What’s this 20-ft parol doing outside Ayala Museum? 2
The giant parol is now at Ayala Museum’s Open Space. Photo by Mark Morales of Silverlens

What’s a 20-foot parol doing outside Ayala Museum three months after Christmas?

Reminding us about our history, culture, identity, that’s what.
ANCX Staff | Mar 26 2022

If you’ve been cooped up at home and happened to pass by Ayala Museum from now til the 1st of April, you’ll probably think maintenance hasn’t come around to taking down the building’s Christmas ornaments yet. But in fact, the giant parol fronting the institution right now is an art installation by Filipino light and media artist James Clar. 

The Fil-Am light and media artist James Clar. Photograph from Silverlens Gallery.
The Fil-Am light and media artist James Clar. Photograph from Silverlens Gallery.

The 20-foot lantern is part of the ongoing 9th edition of Art Fair Philippines, and from the description of both Silverlens Galleries and Ayala Museum, the main presenters of Clar’s installation, it’s not intended to give your that Christmas “warm and fuzzy” feeling, although you’re free to feel that way too.  

The work is called “I Can’t Tell You What I Don’t Know, Only That I Don’t Know,” and Clar worked in collaboration with the team of giant parol makers from Santa Lucia in San Fernando, Pampanga. It’s aimed at visualizing the never-ending process of making sense of our country’s language, culture, and history. 


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“The cylinders, which trigger the lights on the massive 20-foot diameter parol, is wrapped with a written version of Lupang Hinirang,” explains Ayala Museum on Instagram. The lantern is envisioned to appear like a humongous brain “whose gears can be seen as the rotating cylinders in the giant parol. The processing of the information animates the lights like neurons firing in the brain.” 

Behind the lights. Photo courtesy of Silverlens Gallery.
Behind the lights. Photo courtesy of Silverlens Gallery.

“Through this process, everyone native or foreign born including cultural workers all have a role in the perception of who we are,” says Silverlens. 

The giant parol will keep you thinking about your cultural makeup, or maybe just trigger that warm, fuzzy feeling until April Fools Day. Also, it only lights up every half hour in the evenings from 6PM to 8PM. Go and see it but don’t expect to see a bibingka and puto bumbong stall near the area. (Although that would have been a good idea.) 

[The Ayala Museum is located in Makati Avenue corner Dela Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati City.]