An iconic symbol of Filipino Christmas, the parol is our adaptation of the Hispanic tradition of carrying small light sources such as torches and candles during the nine-day Christmas Novena procession leading up to the midnight mass or “Simbang Gabi,” as it is called in the Philippines.

Parols in the Spanish era came in simple rectangular or oblong shapes made with white paper. There were lit using candles or oil lamps. The designs, colors and sizes later on evolved into more intricate ones, and they were all hand-made, so they would vary from household to household.

Interestingly, the five-pointed star parols we know today didn’t come until the American colonial period. The first-ever parol of this stellate pattern was said to be crafted by an artisan from Pampanga. It was made out of bamboo strips covered with Japanese paper and illuminated by a candle or a gas lamp.

These days, we see parols made with all kinds of materials, from plastic, shells, beads and feathers to wood and metal. We see them as early as September, hung in homes, commercial buildings and even resorts like Club Serena in Moalboal, Cebu.

In keeping with its overall aesthetic of modern Filipino and vernacular architecture, the barefoot luxury resort is studded with parols, from the villas to the all-day dining restaurant. But the pièce de résistance this season is the resort’s Christmas tree, decked out with orange and green lanterns and Christmas lights. Also designed by the resort’s architect, the tree is meant to be a symbol of hope and goodwill, and the victory of light over darkness—how apt for these uncertain times.

Before the tree lighting proper, guests were treated to sunset cocktails by the beach. The merrymaking was paused as guests gathered by the check-in area where the award-winning acapella group Sync Singers delighted them with classic Christmas tunes.

The ceremony was headed by Club Serena Resort director of sales Angela Emphasis, operations manager Rafael John Baustista, the resort’s architect James Jao and Moalboal tourism officer Rollie Alderite. Each of them gave words of welcome and inspiration as we celebrate Christmas amid a pandemic for the second year now.

Guests then counted down to the lighting of the tree, after which a feast fit for a king was partaken of at the restaurant. Seafood dishes, a live pasta station and lechon were part of the sumptuous spread that night.

As Club Serena always has sustainability in mind, it will soon introduce trishaws to shuttle guests from one point to another. These are its version of electric carts used in most resorts. Guests during the tree lighting on Nov. 17, 2021 got their first glimpse of one of the units. This is not your run-of-the-mill pedicab as the materials used are only the best of Philippine indigenous materials. Club Serena is also getting a facelift and will relaunch in early 2022.