“Let Tradition Be Our Light:” San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival

SAN FRANCISCO — For 15 years now, the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival has brought the Filipino spirit of Christmas to the Bay Area.

And while Filipinos are familiar with parols and Christmas, organizers say it’s always a treat sharing the culture with other San Franciscans.

“People say ‘what’s going on here?’ and that’s when we bring them over and we share what we have and that’s the point of Christmas,” said coordinator Eugene Alejo.

This year’s theme is “Let Tradition Be Our Light,” and for younger Filipinos who are born and raised in America — this is a chance for them to take part in traditions ingrained in their heritage.

“I’m a third generation Filipino-American so I actually didn’t grow up with a lot of this as a kid and I think as someone whose been a bit more Americanized, this has been a way for me to be able to relate more to my grandparents. I tell them about this every year,” said Aaron Agudelo.

“Honestly I feel like I’m at one of my Titos or Lola’s parties just hanging out,” said Mary Reyes. “I’ve seen a bunch of familiar faces from my hometown and even from school. It’s just a great feeling.”

And these Fil-Ams of the Bay Area are not only enjoying their culture but participating — like those of little Manila rising of Stockton.

“On one side it is all the manongs and manangs who came to America and paved our way for our students going off with the United farm workers and the field worker movements and showcasing into our traditions now,” said Elaine Barud.

Parols were created by the many different Filipino organizations throughout the Bay Area.


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