You will know that Christmas is fast approaching when at the start of the “-ber” months carols are already played and the season’s decors are already on sale. Along the highways in major cities in the country especially in Metro Manila, enterprising individuals are turning dark corners and unused portions into bright places as they set up their makeshift stalls selling these dazzling Pinoy symbols: the parol or Christmas lantern.
It’s just mesmerizing as the play of brilliant colors and lights formed into elaborate stars, blooms and bouquets seem to dance around each lantern. Personally, I can’t help but look back on childhood memories as I got drawn into the then simple parol in fascination.
What used to be lanterns made from gossamer and pastel colored papel de hapon has gradually transformed into those made from metallic multicolored foils. Current versions are now electric powered decors. Of course those made from the two previously mentioned materials are still around but the latter is most prevalent along the makeshift stalls.
Translucent capiz shells seems to be the favored material in these kind of lanterns but in larger forms, plastic is used due to the limited size of these shells. Sizes can vary from a foot in diameter to several feet across. Of course, prices range from a thousand to tens of thousands depending on the size and complexity of the design.
What amazes me with these lanterns is the complexity of the designs. From simple five pointed stars inside a ring to multipointed ones that are surrounded by smaller stars or circles painted in different hues. Nativity scenes are rather common and floral motifs might sometimes be found.
Other designs are whimsical plays in geometry with various shapes forms that it will be difficult to choose. Craftsmanship is also good but it pays to check the construction and tidiness of how the electric wires are put into place.
The parol is testament to the Filipino’s creativity and ingenious use of available materials to come up with these dazzling works. If your budget allows it, get these to hang outside of your house and spread the season’s spirit.