16 Dec2006

parol1

We must be one of the few countries in the world that can legitimately claim a different set of seasons from the rest of the planet… We have three: Dry and Hot Summer Season, Wet and Humid Rainy Season and the Fabulous and Fantastic Christmas Season…each lasts about 3 to 4 months each!!! While malls start their Christmas music on September 1st, we never parol2really used to get into the Christmas décor until the first week of December and never hung our parol(s) until December 1st, at the earliest. There is nothing that heralds the onset of the Christmas holidays in our home like the hanging of our Parol or Christmas lantern. We have always preferred classic white paper parols but we have occasionally strayed from that pure and simple version (which we always made at home) and have purchased colored Pampanga-style lanterns as well as natural capiz shell lanterns… I wrote about the classic parol/farol last year, and I continue to lament the disappearance of the paper versions from the streetside vendors, but such is progress…in fact, when was the last time you saw a paper lantern?! At our home, however bastardized and confused our holiday traditions might be, we ALWAYS have a parol along with our Christmas tree.

This year, we decided we were too crazed to do our own paper lanterns so we looked around at neutral or plain capiz parols… at PHP2,000 to PHP3,000 each, they were wickedly pricey. So we had some custom made for us at a roadside vendor in Mandaluyong along the Pasig River and for PHP3,000 total, we got two medium-sized and one large capiz lantern. Very classic shape and exactly what we wanted… With low wattage bulbs, they will illuminate our garage and front lawn every evening until early January… I always knew capiz was a shell but that was the extent of my curiosity until I started writing this post. It turns out that capiz or kapis, is the outer shell of a bivalve/mollusk scientifically referred to as placuna placenta. It is a shell that thrives in Philippine and Indonesian waters and has been used for centuries as an opaque window material before glass was common. The shell’s opacity fostered privacy yet allowed light to filter into homes… It seems, according to internet sources, that the name hails from the fact that they were commonly harvested near the town of Capiz, in Panay. The shells are water and heat resistant and thus great outdoors and as well as with candles or bulbs in them. They are sturdy and last several years. Oh, and a Marketman pet peeve…people who wrap their capiz lanterns in plastic to “preserve them.” To me, that’s like folks who wrap their furniture or luggage in plastic so it doesn’t get dirty or worse, like using saran wrap with your prophylactics…simply overkill, if you know what I mean… heehee. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Zita says:

    Sigh! This is what it lacking here at my house. Don’t know where I can purchase them in Brisbane. Or where to get the materials to make the paper version. Lovely parol by the way MM. I’d kill to get those sent over to me! Pede bang mag padala via door to door? I’ll send some money via western union. Hehehehe

    Since I moved almost 5 yrs ago, this is the 1st time I;ve had a xmas tree at home. My son adores it, he even picked out the ornaments. It’s beginning to feel like xmas again.. slowly.

    Happy holidays!

    Dec 16, 2006 | 7:11 pm

     
  2. asunta says:

    MM, I had the classic white japanese paper parols made. I found a lady in Tiendesitas who I contracted to do some. We were discussing why they dont use paper anymore and why plastic is more common. Reason is because the quality of the japanese paper is too thin unlike what we used to have before. Well I still had mine made and did some minor revisions. The good thing is now I have 15 pcs of bamboo parol frames ready for next year. If anyone needs her number I will be more than willing to share with you.

    Dec 16, 2006 | 9:07 pm

     
  3. tulip says:

    Capiz Christmas ornaments/parols are always on my relatives living abroad wish lists. I usually buy those are unique and gorgeous to send, and it is really pricey. Though the Php 2,000-3,000 you have canvassed is actually cheaper than most found in Manila. I sometimes get customized ornaments direct from Pampanga but they actually seldom accept such works for few pieces and had to order it at least early November. I like your classic designed Capiz lantern, beautiful!

    Dec 17, 2006 | 1:41 am

     
  4. ykmd says:

    That’s funny MM, my daughter just wrote a school report about hanging our parol. We may be thousands of miles away, but that tradition is alive and well in our home. My mom sent a fairly large capiz one (about 3 ft across) a few years ago and it thankfully survived the trip intact :)

    Dec 17, 2006 | 3:49 am

     
  5. Maria Clara says:

    You truly have the Christmas spirit, ambiance and serenity in your dwelling turning it into a Christmas fantasy land.

    Dec 17, 2006 | 3:51 am

     
  6. Jacqui says:

    For the past four years, a community of Filipino immigrants in San Francisco led by a non-profit organization has been coming together for the annual Parol Parade and Festival. From October to November, the non-profit hold workshops on how to make the parol, and second generation Filipino American, especially the children, have a grand time discovering Philippine culture through these get-togethers.

    For the festival highlight, all workshop participants get to parade their creations and displayed at the Yerba Buena Gardens. Last year was the grandest parade of paper lanters (fortunately, the rains led to the cancellation of the parade) with many Filipino groups from all over the Bay Area participating.

    Just seeing those lighted paper lanters of all sizes parading down San Francisco’s Mission Street gave me so much pride – and once again long for home.

    Dec 17, 2006 | 8:30 am

     
  7. Jacqui says:

    Error on the above comment – it is this year’s parade that got cancelled.

    Dec 17, 2006 | 8:31 am

     
  8. Jacqui says:

    Apologies for the simultaneous posts but I just read your post last year on how to make parols and the comments/questions from US-based readers where to buy parols here and wanted to share this.
    ABS-CBN’s online store (starrystarry.com) is selling Christmas capiz lanterns, but for me they are a little pricey at almost $200.
    For next Christmas, the city of San Fernando will be shipping their creations to San Francisco to be sold here. Just don’t have the details on that yet (will share it here as soon as I have it).

    Dec 17, 2006 | 8:39 am

     
  9. maria lorenzo says:

    i’ve always associated parols with fond memories of my childhood. i had this large group of playmates and we gathered all the walis tingting we could get our hands on via taking three sticks from each one we happen to find for five days. then we gather all the old rice from the yesterday’s breakfast and mash them into a paste. papel de hapon was the only material we bought. we borrowed the least wanted spool of thread from mang paking…the neighborhood tailor, who gladly gave us a new one anyway. :) we’d all spend an entire day creating all the parols we wanted…hung them on the longest rooftop sampayan overnight to dry. The following day, which is usually december 5… we’d all help each other out on where we wanted to hang the parols on designated places. Sometimes, we’ll volunteer to hang them all on the one and only mango tree at the church yard. yah, things were different then… hmmm… makes me want to start a parol-making tradition with my son.

    Merry Christmas Market Man! I’m looking forward to another april fool story for next year. Blessed be.

    Dec 17, 2006 | 5:50 pm

     
  10. MasPinaSarap says:

    Yikes! My mom paid almost $200 a piece for two large colored Pampanga Parols. They ship them over to sell at the local Pinoy stores, and are packaged nicely, making it so much easier than trying to lug back-alisbayan box-style.
    I bought a spectacular hand-made parol when we were back, made of drinking straws and staples!
    Perhaps you can just make/buy the frames and just cover it with white papel de japon? Maybe you do that already, in case, ignore that, haha. My uncles used to make the frames, before the capiz parols “blew up”. MM, Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!

    Dec 18, 2006 | 3:52 am

     
  11. sylvia says:

    MM, that is a beautiful white capiz parol that you had made. Truly classic.

    I have a question for Jacqui or any other US-based readers. We bought a Pampanga parol a few years ago and my kano hubby refuses to hang it outdoors as he is worried that its electrical wiring may not be up to par with US standards. You know naman how it rains a lot in the winter here in Northern CA. I think it should be alright because the fact that it is approved for sale here must mean that it must have passed govt standards. Who do you think is right? Do you hang your parol outdoors?

    Dec 18, 2006 | 9:56 am

     
  12. tulip says:

    In our home in Northern Calif we hang the parols outside though I have one engineer in my Manila office convert or check the electric wirings (I purchase customized parols directly from Pampanga and ship it to US) for security purposes. Double check lang, but if you bought it there then I assume its A-OK with US standards.

    Dec 18, 2006 | 5:37 pm

     
  13. MasPinaSarap says:

    I doubt they really fully inspect them, however if they are converted to 110 electricity then they are held to some kind of standard.
    As for placing it outside; It snows where we live and that would be a disaster however pretty it may be in the beginning. If you have a large window, and a hook in your ceiling, just hang it. We use our bay window. You could try hanging it outside but wrapped in some clear plastic, maybe the stuff they put over your dry cleaning?

    Dec 18, 2006 | 10:31 pm

     
  14. ykmd says:

    We hang our parol in the front doorway (which is recessed) and thus it’s “protected” on three sides. I’m sure it does occasionally get wet from rain or snow when the wind blows but so far it has worked well. Sylvia, I remember watching anxiously with the fire extinguisher on hand the first time we plugged it in :) but I’m glad to say my fears were unfounded. I suggest you plug it in fresh out of the box and leave it twinkling for a few hours where you can monitor it closely.

    Dec 19, 2006 | 1:26 am

     
  15. Jacqui says:

    Sylvia, the festival organizers in SF and the councilor from San Fernando, Pampanga whom I interviewed (for an article I am writing) said “the city government (of San Fernando) has currently obtained the Underwriter Laboratories’ mark for the lantern parts, making these compliant with international safety standards.” I believe the UL-approval only applies to the parols made and sold/exported starting this year. I am not sure, though, if other manufacturers also obtained the same approval. Hope this helps.

    Dec 19, 2006 | 9:03 am

     
  16. sylvia says:

    Thanks to all who responded to my query. Jacqui, we bought the parol a couple of years ago so I suppose it is not safe to assume that it complies with intl safety standards. MasPinaSarap, we do have a large window and that’s exactly where we have been hanging our parol, from inside the house. I think that’s just what we will have to do again this year.

    Dec 19, 2006 | 9:55 am

     
  17. choy says:

    capiz shell is “tipay” in visayan. very sturdy indeed. i was able to retrieve several windows from our ancestral home which was built in the late 1800′s and some of the capiz were still ok. talk about resiliency. so fidure on having your capiz parol for quite some time, MM.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    Dec 20, 2006 | 8:13 am

     
  18. nene madayag says:

    Hello! Where can I order just a plain capiz parol with one lights. I do not like colored lights. Please let me know. Thanks.

    Feb 20, 2008 | 3:34 am

     
  19. Bhert says:

    Hi Guys! I know its too early but For those interested to buy parol made out of capiz, just email me at bhert0306@yahoo.com, We usually shipped it through DHL or UPS for about $35 to $50 anywhere in the U.S. I’ll send you all the details through email. God Speed everyone!

    Mar 26, 2008 | 9:32 pm

     
  20. lovely abegonia says:

    my family has a business like that,but were selling it here in the philippines..if you want you can call me up and you can order some from us..were been the business for 10 years now.ypu can mail me,if you are interested.

    May 25, 2008 | 5:51 pm

     
  21. timothy barr says:

    I have Parol in the U.S. for sale. Website is being built. My email address is barski_58@yahoo.com.

    Salamat Po!!!

    Jun 13, 2008 | 8:44 pm

     
  22. Manny says:

    Where can we buy Kapis Parol just like the one were seeing on this website?

    Thank You

    Oct 18, 2008 | 3:39 am

     
  23. Marketman says:

    Manny, if you live in Manila, there are several places that sell parols, but we got these custom made at a street fronting the Pasig river. Coming from Makati, cross the Makati/Mandaluyong bridge and turn right… you will see the vendors within a minute or so. If you want more convenience, balikbayan handicrafts also carries capiz stars…

    Oct 18, 2008 | 5:51 am

     
  24. manny says:

    Opps sorry i forgot to change the name

    Oct 30, 2008 | 2:14 am

     
  25. manny says:

    its suppose to be manny not marketman sorry about that

    Oct 30, 2008 | 2:14 am

     
  26. manny says:

    Marketman… I don’t live in manila anymore i’m base here in california

    Oct 30, 2008 | 3:48 am

     
 

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