San Francisco celebrates Christmas Filipino-style with parade of parols and a taste of noche buena

SAN FRANCISCO —  For 17 years now, San Franciscans have gotten a glimpse of Christmas the way it’s done in the Philippines, as custom-made Philippine lanterns light up the south of market during the annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade.

This year, the free public event also featured the ‘Taste of Christmas’ — where everyone got to feast on Filipino food, like lechon and bibingka.

And when it came to the competition for the best parol, Galing Bata, an after school bilingual program for kindergarten to 8th-grade students, was named the winner.

“These are all of the 18 years, all the people, all the generations of Galing Bata students, families and also, community members that have really helped us shine from the darkness and also help us through the struggle,” said Mark Belocura.

According to the Galing Bata staff, the materials used for this parol showcased the Philippines’ natural resources.

“We can see there is sinamay that is a versatile foundation material that is made from the processed tusks of the abaca or banana palm native to the Philippines. In addition we use kawayan or bamboo from the Philippines,” said MJ Mariano. “We because that we created a concept of home because we know in the Philippines kamayans make up the bahay kubo and with that we can bring a sense of belongingness through unity.”

This winning group said they’re happy to celebrate the Christmas season with other Filipino organizations from the San Francisco area.

“We go together. We strive together as a community as a collective faction and what’s most important is the theme right now: ‘We are the Light’. Whenever it’s Christmas we are the light for those who love us like Galing Bata and SOMA Pilipinas.”

Galing Bata received a prize of $500, which will be used to support the afterschool program.

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