Parul Sampernandu: a Kapampangan Lantern tradition

Truly a Kapampangan pride, the Parul Sampernandu, with its unique beauty and utter ingenuity, has gained its popularity nationwide and I think the Pampanga lanterns can stand out in the global arena. Parol in Filipino, and Parul in Kapampangan language, these are almost ubiquitous in every town of Pampanga.

As Sir Roland Quiambao, a master Kapampangan lantern craftsman, led our conscious thoughts to a quick historical walk through, the Parul Sampernandu started with a basic and simple design, a candle holder boxed with paper, and used during processions or limbun in Kapampangan. In the advent of industrialization, the Kapampangans harnessed the power of electricity in the craft of lantern making. The source of illumination of the Parul Sampernandu started from a modest single candle and has sprawled to hundreds even up to a thousand light bulb lantern patched with colourful and highly intricate detailed design – the Giant Lanterns of Pampanga.



With this craft that earned nationwide prominence earned this city the title of the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”. It is now one of the celebrated festivals in the Philippines and for this year 2016, it is set on December 17 in Robinsons Starmills, Pampanga. Surely, another set of Giant Lanterns would awe the crowd as the lights dance seemingly on their own – truly a marveling and captivating experience.

a Giant Lantern Design by the late Mario Datu


What makes Parul Sampernandu different from other lanterns?

According to Sir Roland, the Parul Sampernandu has its Four Parts that are emblematical for the Kapampangan culture and history:

  • Tambor – the central part of the lantern. The term is a corrupted word for drum or “tambol” in Filipino.
  • Siku-Siku – the crisscrossing part. The term came from the root word “siku”  which means elbow in English.
  • Palimbun – encircles the crisscrossing design. Limbun [root word] means procession in English.
  • Puntetas  – the edge where more intricate details are set and the term is derived from the root word “Punta” which means edge or tip.


Parts of Parul Sampernandu


Sir Roland, at the age of 61, which is not apparent with his young looking aura, is giving his best to keep the lantern making craft alive and running for the coming generations. He is happy to pass on the skills who wishes to practice it. Right now, you would observe workers of varying age in his workshop, a sign that the heritage skill will continue.



Replica of a Lantern with rotor



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Sir Roland’s Lantern Shop




Set on December 17, 2016, the Giant Lanterns of Pampanga shall again awe the world.



This is a part of the media tour, with the Pampanga Blogger’s Society coordinated by the City of San Fernando Tourism Office last December 3, 2016.



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