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Filipino Parols add Christmas colours to Geelong festivities

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By Mila Cichello

The iconic National Wool Museum (NWM) hosted an exciting weekend of Parol-making workshops in Geelong on 10 and 11 December 2022.  Filipino Australian Friendship Association of Geelong Inc (FAFAG) members and volunteers led the event at the Museum’s historic Studio space. 

Parols are popular star-shaped lanterns that Filipino families hang from their front windows to herald the arrival of Christmas. For Filipinos worldwide, parols symbolize light over darkness, hope and goodwill to all men.

Parol Making Workshop in Geelong

Parol Making Workshop in Geelong

Parol Making Workshop in Geelong

Parol Making Workshop in Geelong

Parol Making Workshop in Geelong

Parol Making Workshop
Participants enjoyed Filipino treats as part of the parol making workshop at the National Wool Museum, Geelong

The workshops were FAFAG’s response to Museum Program Manager Lynette Nilaweera’s invitation to community groups to share Christmas traditions with others.  “Geelong has a very diverse community and it enriches us when we share different cultural practices with one another, especially about Christmas,” explained Lynette.

“Geelong is a welcoming place to people from many countries. 17.7 percent of our total population of 271,065 were born overseas.  The Council has organised many different activities to celebrate Christmas this year,” enthused Geelong Lord Mayor, Hon Trent Sullivan. 

“The Museum protects Geelong’s rich wool history, but at the same time, we also want the Museum to be home to Geelong’s different communities. That is why we are very proud to host this workshop,” reflected NWM Director Padraic Fisher whose passionate vision for the museum is a vibrant space that belongs to all peoples of Geelong, a centre for community engagement and interaction.

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“This is a first for the Filipino community in Geelong, and I’m really happy that other cultural groups want to learn parol-making too,” added Dom Diocera, Geelong’s Multicultural Policy Officer.

Padraic Fisher, NWM Director and Lord Mayor Sullivan, from City of Greater Geelong Council attended on 11 December 2022. 

Parol Making Workshop in Geelong

Thirty people participated, comprising Chinese, Malaysian, English, Australian and Filipino families who came in different age groups. Participants enthusiastically gave very positive feedback:

Parol Making Workshop in Geelong

“I am Chinese but my Filipino friends talk about parols all the time so my family came to learn to make one” (Charity) 

“I came here as a child from the Philippines but never learned to make one. My Malaysian wife and our teen-aged children want to make and understand what parol means for their heritage” (Mark)

Participants made their own parols, listened to Filipino carols and afterwards enjoyed a Filipino meryenda of puto, pansit bihon, pansit miki, spring rolls, biko, cassava cake, pandesal, Spanish Bread, polvoron and chocolates.  All agreed they all want to come back for more lessons next year!

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