carbide).

In the Philippines, the paról has become an iconic Christmas symbol as the Christmas Tree is to Western cultures. The parol has also been traditionally associated with the Simbang Gabi, which is a series of dawn masses that lasts for nine days. And originally, the illuminated lanterns were used by barrio folks to light the paths on the way to church, until electricity became available nationwide.

Many villages, schools, and social groups during the holiday season hold competitions to determine who can make the best parol. One such event is the annual Giant Lantern Festival in Pampanga, which attracts various crafts men and visitors from all over the country.

Recently, here in Panglao Island, a parol exhibit was held at the Troman Building Alona.  These Christmas lanterns (as shown in this photo essay) were created using recycled materials by local students from five different schools.  The exhibit was called "Starry Starry Christmas;" the intention was to spread awareness on the merits of recycling. 

Starry Starry Christmas was conceived and organized by 
educator and art lover, Nina Mancao. 

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For those who have missed  the exhibit, these parols will grace Saffron on December 28th for Amorita's Holiday Charity Dinner and Mini-Concert to Preserve and Promote Boholano Arts. The Loboc Children's Choir will perform.  Please contact Amorita for further information.

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