The paper parol that made Christmas magical has vanished


CHRISTMAS is just around the corner which is probably why I cannot help but reminisce about all the Christmases I spent as a young boy in Candaba, Pampanga. More than the hot bibingkas and puto bumbong made from hand milled galapong after Simbang Gabi, or the nights spent singing carols with my siblings, it is the image of the parol adorning every home in our hometown that made Christmas magical.

Due to our town’s proximity to San Fernando, the streets of Candaba were illuminated by these five-pointed paper star lanterns. The parols were simple then: crafted out of bamboo sticks, papel de Hapon and crepe paper.

Sadly, this once prominent and traditional Filipino decor is becoming a rarity. It is more common to see lanterns made out of imported Chinese rope LED and blinking string lights – even those being peddled at San Fernando, Pampanga.

Who are the primary beneficiaries of this shift in parol-making? The LED factories in China perhaps. How many Filipino micro entrepreneurs have closed their companies because of the competition?

Call me old-fashioned but I prefer our bamboo parol. Its simplicity makes it the most suitable representation of the star of Bethlehem and it carries in its fold fond memories of simpler Christmases and Filipino traditions.

Kelan kaya ako ulit makakakita ng parol sa aking bintana?

Jerry L. Pelayo
Former Mayor
of Candaba, Pampanga

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LRT1 concession agreement detrimental not just to riding public

The LRT1 Concession Agreement is detrimental not just to the riding public and taxpayers, but to national industrialization and Science & Technology development.

As a petitioner in the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition filed in the Supreme Court yesterday (Nov 12) against Secretary Joseph Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the DOTC and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), I would like to add the following points about the petition and the lopsided P65-billion Concession Agreement entered into by the DOTC with the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC):
First, I would like to underscore that the concession agreement is a betrayal of public trust. It relies on public funds as a collateral to “sweeten” the deal for the LRMC in the form of sovereign guarantees and assured fare hikes. Taxpayers and riders already burdened by rising prices amid stagnating wages will be made to bear all of this.

Second, our rail transport is part of the national asset that should be operated under government control and management. It is a crucial part of our transport industry that provides basic service to the people. With the privatization of the LRT1 and its subsequent fare increases, what should be a mass transport system for the general public – regardless of paying capacity – is made inaccessible to the poor.

Third, in privatizing our rail systems, the government foregoes its responsibility and opportunity to comprehensively build up our mass transport system, starting with the development of upstream industries like the metals industry needed to build parts for vehicles and rails. We have a very rich mineral base that could be used to support our rail industry, but instead, we let foreign large companies extract and export these abroad.

With the big push to privatize our transportation systems – from rails to terminals, airports, and even road systems, and all under the auspices of APEC and the WTO – we can never hope to develop and use our own transport technologies for the benefit of the public.

We will be ever dependent on foreign technology and be at the whim of private profit-hungry corporations. Our local science and technology will be given a narrow opportunity to grow and our local scientists and engineers given little chance use their skills in projects that will truly serve and address the needs of the Filipino people.

Ms. Finesa Cosico
Secretary General,
AGHAM – Advocates
of Science and Technology
for the People


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