Bright and colorful parols lighting the holidays

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Parol - Christmas Lantern
The nativity scene at the center of a parol fittingly drives home the reason for the season along a parol stall at a Makati highway.

This is the third Christmas feature for 2008. The other three are Bibingka, puto bumbong and simbang gabi, Divisoria Christmas shopping rush and Cordova pabuto.

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.

Parol - Christmas Lantern
A man deftly makes his parol with capiz shells, paint and cheap Chinese made electric lights on a bamboo frame.

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.

Parol - Christmas Lantern
5 pointed small stars ring around larger multipointed ones that shines and lights and dances.

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.

Parol - Christmas Lantern
An icon of the Santo Nino is flanked by parols. This seems to be a very common feature in many stores.

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.

Parol - Christmas Lantern
Different choices of voltages? The customer has to choose 🙂

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.

Parol - Christmas Lantern
With all set up and ready for sale, its all a waiting game for customers.

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.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

13 thoughts on “Bright and colorful parols lighting the holidays

  1. those are huge and beautiful lantern estan. wala ka na talaga masasabi sa ingenuity ng pinoy. merry christmas to you and happy vacation too.

  2. I miss those parols made of kapis. They are truly pinoy. I promised myself that one chritmas, i will have one for my home. 🙂

    Very nice shots.

  3. Hi Estan, I loved this article! As this year’s holiday is fast approaching, could you do another post on just local Cebu parols and the best places to purchase them? I love parols and am always on the lookout for a new one to hang. My favorites are still the old ones made of paper with the cut paper comets hanging below. Maayong Pasko!

  4. I just want to inquire how much is your small star parol capiz made with different colors.. I need 2 dozen may i know how much each? Please email your contact no. Upon received my message. Thanks..please reply asap.

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