IN PICTURES: 2nd annual Parol Lantern Festival shines light on Filipino Christmas tradition

Romeo Garcia remembers Parol Lanterns when he was 4 and living in the Philippines.

“I come from a big family. We were living in a small bamboo hut. We lived in a simple province,” he said. “At Christmas we would make the Parols from whatever materials we could find. It was always a big festivity. Parols helped unify the Filipino people. We would always have one lit up in our home.”

Now many years later, Garcia is a chocolatier on Pine Avenue, and for the second year he has brought a Parol Lantern Festival to the street outside his store.

More than 400 people braved the chilly air Saturday evening to celebrate the Filipino tradition of the lantern. The Parol is a five-point star, which is traditionally made from bamboo. It’s intended to represent the Star of Bethlehem that led three wise men to Jesus.

Claudette Baldemor is a volunteer who also worked on the festival. She said that the star is also is a metaphor for the victory of light over darkness that fuels Filipino hopes and dreams during the holiday season.

Baldemor was 9 when she moved to the United States from the Philippines. “I remember making one in grade school but it wasn’t very good. It didn’t even look like a star. Now they have Parols that you can plug in. But they’re very expensive,” she said.

“Because they’re imported.”

Leland Simpliciano shows off a lantern he made at a booth at the second annual Parol Lantern Festival at Pine and Fourth in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

A Filipino artist named Gingee dances to one of her Filipino world beat songs at the second annual Parol Lantern Festival at Pine and Fourth in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

Claudette Baldemor works with Jars Ministries, an organization that sponsors medical and dental missions to the Phillipines. The second annual Parol Lantern Festival was held at Pine and Fourth in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

Stage technician John Eric Orquiza works on hanging the Parol Lantern on the stage before the festival began. The second annual Parol Lantern Festival was held at Pine and Fourth in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

The Na Hoku O Ka Lani dancers perform at the second annual Parol Lantern Festival at Pine and Fourth in downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

The Na Hoku O Ka Lani dancers perform at the second annual Parol Lantern Festival at Pine and Fourth in downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

Electric Parol Lanterns were on sale at the second annual Parol Lantern Festival at Pine and Fourth in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

A Filipino artist named Gingee dances to one of her Filipino world beat songs at the second annual Parol Lantern Festival at Pine and Fourth in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday, December 14, 2019. Photo by Bill Alkofer

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Bill Alkofer, a contributing photographer for the Long Beach Post, has been shooting pictures professionally for 38 years, including stints at the Orange County Register, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Daily News. If you see him out shooting photos, ask him why—and settle in for a very long and thorough answer.
- ADVERTISEMENT -

More