November 23, 2005

Parol Philippine Lantern Festival December 3rd

Filipinos are known for their strong family values where many of its households span three generations. The Philippine Christmas is especially important as traditions of faith, celebration and food are core to the family. PASACAT invites the general public to celebrate a Philippine-style Christmas! The unique sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas in the Philippines will be brought to life at PASACAT’s eighth annual Parol Festival from 2 to 5 p.m., Saturday, December 3, 2005. The festival takes place at St. Rita’s School Annex Auditorium, 5115 Churchward Street, San Diego. Tickets are $12 per person, $10 for students, seniors, and active-duty military, and may be purchased at the door.

An event for all generations, PASACAT will host a number of activities. The festival opens with merienda, a festive meal of pancit (noodles with vegetables and meat), lumpia (eggroll), pandesal (sweet bread) and turon (sweet banana fritter). PASACAT’s 35-year collection of textiles, costumes, instruments, and books will be exhibited, including a bahay kubo (native thatched hut) and two life-size carabao (water buffalo) made of paper mache constructed by Rudy A. Alquero. 

PASACAT will display their collection of modern day illuminated parols from the Philippines designed in a kaleidoscope of color and made of the delicate capiz shells.  A six-foot parol constructed by local artist, Jose R. Morales, Jr. will also be displayed. The parol is a  five-point star lantern traditionally made of bamboo frames and colorful papel de japon (Japanese paper). A treasured symbol of Christmas in the Philippines, it represents the star of Bethlehem. In the 1800’s, when Parols were hung in front of homes and lit, they provided a pathway for farmers to make their way to church at dawn during the Simbang Gabi, a novena of masses before Christmas. Many Catholic churches in the United States have now adapted the Simbang Gabi traditions.

Each year PASACAT invites various groups to perform. Ballet Folkloric Ixcuintla will show the strong similarities to Philippine dances influenced by Spain. The Samoan Catholic Youth Community of St. Rita’s Church  will sing and dance native songs of celebration and praise. St. Rita’s Folk Choir will sing Philippine Christmas songs which include Philippine National Artist, Lucio San Pedro’s complex and exciting Simbang Gabi, an exhilarating piece and a challenging choral arrangement depicting church bells ringing; the traditions of respect where the young ones take the back of the hand of elders, bend forward and place it on their foreheads as a blessing; the Belen or Bethlehem and the Three Kings.

PASACAT’s Junior Dancers, Company members and Rondalla will present dances of the Philippine Countryside which include in the popular Pandango Sa Ilaw-Oasioas, dance of the lights and the audience favorite, Tinikling, bamboo dance. The Parol Dance will be performed by fourteen dancers donning twenty-eight parols made by Morales.

The event will conclude with the pabitin, where children 5 through 12 will jump for toys and candies hung from a bamboo rack which is raised and lowered in similar fashion to Mexico’s piñata.

In a world where conflicts rage, the parol symbolizes hopes for peace and goodwill. PASACAT dancers, singers, musicians and their families bring to life the rich traditions of a Philippine Christmas where young and old can come together in true celebration!

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