Fixing the Christmas Parol

Last Nov.29, Sunday, we motored to Pampanga for our monthly visit to my mom. It was a perfect opportunity to bring our old parol that needed fixing.

A couple of its bulbs were busted; the twinkling (folks call it winker) gadget wasn't working; and the plastic cover needed replacing.

Origins of the Christmas Parol

Did you know that the word "parol" came from the Spanish word "farol" which means "lantern" or ilawan in Tagalog? Yeah, me neither. :)

Traditionally, parols are made from a star-shaped framework made of bamboo sticks which are then covered by colored pieces of either Japanese paper (papel de Hapon).

Nowadays, the materials range from various non-traditional materials such as beads, feathers, glass, hemp, leaves, plastic, seeds, shells, soft drink straws, wood and even metal.

They usually comes in various sizes—from small, tinsel and foil lanterns to gigantic one—shapes and artistic designs where some lanterns can be electrically lit at night.

The star-like shape of the parol which has been its original design remains common and considered distinct for Filipinos.

That's our parol above, hung by the bay window in the living room.

Pampanga - the Christmas Parol Capital

So why did we bring it to Pampanga for fixing? Because that's where we bought the parol almost 20 years ago. Yup, our parol is older than my eldest, Che.

Pampanga is dubbed as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. Come Christmas time, you'll see rows and rows of shops selling parols by the roadside. It becomes a spectacular display should you pass these roads at night.

Many parols nowadays that are electrically lit are made with thin colored plastic sheets. The parol we have is made of colored Capiz shells. Since it was made a long time ago, the Capiz shells used were still thick.

The frame itself is built with thick gauge wires and thin metal sheets. We bought it for Php 2,300 which back then was a hefty sum.

Although a few capiz parols were displayed in many shops, it was a bit difficult to find a shop that would fix our parol. I think it was the fourth shop we went into that agreed to fix it.

The shop owner was amazed with the craftsmanship as he tore open the now deteriorating old plastic sheet. He exclaimed "Ala na pung gagawa kareni!" (nobody makes these anymore!). He suspects it would cost upwards of Php 6,000 - if you can find one.

He noted the thick Capiz shells which he said might have been imported from Iloilo. The shells nowadays he says are thin and get easily cracked. The electrical wiring, he explained was heavy-duty after seeing the complete set of bulb sockets.

Nowadays, you only see coils of bare wires inserted with paper carton that function as sockets.

The heavy assemblage of electrical wirings and devices inside, he said, requires a strong, rigid and heavy-duty frame. And that explains why our parol is so heavy compared to other Capiz parols nowadays.

We paid Php 200 to have everything fixed and the worker even agreed to put in a new clear plastic sheet to wrap it.

Taken cared for, he concluded, our parol would last a lifetime.

Go ahead, post your comment below!

Angel said...

Kindly post the address of the repairman please...

Blackdove said...

Hi Angel. The repair was done in Pampanga where the parol was bought. From the San Fernando Exit along NLEX, turn left towards San Fernando proper upon reaching the Dolores junction. Along the road are plenty of stalls selling parols. Many parols are made right there or at their houses. Be sure to approach those who sell capiz parols (there are still some who do). Good luck!

Unknown said...

Hi i just recently bought a parol from pampanga and brougt it here in canada... at first it doesn't lights up and then it lights up a couple seconds and then shut and couple of minutes it will light up again now its totally not working i already check the initial wiring they are all connected... i don't know what is the problem now... hope u can help me... i don't wanna go it trash

Blackdove said...

Hello. Please don't put it to trash. ?What I may suggest is to bring it to any electrical technician there. My problems with my parol have always something to do with the blinkers/winkers that turn the lights on and off. I'm no expert so I just go back to sellers in Pampanga, not necessarily to the one who sold it. Good luck.