IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. The Christmas parol made of capiz, fiber glass, abaca, shiny foil, and colored plastic begins to shine in stalls mushrooming along city streets, highways, and sidewalks as early as September. These star-shaped lanterns come in different sizes, shapes, materials, and intricacies. They are made to be displayed to show the happy spirit of the Christmas season.
In Las Piñas City , a community of craftmen fashions star-shaped lanterns from pliant bamboo sticks stucked with colored Japanese paper or cellophane, keeping the age old parol-making tradition alive in this city famous for its Bamboo Organ .
THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM. Hanging a Christmas parol is a very old Filipino tradition. The star-shaped lantern recalls the bright Bethlehem star that guided the shepherds and three wisemen to the Child Jesus.
The parol lit by an electric bulb or blinking lights that we see today started from the simple Spanish farol that was used in the olden days for lighting religious processions and town parades. The candle-powered lantern, perched on a pole was dressed up with frills and embellishments to match the joyful season.
PAROL-MAKING TRADITION. Las Piñas has been known for using bamboo as material for its parol-making industry. We learned that parol-makers based in Barangay E. Aldana learned the craft from their parents. Parol-making is a tradition that is passed on through generations.
To this day, instead of buying ready-made Christmas décor, old-time residents of Las Piñas prefer parols made the old-fashion way to adorn their homes.
The parol-makers begin the old-fashion way of making Christmas lanterns by cutting a long bamboo pole and whittling it into thin, pliant sticks. The sticks are shaped into stars and held together by fine wire.
OLD-FASHIONED PAROL. Over the star-shape bamboo framework, colored plastic cover or Japanese paper is pasted. The parols with colored plastic are made to last outdoor while the parol made of delicate Japanese paper is for indoor use.
As the final touch, frills are added all around and a pair of tail is attached to the base of the star lantern. A light bulb is slipped inside the hallow star. When lit, it seems to warm up the chilly December days.
MIXED-MEDIA CRAFT. Watching a community keep an age-old tradition alive is amazing . The parol-makers we met in Barangay E. Aldana composed mostly of third generation craftsmen who renewed Christmas lantern-making in Las Piñas by combining technology with traditional materials.
EPILOGUE. So when in Las Piñas this holiday season, take the time to drop by the parol-makers in Barangay E. Aldana and get a simple old-fashion parol.
-13 December 2012 | Feast of Sta. Lucia
The name Lucia is derived from Lux, Lucis meaning “Light”