LONDON - British-Filipino organization Philippine Generations hosted a parol workshop in preparation for the Christmas holidays in London.
The yuletide event, held at the Greenside Community Centre in Marylebone, offered dozens of participants the opportunity to make their own parol, a festive Filipino Lantern used traditionally as a guiding light for Simbang Gabi (evening mass).
People of all ages and backgrounds learned the skills and techniques necessary in creating a typical parol out of bamboo, paper, string, cardboard, tape and glue.
The workshop also demonstrated the process of making ‘paper parol’ and ‘flat parol’ using paper, glue and scissors, which are equally beautiful lanterns filled with color and festive themes.
“We’re giving people a window into the traditional practices of the Philippines when it comes to Christmas time. [Parol] is our symbol of Christmas, it’s our Christmas tree,” explained Adrian Williams, chairman of Philippine Generations.
Apart from parols, the workshop involved other decorations made from recyclable materials, including basket-weaving and flower-making using scrap paper and plastic. There were also coloring activities for children under the age of seven.
The organizers provided light snacks and refreshments, from homemade cupcakes and pasties, to Filipino pastries and fruit juices. They also presented some arts and crafts from community projects in the Philippines and Britain, such as purses, ornate boxes, bags, costume jewelry, decorations, and greeting cards.
Participants were made up of diverse people from different nationalities and backgrounds, including Filipinos and non-Filipinos, men and women, young and old, friends and families.
“It’s really amazing. I was so impressed as soon as I walked in the door. There are so many different stands and so much going on, so many different art projects that I can get involved with,” said Marie Broad, a British participant invited by a Filipino colleague.
She added: “I think it’s a really fantastic way to learn about the Philippines and some of your traditions at Christmas time.”
Filipinos from different generations also supported the workshop, who saw it as an opportunity to reminisce about the Philippines and reconnect with the culture.
“The whole event has been quite inspiring, but also a lot of fun as well. It’s something that I haven’t done since I was very small, or back home in the Philippines. So this has been a great opportunity to get back to our roots and enjoy Christmas as well,” revealed Lani Dacunos, a second generation Filipino, and editor of London Meets Manila.
Response to the event has been positive on the whole, which has been fun and informative for everyone involved.
“It’s a good turnout, and the most important thing is that everyone is having a good time. It’s a good vibe, very positive. It’s not just Filipinos, we have British people, we have people who have come from outside London to be here. And it’s just a great atmosphere,” said Williams, who is also a second generation British-Filipino.
Philippine Generations is a London-based organization which aims to promote the Philippines, its people and its culture. It was originally set up by children of migrant Filipino workers in Britain, who wanted to express their voice in the community.
The group continues to grow each year, and has now become a stable movement among Filipinos of all generations, as well as anyone who might have an interest in the Philippines in one form or another.
“We always say that we have three words as our central tenets, and that is to ‘educate, inspire and enrich’. I’d like to think that we’ve done that today. We hope that we’ve enriched their lives,” said Williams.
The parol workshop was the first of its kind for Philippine Generations, and they hope that its success would allow them to build this activity into an annual tradition for the Christmas season in the United Kingdom.