It isn’t a Filipino Christmas without a parol (Christmas lantern), and as the country’s “Christmas capital” and birthplace of the parol, one can bet that the city of San Fernando, Pampanga will have one of the grandest displays of them all come the -ber season.
Photos of the annual parol display dotting the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA) went viral on social media again this year, as captured by Kapampangan photographer Gerald Gloton.
This year’s installation features 52 roadside lanterns, according to Gloton.
“Been waiting for this night! The whole stretch of JASA brings us joy every year with this 52-piece lantern installation,” the photographer wrote on Facebook. “We all are still battling an invisible enemy and indeed these are real dark times, we literally just need these lights to brighten up our saddening situation. Maligayang pasko!” (Merry Christmas!)
The city of San Fernando is known to light up with several roadside displays of the lanterns, as local makers sell different versions of the traditional parol. Large, electronic versions of the parol made in Pampanga are known as parul sempernandu.
“My friends and colleagues have been asking me and messaging me about taking photos of the avenue again since last year it was a big hit,” Gloton told Coconuts. “We all wanted to share the good mood from the meaningful yuletide ornaments.”
Gloton’s photos of last year’s set were also widely shared on social media in 2020, shortly after the province was ravaged by Typhoon Ulysses in November.
Although the lantern tradition has existed in Pampanga for years, Gloton was only able to begin taking photos of the lantern display last year. “(The display) basically brightens up the whole stretch of the avenue,” Gloton tells Coconuts, adding that “the lanterns have been symbolic and brought more depth in terms of shedding light in these dark times.”
“It is a reminder that we shouldn’t forget commemorating special events such as the spirit of Christmas,” Gloton said. “We may have been struggling but there are a ton of reasons to look up the skies and smile at the twinkling lights.”