Parol stroll lights up downtown San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO – Custom made parols made by various Filipino organizations lit up downtown San Francisco during the 12th annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade.

Kababayans of all ages proudly displayed their handmade parols as they marched around Yerba Buena Garden accompanied by traditional rondalla music.

The bright, colorful lights of this beloved Filipino tradition captured the attention of shoppers and tourists in San Francisco.

“We actually do get a lot of questions, inquiries from the tourists, just a lot of people here for the shopping season,” said Parol Festival Co-Director Glen Andag. “Earlier today I heard someone say “it’s that lantern parade again” and so we definitely have a presence known in the City now or even in this community.”

Since 2006 various groups have come up with original designs for their parols and creative performances as they compete for the esteemed Tala Award Grand Prize of $500.

“We are in the middle of SOMA which is such a huge Filipino community and it’s so great that we can actually bring everyone together and really celebrate the holidays,” said Co-Director Lovelie Faustino.

The Canon Kip Senior Center is made up of primarily Filipino senior citizens who provide over 30,000 hot, nutritious daily lunches every year, for the needy in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco.

“We feed 120 people in the Senior Center,” said Luz Francisco. “And this [star], we are using everything. We [show] them everything: the food, the fruit, everything. And everybody helped together to build this star.”

This particular parol was created by using the same items that are used to help the less fortunate of San Francisco like plastic utensils and milk cartons.

There’s a diorama depicting how this group helps all people regardless of all colors and creeds.

“The light is there and some aluminum is inside so it can bend properly,” said Edwardo Cundanan. “We are always using the recycled because it’s too expense.”

The efforts of this senior group earned them the grand prize.

The generosity of the Filipino organizations in this parol festival emphasized how the Filipino community is expanding its legacy in San Francisco.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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