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Saying thanks with the Christmas ‘parol’ and parade

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SAN FRANCISCO—There are many ways overseas Filipinos show their gratitude for the outpouring support and sympathy for the survivors of the Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” One is to express it in our own words verbally or in printed words and incorporating the Visayan “Daghang salamat sa tanan.”

An innovative way is to hang or display a parol (Filipino star lantern) in our windows or front door of our home and in our office, and prominently write, “Maligayang Pasko at Daghang Salamat sa Tanan.” Chances are the non-Filipinos who will see your display will inquire or ask “What does it says?”

The parol is perhaps the quintessential Filipino symbol that distinguishes the Philippines from the rest of the world.

Although it is associated with Christmas, the symbolism and significance of the parol in Filipino culture is profoundly greater than the so-called national symbols or such as Barong Tagalog (male) or Baro’t Saya (female) for national costume, or the cultural symbols Filipinos are known for in America such as adobo, lumpia, pancit and tinikling.

If you look closely at the folk art of the traditional parol, the five-pointed star, you will find the elements of the Philippine flag: the star inside a circle embellished with frills (pabilog) and tassels (buntot or tails).

The three stars in the Philippine national flag stand for the three island groups of the archipelago –Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The sun and its eight rays symbolize kalayaan, the light of liberty, and the regions that first revolted against the invading enemy, the principal source of darkness in the native land.

The Christmas symbol parol represents the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men (Magi) to the manger of the newborn King Jesus Christ.

The star of Bethlehem brought joy to the world. The parol, just like the Star of Bethlehem, is a fount of light, a sign of hope amidst the “darkness” in the world or in one’s being or location.

The catastrophe brought about by super typhoon Yolanda is a wake call for all citizens of the world; but it is also a blessing for it brought us all together.

Our Filipino lantern is our gift to the world. It is the Filipino way of expressing “Maligayang Pasko at Daghang Salamat sa Tanan!”

In conjunction with the San Francisco’s annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade, now on its eleventh year, the organizers are offering free parol making workshops which are held every Friday, from 5:30 to 9:00 at the Bayanihan Community Center on 1010 Mission Street and Sixth Street in San Francisco.

The Parol Festival is now one of the much-awaited and a must-see events in San Francisco during the holiday season.

The Parol Festival and Parade is scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Jessie Square (near St. Patrick’s Church) and Yerba Buena Gardens.

The parol festival is presented by the Filipino American Development Foundation and KulArts, in partnership with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, MJM Management, and St. Patrick’s Parish.

For more information, contact Parol Festival at 415-348-8042, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.bayanihancc.org.

 

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