Lantern of Hope, Enlightenment for All

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San Francisco – The Philippines is in the news. The sight of devastation and ravaged brought about by the super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) is seen around the world.

The estimated death toll, destruction of properties, devastated cities, towns and villages are beyond compare.

The super typhoon and strong storm surge had not only literally dimmed the surrounding; the people’s lives and communities were overwhelmed into the dark.

The catastrophe happened in November, at time when Christmas carols are already heard over the radio, and local folks are preparing for the holiday season.

More than ever, they feel the lyrics of the song “Whispering Hope”… Soft as the voice of an angel,/ Breathing a lesson unheard,/ Hope with a gentle persuasion / Whispers her comforting word:/ Wait till the darkness is over, / Wait till the tempest is done, / Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, / After the shower is gone… Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,/ Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice?

In today’s “darkness” that hovers around the world, and more pronounced in the ravaged areas in the Philippines, where’s the light coming from?

Every year Christians re-enact the nativity. The light is a bright star, the star of Bethlehem.

The Filipino lantern or 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.

For Filipinos, the act of sharing light to overcome darkness is a noble gesture and authentic virtue of malasakit – expressing empathy, sincere concerns and real care by sharing the pain or burden of others.

Filipinos have an ancient Tagalog proverb that says “ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay damdam ng buong katawan” (The pain of the little finger is felt by the whole or entire body.) The problem of one becomes the problem of everyone.

The catastrophe brought about by super typhoon Yolanda is a wake call for all citizens of the world.

What is best to alter the road to “darkness” is to flicker a light that brightens our life and spirit to move onward,  akin to the experience of the three magi who were guided by the shining Star of Bethlehem on their way to the new born Christ.

Let us give our solidarity and support to the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines.

As we all know the parol lantern uplifts the spirit to surmount difficulties, instill a sense of pride and hope to propel a prosperous future. The hanging of the parol on front windows during the holiday season encourages other people who see these to feel that they are not alone – “hindi ka nag-iisa” – and that “we are one in faith and identity.” That malasakit still reigns among our kapwa Filipinos in America.

It is the time of the year again, when the community starts making their parol lanterns and holiday decor to adorn their houses for the yuletide season.

The theme of the 11th annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade is Enlightenment for All – Liwanag Para sa Tanan.

The festival begins with a series of parol lantern-making workshops held at the Bayanihan Community Center every Friday from 5:30 to 9 in the evening. Parol workshops are open to the public.

Every year contingents are gearing up for the annual event in San Francisco for the festive stroll to display their lanterns which are creatively produced by their members and to vie for the esteemed Tala Award Grand Prize.

The Parol Festival and Parade is scheduled on Saturday, December 14, 2013, from 5 to 9 pm. It is a family fun-filled evening of music, games and prizes with the brightly lit and colorful parol lanterns.  Festival opens at 5 pm with entertainment and Parol Gallery at the Jessie Square. The Parol Parade starts at 6:15 pm at the Yerba Buena Gardens and march towards Yerba Buena Lane to Jessie Square.

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

There are also free parol making workshops, which are held every Friday at the Bayanihan Community Center  on 1010 Mission Street and Sixth Street in San Francisco.

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, please contact Parol Festival at 415-348-8042, email or visit


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