International Partnerships
March 14, 2024

ULSE-BPS Conference 2024 – Lights and Lanterns: Shining Safely to the World


On March 13, 2024, UL Standards & Engagement and the Bureau of Philippine Standards held a joint conference in San Fernando City, Pampanga, Philippines to explore how standards can help advance the safe growth of the country’s electric lantern industry. Representatives from both organizations presented at the conference, and were joined by industry stakeholders, San Fernando City Mayor Vilma B. Caluag, and members from the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry and the City Tourism and Investment Promotion Office of San Fernando.

Electric lanterns, or parols, are a traditional holiday decoration in the Philippines, displayed throughout the Christmas season. For more than 100 years, San Fernando City has been a central location for parol manufacturing and has gained global recognition for its Giant Lantern Festival, which is marked by elaborate displays of light and color. Because of the festival and its relationship with the parol industry, San Fernando City is often referred to as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”

Brigida T. Pili, Regional Director, Philippines Department of Trade and Industry

“Every lantern carries within it the promises of a new dawn, reminding us that there is always light waiting to guide us forward,” said DTI Regional Director Brigida T. Pili.

In December 2022, BPS adopted UL 588, the Standard for Seasonal and Holiday Decorative Products to help advance safety during holiday celebrations. The Standard covers temporary-use, factory-assembled lighting strands and decorations including wreaths, stars, and light sculptures, requiring that decorations be constructed with the strength and rigidity necessary to withstand normal use, without increasing the risk of fire, electric shock, or injury.

Through the conference, ULSE and BPS aimed to raise awareness and encourage voluntary adoption of UL 588 among micro, small, and medium enterprise stakeholders, while also galvanizing industry and regulators to provide MSME stakeholders with support, such as testing and technical services, and government incentives.

Mayor Caluag
Vilma B. Caluag, Mayor, San Fernando City, Pampanga, Philippines

“The San Fernando lantern is our way of sending messages of love, hope, and faith to the people all around the world,” said Mayor Caluag. “But behind the glamour of the lanterns, we also make sure that the makers of them are not being left behind. We regularly give them opportunities, skills, and livelihood trainings, and that is why we like to thank UL for supporting us in providing support to our makers.”

ULSE Director of Standards Programs Deb Prince presented at the conference on the history of UL 588, highlighting its initial publication in 1921 to reduce fires caused by Christmas lights, as well as significant revisions in its history to incorporate technological developments such as LED and rope lighting.

Deb Prince
Deb Prince, Director of Standards Programs, ULSE

“UL 588 has a long history of helping families and communities celebrate the holidays safely, and we are thrilled to see its adoption in the Philippines to enhance safety for parol lanterns,” Prince said. “Further, we welcome input from technical experts in the Philippines - producers and supply chain professionals – to assist in the ongoing development of this standard.”

ULSE ASEAN Regional Standards Director Kolin Low also presented, sharing case studies of regulatory authorities that have adopted UL standards for products including decorative lighting, electric personal mobility devices, and fire products and systems. Futher, Prince and Low shared how stakeholders can get involved in the UL standards development process.

“ULSE is proud to now be a part of the rich tradition of parol lanterns in the Philippines, and we likewise welcome the input of experts from the San Fernando lantern industry,” Low said. “Nobody knows parols better than the experts in San Fernando, and through BPS and ULSE collaboration, we look forward to collating their inputs as we continually improve this standard.”

“UL Standards are developed by consensus among independent stakeholders through an open and rigorous process,” Low continued. “They help build trust that the Philippine parols are safe and globally competitive.”

Kolin Low, BPS Director Neil Catajay, Deb Prince