Thursday, January 21, 2016

Christmas (Pasko) lights, decorations, and scenes in Cebu City, Philippines

I apologize for being lazy and not posting anything to this blog for quite some time.  I thought that a good way to follow up to my last post, which was about whale shark watching in Oslob, Cebu, Philippines near Christmastime, was to post some pictures from that same trip - a vignette of sorts - to illustrate what various Christmas decorations/lights look like in the Philippines as well as some typical scenes at Christmastime.   I'll kick off a series of posts with some scenes from Cebu City, and then in the next posts I'll show some small-city and "provincial" (rural) scenes.  For many people who read this post in the United States, Europe, Canada, etc., their impressions of December and Christmastime are those of cold temperatures, often gloomy days with short daylight hours, and often some snow in the air or on the ground... obviously things are quite different in the Philippines!

There are other differences, too, and I find many of the designs of the Christmas (Pasko) lights and decorations to be very charming and distinctly Filipino.  For instance, in addition to the parols (originally a simple paper and bamboo lantern, but often now a nicely crafted brass and multi-colored capiz shell lantern with elaborately timed electric lights), there are many unique Christmas decorations, including such things as an interesting "Santa Claus suspended from a parachute" made from fiberglass.  The following photos are from our December, 2014 trip to the Philippines, and were taken mainly by my wife and our daughter (11 years old at the time).  So, without further ado, here's a look...

These are some nice residential Pasko lights and parols that we found in Cebu City on foot while strolling around after dark:

Nice light display - and it must've taken some effort to get those up into the mango tree!

Some nice parols and Pasko lights

Too bad the brightness of these parols kind of overwhelmed the colors in this photo!

These are on the cooler end of the color spectrum...

Here's a cute circular parol over someone's carport gate

This photo, and the one below it, is of a huge parol that we thought was really impressive.

Many such parols contain multiple lightbulbs and electronic computer chips that control an elaborate pattern of light display, and even music!  

Another nice parol/lights

Parols hanging up in the carport

Lights on the trees in the boulevard in the middle of the street

This photo and the one below it is of the house that has the lights in the mango tree

This simple star-shaped parol, although made of capiz shells and with electric light(s) inside, represents the simplest essence of the old-school parols from the 1800's and before, which were made of bamboo and paper and were lit by a flame to light the way of worshippers to Mass

Now, let's take a day-time trip to the mall (SM City in Cebu, in this case) to do some Christmas shopping.  On the trip to the mall, the traffic can be quite heavy at this time of the year.  Along the way, you're almost guaranteed to encounter sights that you'd never see in December in the frigid northern latitudes of the USA, Europe, Canada, Japan, Korea, etc.,  such as...

A toddler getting a bath in a plastic tub, on the sidewalk!
A vendor selling pomelos (AKA in Cebuano as buongon, and in Tagalog as lukban or suha -- somewhat similar to grapefruit but sweeter) in the street.

The ubiquitous jeepney - the originals of which were crafted post-war from WWII US Army jeeps

...some of which are elaborately decorated
...and another Jeepney, this one emblazoned with a Star of David.

And on the way to the mall, you just might happen to pass a guy driving a pedicab with a load of "puso" (hanging rice), which is a diamond-shaped lump of cooked rice with banana leaves woven around it. 

Arriving at the mall (SM City in Cebu City, in this case), you might find nifty lights to indicate vacant or full parking spots, and an elevator attendant to take you from the parking lot deck to your desired floor... the latter of which I think is a very clever innovation that we in the US should implement in our parking garages!

SM City Cebu with neat Christmas lights on trees.  Can barely see our daughter in the center, with her Auntie and cousin.

Parking space occupied/vacant lights

Elevator attendant, who is constantly being watched by a large woman with lots of jewelry.

Finally, inside the mall, you'll find some beautiful displays, including a huge Christmas tree made of balls of different colors, and some "Winter Wonderland" dioramas in stark opposition to the balmy tropical weather outside:

Our daughter with the huge ball ornament Christmas tree in SM City, Cebu

A panoramic balcony view of the beautiful Christmas decorations and tree in the SM City Mall, Cebu.  Note the snowy "Winter Wonderland" dioramas below.

So that's a small snapshot of some of the Christmas decorations you might see in a large city in the Philippines, in this case Cebu City.  Next time I'll cover the same from the small town perspective.    :-)


  1. That's Ms Universe Gloria Diaz - the "large woman looking at the elevator attendant!" :)

    1. Kumusta Joan, thanks for stopping by my blog! LOL I am glad that you found my little humorous quip there! :-) I look forward to visiting your blog soon.


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