Kumukutikutitap, Bumubusibusilak: A Christmas Exhibit

by: Mary Ann Venturina Bulanadi

“ganyan ang indak ng mga bumbilya
kikindat-kindat, kukurap-kurap
pinaglalaruan ng inyong mga mata

ganyan ang kurap ng mga bituin
Tumitibok-tibok, sumisinok-sinok
koronahan ng palarang bituin”

This song doesn’t just add a playful skip to our walk, it makes us meander and enter the magical and most wonderful time of the year – Christmas time!  The lyrics of the song are almost like yummy and delightful tongue twisters, matched with a bouncy and animated melody.

The Philippines is known for celebrating the longest Christmas season.  The number of days could be counted from the start of September to the Epiphany Sunday. Truly, the longest Christmas season ever.

Deeply rooted in the Philippine cultural tradition is the hanging of the iconic “parol” or the Christmas lantern in the windows of homes and even public converging places.  It has taken on the meaning of being a Filipino symbol of Christmas. Unlike the Christmas tree, which is borrowed from the Western world, the parol is the closest one that identifies with the Filipino heart.

It is said that the origin of the word parol is the Spanish word for lantern, which is “farol.” And, as far back in the earliest times, the physical structure of the parol originated from the Mexican piñata. It traveled the route of Italy, Spain, Mexico and finally to the Philippines.

Being a lantern, it served the purpose of lighting the way for the churchgoers in the early days during the Misa de Gallo.

Iba’t-ibang palamuti
ating isabit sa puno
buhusan ng mga kulay
tambakan ng mga regalo

 The form or the structure of the parol has evolved from its humble beginnings – made of bamboo sticks and papel de Japon to other forms that could withstand the harsh elements like rain such as fiberglass, capiz to the renowned San Fernando, Pampanga giant lanterns. The colors are also done in all that the imagination can conceive.  The shapes have also gone beyond the ordinary 5-point star.  Rules on this have long been broken.  A parol can be a circle, a globe, or a 16- sided multi-faceted shape!

Tumitibok-tibok, sumisinok-sinok
Huwag lang malundo sa sabitin
pupulupot-lupot paikot nang paikot
koronahan ng palarang bituin

Be it a small and simple family parol to the most elaborate and ostentatious display of lights in the giant parols, the meaning remains: an expression of faith, hope and the victory of light over darkness.  It symbolizes the Great Light of the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men to our Saviour’s manger.

Dagdagan mo pa ng kendi
eskosesa‘t guhitan
habang lalong dumadami
regalo mo’y dagdagan

 This exhibition is a  sky full of multi-colored parol and lights, of different shades, different textures that will truly twinkle-glimmer-sparkle and shimmer towards the Belen.  The parols were hand crafted by the  Sophomore and Junior Interior Design students of the University of Santo Tomas College of Fine Arts & Design that will be lighted on November 28, 4 pm at the University of Santo Tomas Museum. Exhibition is curated by Mary Ann Venturina-Bulanadi with John Carlo Beliganio and Michael Suqui, UST College of Fine Arts and Design Interior Design Department.

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