The Philippines is very well known for the longest celebration of Christmas. Once the “ber months” (September-December) hits, Christmas decorations, colorful lights and Holiday music pops out everywhere. Amidst all the Santa Clauses, snow mans, Christmas lights and Christmas trees that usually sets the holiday spirits of our houses, one decoration is truly Pinoy: the PAROL, a lantern shaped commonly like a star.
A tradition believed to have started in the province of Pampanga, the parol signifies the giant star that guided the three kings to the barn where the baby Jesus was born.
The first parol made in Pampanga was that of Francisco Estanislao of Sta. Lucia, San Fernando, which was made of bamboo and paper dyed with natural colorings extracted from plants. The practice was then carried out through generations, as parol makers through time experimented with the use of Japanese paper, plastic, steel, capiz and now, fiber glass.
Since the 1900s, parol making became a way of life for the Fernandinos. The parol has evolved from a simple bamboo framed star to an artistically designed capiz lantern that is well received by international buyers.
Along the Jose Abad Santos Avenue in the City of San Fernando, parols are displayed everywhere. Vendors show off their creations for the passerby’s delight and these can be availed to decorate for your own homes. These parols are well known to be sturdy, well designed and with a traditional, sentimental spirit that is perfect for the Christmas season.
To get there:
There are regular bus trips from Manila to San Fernando, Pampanga.
From the terminal, take a tricycle or a jeepney to Jose Abad Santos Avenue (formerly known as the Olongapo-Gapan road)
Parols are available for 150php ($3) and up!
Make sure to haggle for the best price.