Bacolod’s Christmas Lanterns: A Symbol of Hope and a Better Future
, Negros Occidental
Belle Piccio | Nov 12, 2015
The star shaped Christmas lantern or simply known as paról is one of the most in-demand Christmas décor in the Philippines. In Bacolod City, as Bacolodnons welcome the “Ber” months, the sidewalk of Burgos-Gatuslao in Barangay 11 is filled with these vibrant and colorful lanterns.
What make these lanterns unique? These lanterns, which symbolize hope, are made with made with love. The popular parol makers in Bacolod City are the inmates of Negros Occidental District Jail.
The craftsmen-behind-bars usually start working on their lanterns every month of September. The new lanterns are then displayed at Burgos-Gatuslao Streets around October.
Lantern-making gives inmates a chance to earn an extra income just in time for the Christmas celebration. Aside from the opportunity to earn, the inmates also make use of the season to show love for their families in providing their needs by mastering the craft.
Lanterns or parols nowadays are made from durable materials and illuminated with lights. Unlike before that it was only made of bamboo sticks and colored papel de japon or cellophane making it disposable after the occasion. Through the years, the designs become more colorful and creative that it no longer follows the traditional star-shaped design.
After the parols were made by the inmates, their relatives sell it outside the premises when the Provincial Jail was still located in San Juan St. It has already become a part of every Bacolodnons for decades to check on these lanterns during the “Ber” months when looking for lighted Christmas decorations. Since the Provincial Jail was relocated outside the city to give way for a new building, the vendors decided to bring their lanterns just near its original area. The lanterns can already be found at the Burgos-Gatuslao Streets.
Some of the lanterns that you can buy: (prices may change without prior notice)
1. Size 8 Stars
The Size 8 Stars is the bestseller from the rest of the lanterns because of its affordable price.
- Price: Php300.00
2. Size 10 Stars
The Size 10 Stars is a little bigger from the Size 8 Stars.
- Price: Php350.00
3. Box Parol
- Price: Php500.00
4. Pampanga Lanterns
Patterned after the Pampanga Lanterns, that is why it is called as such. It is also a fast moving item when displayed.
- Price (small): Php700.00
- Price (medium): Php1,000.00
- Price (large): Php1,500.00
The vendors supposedly planned to have a price increase for the lanterns but decided not to because their customers are already used to the old rates. The number of buyers is expected to increase mid-November.
Based on the designs, you’ll see the creativity of Bacolodnons. The inmates hope that through the parol they make, they can help their families this Christmas season.
It is a Filipino tradition to decorate their homes in celebrating Christmas. So when you happen to be in Bacolod City, buy a lantern from vendors along Burgos-Gatuslao Street.
How to Get There
From Manila, you can fly to Bacolod (Php2500++, round trip, 45 minutes). From Bacolod-Silay Airport, you can take a shuttle (Php75-100 per head), or a cab (minimum of Php400) and ask to be dropped off at your destination.
(Photos courtesy of ABS-CBN/TV Patrol Negros unless otherwise stated)