OF all the Christmas decorations that we put during the holidays, Filipinos have a unique symbol for Christmas—the parol. In the Philippines, star-like lanterns or “parol” light up streets and houses in the Philippines as early as September. Compared to the Christmas pine trees that symbolize the yuletide in other countries, the parol has a unique place in Filipino Christmas celebration. According to the book “A Christmas Compendium” by J. John, light adds an atmospheric and magical feel to Christmas, whether they are on a tree or in the streets. Historians suggest different origins for the parol. In the website myparol.com, it said parols were brought by the Spaniards when they spread Christianity in the country and was originally used to light the way or streets when people attend Misa de Gallo. Simbang gabi or Misa de Gallo was another tradition brought by the Spanish, according to Father Rufino Secson Jr., chancellor, Archdiocese of Manila and chaplain at Greenbelt 1 chapel. As an agricultural country then, he said friars made the masses early so Filipinos can attend the mass before going to work. After attending the masses, Filipinos would hang their parols on their window and streets become aglow with lights. At one point or another, each of us have tried doing a parol project for a school project or might have watched Lantern Competition in Pampanga and UP’s Lantern Festival in Diliman or “Parolan” in Los Baños. I can still remember how I would cut papel de hapon in grade school for my parol wooden framework. But for the high school students of Bauan High School who made the lanterns on display at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), parols showcase their creativity. When I visited the CCP last weekend, different lanterns from the Batangas high school were on display at the lobby made up of everyday materials like painted palay, mongo beans and garlic and onions. Truly, the parol is a unique Christmas symbol and a showcase of our Filipino ingenuity. I hope in this financial meltdown, families can also be ingenious in celebrating the Christmas season like what the Bauan high school students did. Do you have a parol at your window? Have you made one before? What does it mean for you?
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FORGET the horrible movie. If you want real Dungeons & Dragons goodness, watch the animated TV series that premiered back in 1983 as a co-production between Marvel Productions and the then publisher of D&D, TSR (which was acquired by Wizards of the Coast in 1997). Remember Venger? And Tiamat? Good times, heh :) Here's a YouTube clip of the intro. And just for kicks, here's a YouTube clip of one of those old D&D TV commercials for the table top role-playing game. Yup, I'm talking real dice and pen and paper :)