Christmas is here!!!
When I was a kid, the -ber months would automatically mean Christmas was around the corner! There would be a breathless anticipation of the excitement and wonder of the season as the sparkly lights came up, extravagant displays grew around giant mall Christmas trees and carols jingle-jangled in an everlasting playback on anything with a speaker. But the REAL clincher that Christmas was well and truly here, was the traditional parol that would be hung in festive reverence in front of our house. Nanay would bring it out, dust it and make sure it survived storage from Christmas past, then ask Tatay to hang it and check if it still lights up. Then at night, as all the house lights are turned off before bed, us kids would be mesmerized by the changing colors or the steady glow from the bright star lantern that signified Christmas is celebrated in this household.
We’ve had many Christmas lanterns throughout the years and for me, the most memorable parol was a red and white star with the traditional paper trimmings ringed around it and two long, delicate hanging froufrou. I believe Nanay bought it from an outreach program a long time ago. It has long since been retired but I still remeber how it was expertly made of bamboo and paper with a simple bulb. It steadily glowed a bright but warm yellow that was easy on the eyes and reassuring to the heart in the dark of night.
It’s incredibly nostalgic for me to be able to introduce my own kids to the special wonder of the Christmas season. Every time we’d drive around, we would theatrically Ooh! and Aah! at the Christmas finery coming up around the metro. At night, when the lights dramatically come on, sparkling and twinkling, the awe-struck look on their faces is enough to bring back the child-like wonder to my own heart.
What I would really have loved to go to was the Las Piñas Parol Festival last December 13! If my kids were only a bit bigger, I’d have braved the drive to the South and truly treated them to a visual feast of extravagant and exquisitely designed Christmas lanterns! Proving itself the lantern capital of Metro Manila, the Las Pinas baranggays showcased their creations using recycled and indigenous materials at the 7th Parol Festival’s lantern-making competition. The parade and displays were really a special treat! Check out some of the pictures and see if you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of all that! They even had traditional Christmas treats!
The festival is Former Congresswoman of Las Piñas, Mrs. Villar’s brainchild. In 2007, she helped organize the ‘Samahang Magpaparol ng Las Piñas’ and set up the Las Piñas Parol Center, a training area for the lantern-makers. This year, the Parol Festival was held at the Villar Social Institute of Poverty Alleviation & Governance (SIPAG) along C-5 Extension in Pulang Lupa Uno.
What I really wanted to show the kids about the lanterns in the competition was the use of recyclable materials and found objects. The competition also highlights the importance of environmental protection and competitors were only allowedto use recycled materials like shampoo sachets/bottles, cans, bottles, tetra packs, newspapers etc. and natural or indigenous materials such as coconut huks, dried leaves, feathers, shells etc with the lantern frame only made of bamboo.
I would have wanted Oona and Olly to see the first prize winner’s parol! For sure, they would have asked me to make one with them as soon as we got home Well, there’s always next year!