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.”
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