Annual parol lantern festival lights up downtown San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO – “Giving light to the future”.

This was the theme for the 13th Annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade held in the South of Market neighborhood (SOMA) which is historically known to have a large Filipino population.

Spectators gazed on the bright colors of custom-made parols as they lit up downtown San Francisco.

Glen Jermyn Andag, one of the co-coordinators of the festival, said, “One of the reason why we put this on every year is to bridge generations because just going through the process of building a parol is very inter-generational where you have families like parents, grandparents describing to the children why they do or how they did this back in the Philippines.”

Co-coordinator Lovelie Faustino adds, “A lot of these people came from the Philippines and they made their lives here with their families and this is a little piece of home for them.”

One new feature at this year’s festival was “The Taste of Christmas” where people got to enjoy free samplings of popular noche buena dishes.

Also at this year’s festival, two artists were commissioned to create parol lanterns inspired by the theme: wonders of nature.

Gene Apellido created a modern, contemporary parol comprised of wood and burlap.

And 3D artist Lynn Bryant made an interactive parol that focused on the natural features of the Philippines.

“This is representing the Philippine archipelago how we have fire and water coming together and the ocean creatures swimming inside,” said Bryant describing her parol. “It’s meant to be something to explore and look inside and experience the ocean in a different way.”

The kids from the Galing Bata program at the Filipino Education Center (FEC) were this year’s winners of the $500 Tala award for outstanding parol lantern.

“Events like the parol festival we really get to engage current Filipino youth with our past, present and future,” said M.E. Qrquico, a FEC staff member. “I think it’s really important to know your history and by knowing your history you definitely know yourself.”

They plan to use the money to aid the Galing Bata program that promotes bi-literacy in English and Tagalog, and in turn a healthy bi-cultural identity.

Pinoys in the Bay Area remain prideful to showcase their heritage to the diverse community of San Francisco.

Co-coordinator Angela Madriaga said, “For me this means a lot to see a community come together during this holiday season and really make our presence known in the SOMA especially now with all the changes taking place in San Francisco it’s really important for us to make it known that we are still here and we do exist and our culture lives on.”

-With video contribution by Dmitry Nikolaev

You an contact Rommel Conclara at for more information

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