Museum Celebrates Holiday Season Filipino Style

Estrella Seese setting up a parol (Photo courtesy of Filipino Association of University Women)

Estrella Seese setting up a parol (Photo courtesy of Filipino Association of University Women)

WHAT: Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday: Pasko!
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., activities end at 3 p.m.
WHERE: Honolulu Museum of Art, 900 S. Beretania St.

They say the Philippines holds the record for the world’s longest Christmas season. Every year throughout the country bust out their Christmas carol soundtracks on the first of September! Building on that tradition, in December the Honolulu Museum of Art partners with the Filipino Association of University Women (FAUW) to highlight the festive Filipino-style holiday season with Pasko! A Filipino Christmas Celebration at Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday.

The museum’s halls are decked with paról—star-shaped ornamental Christmas lanterns that are hung in the windows of every Filipino home. At the event’s art activity stations, visitors can make paról and learn to wrap gifts in coconut leaves and filigreed paper, customarily used to wrap rice cakes and desserts. Children can play traditional Filipino games, try on Filipino costumes from different regions, and receive candy while learning how to "mano po” or respectfully greet elders like ninong and ninang (godparents) who give gifts during the holidays.

The holiday experience continues with display tables set for noche buena, a family feast held after midnight mass. The tables are adorned with decorative shells, brass and hand-woven materials from the Philippines. A fashion show will showcase traditional Filipino ternos and María Clara dresses.

On stage the youth orchestra Banda Kawayan play on bamboo instruments, and the Tekniqlingz Dance Crew, who combine traditional and hip-hop styles in their unique rendition of the the tinikling bamboo dance. Rocky Brown, a Miss Saigon alumnus and Waikiki performer, will perform.

The museum welcomes back two seasonal regulars—the Oahu Civic Orchestra and gospel group Essence of Heaven Faith and Praise—who will perform familiar holiday tunes.


Since 2004, the third Sunday of every month at the Honolulu Museum of Art has been free to the public, thanks to Bank of Hawaii. Each event features a program of art activities, entertainment and demonstrations held throughout the museum.

See more information about the event.

Visitors can take a free shuttle bus to Spalding House, where artists Nicole and Ryan Higa help kids make a jeepney (popular public transportation in the Philippines) ornaments. Then families can gather on the grass to enjoy live storytelling by Noelani School teacher Denalee Choy. December selections are seasonal and Filipino stories.

About the Honolulu Museum of Art
One of the world’s premier art museums presents international caliber special exhibitions and features a collection that includes Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso and Warhol, as well as traditional Asian and Hawaiian art. Located in two of Honolulu’s most beautiful buildings, visitors enjoy two cafés, gardens and films and concerts at the theater. In 2011, The Contemporary Museum gifted its assets and collection to the Honolulu Academy of Arts and in 2012, the combined museum changed its name to the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Honolulu Museum of Art: 900 S. Beretania St.
Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House: 2411 Makiki Heights Dr.
Honolulu Museum of Art School: 1111 Victoria St.
Honolulu Museum of Art at First Hawaiian Center: 9999 Bishop St.
Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre: 901 Kinau St. (at rear of museum)

Making parols (Photo courtesy of Filipino Association of University Women)

Making parols (Photo courtesy of Filipino Association of University Women)