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How to make a parol


Disney just featured a parol and parol-making (plus the line "From our family to yours") in its holiday advertising, and I'm reminded of that traumatic parol-making contest that we had in grade school. 

I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly, but I think we did it twice--once in Grade 5 and another time in Grade 6--but the star parol was for Grade 6.

What I remember was that we had to order a set of materials from the school and we made part of the parol in school, with the guidance of a teacher (was it Art class?), with the rest of it to be completed at home.

I was given blue and orange tissue paper and some cellophane, just enough for the star and its tail. I don't remember any lights or batteries, so I think it was just supposed to be a basic parol.

I don't remember fixing up the star frame, so it's either the parol set came with a ready star or I didn't have a difficult time setting it up (maybe my father was home and he helped?).

What I do remember is that the night before the parol was due, I was crying because I did not know how to use paste with tissue paper and the whole damn thing kept sticking to my fingers. As for the cellophane, the paste just wouldn't hold it in place!

Back then, it was not easy to buy arts and craft supplies in Las PiƱas. The only National Bookstore was at the Alabang Twin Cinemas, now Alabang Town Center. The small stores in our village that carried school supplies often didn't have Elmer's glue or tissue paper!

I think my mother helped (and if we had helpers at the time, for sure they helped too), but I still remember crying and panicking the entire time. I had no idea my hands, which I thought capable, could be so inefficient with paste and tissue paper!

To my relief, I was able to finish the project. It was an ugly mess on one side and a more tolerable one on the other. But it was over and done with, could be submitted for a passing grade, then forgotten.

At this point, let me say that at that time, I thought the goal was to make a parol out of the set of materials we were given, and nothing more. If we ran out of the materials, we could replace them, yes, but not add to them.

I was flustered to find out that we were supposed to parade the parols in front of everyone for the contest. I thought we would just hang it somewhere for the judges to look at!

I have always been uncomfortable in any spotlight, and my discomfort was made a thousand times worse because I would have to walk in front of everyone with the abomination that was my blue and orange parol. 

I died a thousand deaths waiting for my turn and looking at my schoolmates' parols, some super elaborate with extra features that definitely did not come with the set we were given. There were lights! A belen! Sounds! 

No way did they make those parols without any help and extra expenses! But that unfair advantage is always glossed over in grade school and high school.

I don't remember how we were asked to fall in line, but I was sandwiched between one beautiful parol and another, and I remember the judges laughing at my poor creation. 

To be fair, they laughed at many others, some uglier than mine.

Once the farce was done, I was so relieved I could finally hide my parol away. I thought about dumping it in the trash, but felt that that would also lead to more attention. So I carried it back home on the school bus, which was filled with lanterns and belens that day.

I thought that was the end of my parol, but I can also remember one more thing: We hung it that Christmas and kept it around for at least another one. I was never proud of it, but I suppose I realized it was pure and it was mine.

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