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Winnipeg Filipinos start Christmas season with parol-making contest

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Canada

Posted at Dec 04 2021 11:41 AM

To many Filipino Canadians, the parol or Christmas lantern has come to symbolize their deep-rooted ties back home.

With the pandemic forcing families to limit social  interaction, the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival thought of holding a mini-parol making festival to bring members of the community together, even if only virtually.

"Especially at this pandemic time, everybody’s been cooped in the house for so long already so marami nang nabo-bore diyan so we try to create some activities that will enlighten the spirit of our kababayans (Especially at this pandemic time, everybody’s been cooped in the house for so long already so a lot of them are probably getting bored)," Aida Champagne, organizer of the MFSF parol-making contest, notes.

Champagne said that when she came back from her Philippine vacation in 2019, she brought home with her some 20 parol frames. Their group then thought of hosting the contest using these. But because they could not open the contest to the public due to Covid restrictions, they limited the invitation to only 15 Filipino associations in Winnipeg.

"The primary purpose of the parol-making contest is to encourage organizations and groups to perpetuate the creation of the Christmas symbol in the Philippines."

Parol entry in a contest in Canada

Parol entry in a contest in Canada

Parol entry in a contest in Canada
Entries in a parol-making contest organized by the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival. Photos courtesy: Aida Champagne

Among the entries is a parol designed with used pull tabs with empty soda cans as tail, a lantern made of dried leaves, and some adorned with poinsettia, tinsel, and Christmas lights. Most have the traditional belen or baby Jesus at its center. The biggest entry was a four-foot parol from the Manitoba Filipino Teachers Association.

When it came time to judge the entries, Champagne said only a limited number of people were allowed inside the venue, but they were able to share the event with other members of the community through social media.

The first three winning entries got $600, $400 and $200 respectively, while the rest of the participants got $100 each.

"Hindi lang yung premyo ang napakahalaga doon kundi yung pagsasama-sama, saka yung pagkakaroon natin ng isang magandang program or activity para sa ating mga kababayan. We bring them together despite the pandemic (The cash prizes are not the most important part of the contest, but the community getting together again, and having a good program or activity for our fellowmen), Champagne asserts.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba Filipino Teachers Association is now accepting bids for their entry. Whatever sale they make from the huge parol, which won second place at the contest, will be used for their students' program.