So, I heard from some wall post at KP about this "Parol ng Halina". Well, we found out that this is a Filipino version of the Advent Wreath which the Christians in the Western world use, including Catholics. Here's a repost from one of Kuya Caloy Palad's blogs which I'm following:
And yeah.... I'm back for the side-comments.
The "Parol ng Halina", a Filipino twist on the Advent wreath
The "Parol ng Halina" ("Lantern of Invitation") for every Sunday of Advent, with the parols for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Sundays colored purple or violet while the parol for the 3rd Sunday is rose or pink, that Sunday being Gaudete Sunday, when the liturgy of the Church assumes a restrained joy in anticipation of the exalted night of the Nativity [So that the whole structure becomes the wreath.... Cool enough]. The four parols are hung from the roof of the church, directly above the main aisle, with the newer parols being hung nearer to the altar (or to the place prepared for the creche). These could also be hung from different corners of the church.
How is the series of parols concluded? In one variation, the fifth and final parol, which is white, is hung on Christmas Eve above the creche. In another variation, the white parol is made to slide from one end to the church, stopping right above the Nativity scene, before or during the Mass of Christmas Eve [I'd prefer the latter].
I don't know when the current five-parol custom started. It is basically a Filipino adaptation of the symbolism of the Advent wreath, and since the latter began to be popular in Catholic churches only in the 1950's and 1960's then the five-lantern combination couldn't be older than that. However, it was already observed in Sta. Teresita Parish (the headquarters of the Capuchin Franciscans in the Philippines) at Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City when I was a parishioner there in the 1990's [So the custom was existing for quite some time now]. Then and now, only a small minority of parishes observe this; the Advent wreath continues to be the dominant way of marking Advent inside Filipino churches [Because of Westernization(?)].
Furthermore, many Filipino parishes tend to use parols as mere Christmas decorations, without any discernible attempt to relate these to the liturgical cycles of Advent, the Simbang Gabi, and Christmas [In a way, this Parol ng Halina is uplifting the parol in the Filipino tradition of Advent and Christmas. That's nice].
However, already prior to Vatican II, during the Mass of Christmas Eve, many Filipino parishes observed the custom of having a white parol slide from one end of the church down towards the creche, stopping right above it, thus symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Magi to the Christ Child. (A related custom observed in some Filipino parishes or communities is that of having an altar server bear a large white or multi-colored parol at the head of the entrance procession for the Mass of Christmas Eve. I have no idea how old this custom is, either; alas, there is so little information on the history behind so many Filipino customs and traditions!) [Now that really means, this is quite old already!]
At the beginning of this month, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan gave a boost to the custom of "Parol ng Halina" by strongly endorsing it as an alternative to the Advent Wreath [A Filipino version could be another term]. His letter on this matter can be found on the website of his Archdiocese (Circular 2011/35: Alternative to the Advent Wreath) and he has provided a ritual for the blessing of the "Parol ng Halina" as well (Order for the Blessing of Parol ng Halina).
As usual, some Philippine secular media outlets misreported the Archbishop's directive as a denunciation of the Advent Wreath as "Protestant", and as advocating that parish churches hang parols instead. The fact of the matter is that Filipino parishes need no prompting to hang parols, as these are ubiquitous in the Philippines in the days just before and after Christmas, and no parish ever goes without these. Furthermore, the Advent Wreath is truly Protestant in origin (German Lutheran to be exact) [Despite the veracity of the info, the media have called a wrong emphasis, then]. German-speaking Catholics began to adopt it only in the years before World War II and it began to spread to Catholics outside of German-speaking communities only in the post-World War II era. The Archbishop merely alluded to this origin, and explicitly stated that he had no intention or desire to ban the Advent Wreath from the parishes within his jurisdiction [much like the misinterpretation that the Novus Ordo takes the place of the TLM, which in reality, only exalts the TLM as the Extraordinary Form].
It should be noted, though, that the "Parol ng Halina", while an "alternative" to the Advent Wreath, is basically a variation upon the latter's usual American form (three purple candles and one rose or pink candle), and would be unintelligible to most Filipinos without the Advent Wreath as a point of reference [Of course, the faithful will be asking about it].
(Photo source: link)
Well, why not? It's our homegrown Advent Wreath. Maybe next year, I'll be designing a DP with the parols taking the place of the candles, aside from starting the use of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal in English.