Parol-making with lola: Disney launches Filipino-themed Christmas video

A still from Disney’s Christmas advertisement for “From Our Family to Yours” campaign

The Philippines is known for the longest Christmas season in the world with the holiday spirit starting to manifest in the “-ber” months.

Filipinos have their own set of traditions that are observed every year, such as setting up a nativity scene, attending simbang gabi, or celebrating noche buena.

One symbol of a Pinoy Christmas, in particular, is the parol, a star-shaped paper lantern that stands for hope, blessings, luck and peace.

With the holiday a little more than a month away, Disney launched its first-ever Christmas advertisement, a three-minute animated short featuring the Filipino tradition of parol-making as part of its 2020 festive campaign “From Our Family To Yours.”

The heartwarming and tear-jerking animated short, released on Monday, November 9, is inspired by the themes of traditions, family togetherness, and nostalgia. It introduces two new characters: Lola (grandmother) and her granddaughter, alongside Mickey Mouse, a beloved toy that was gifted to Lola as a young child by her father in 1940.

In the short, lola and her granddaughter, living in the UK, mainly bond over making parol, a star-shaped Christmas lantern hung outside houses in the Philippines during the holiday season. As the granddaughter grows up, she begins to favor her busy life over spending time with her lola.

One night, the granddaughter realizes just how distant she’s become to her lola after picking up Mickey Mouse in the living room, which ultimately inspires a festive surprise on Christmas morning.

The story is accompanied by the soundtrack ‘Love Is a Compass,’ performed by Ivor Novello Rising Star award nominee Griff.

“I was excited to get involved in Disney’s Christmas campaign, in support of Make-A-Wish,” Novello said.

“The lyrics of the track and the storytelling in the advert are powerful, and important. The theme of family and loved ones are so front of mind for many of us – especially this Christmas,” she added.

The advert was created by Disney EMEA’s in-house creative team, led by Angela Affinita, director of brand marketing and creative, in partnership with Flux Animation Studios.

“The ad for me is such a great reflection of the bonds between families. We all have unique traditions, especially at Christmas, so being able to draw on my own experience with my Filipina grandmother and the making of star lanterns to bring a level of authentic creativity is pretty special,” Affinita said in an interview with The Drum.

She added, “One of my favourite moments is when Lola hangs the finished lantern in the window, which recalls some wonderful memories for me.”

The advert is part of the celebrations marking a 40-year partnership with children’s charity, Make-A-Wish®, and is airing across TV and Digital plus Disney’s own channels in 26 countries in EMEA, as well as Australia, New Zealand, North America and parts of Asia.

“Our goal was to tell a universal story that inspires through the themes of family, love and special holiday traditions. We hope that Disney fans enjoy the short,” Tasia Filippatos, senior vice-president at Disney EMEA, said.

Disney is also encouraging fans to head to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to share their own past and present festive memories using #LoveFromDisney. For each special memory shared (text or image) up until Dec. 31, 2020, Disney will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish up to $100,000.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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