By Therese Angeli Nunez
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The colorful roundish and spiked image of the Covid-19 virus may elicit fright among people, especially who have been infected by it, but its varying creative design renditions in Christmas lanterns crafted in Pampanga command special interest and preference among tourists and lantern buyers.
Christmas lantern making is a major industry in Pampanga. The industry has earned for the province the enviable title as the Christmas capital of the Philippines. Pampangos fabricate huge giant lanterns which have found their way to various worlds capitals where they have been showcased and earned pride for Filipinos.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic threat, the Christmas spirit has started to come alive in Pampanga. Even as Christmas day is still two and a half months away, both local residents and visitors can now feel the holiday mood rising up here as brilliant displays of lights begin showing up in stores, streets, and houses. Christmas lanterns form part of Pinoy culture and traditions.
Robinsons Starmills Pampanga, the regular venue of the Giant Lantern Festival, or “Ligligan Parul,” here now lively exudes the yuletide spirit wit its sparkling Christmas lights and decorations.
Aside from the sparkling displays in malls, colorful Christmas lanterns now also brighten the Abacan Bridge, Pandan Bridge, and Friendship Highway Bridge in Angeles City.
Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. said Paskong Angeleño permeates their city atmosphere even if they fear the Covid-19 pandemic. He said they may not have the usual joyful Christmas celebration “but we are trying to beat this obtaining and the lanterns surely symbolize our triumph over the darkness brought about by Covid-19.”
Christmas lanterns and decorations have now also brightened other Pampanga communities provincewide. Porac town mayor Jaime Capili said their “simple efforts aim to bring joy to the hearts of their local residents, not with standing the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Pampanga’s Christmas lantern industry in widely known.
This year, however, local lantern makers admit they may not reap its usual seasonal benefits, but they expressed their optimism Filipinos “will not let the gloom of the pandemic rob them of the Christmas joy.”
Lantern industry players here refuse to let go their their enthusiasm and optimism. They said they feel the tight budgets of people caused by the Covid crisis but they expect brisker sales as December draws nearer, even as some customers inquire about the “repair of their old lanterns.” she shared.
Lantern maker Ronald Guarino has acknowledged the huge impact of the pandemic which has significantly shrunk their sales. He said he was forced to reduce his usual dozen workers to only four this year because of low orders and sales.
Interestingly, as cited earlier, many lantern buyers prefer the Covid virus-inspired lantern models which are highly popular. The models feature varying creative renditions of the Covid virus in dominantly bright red colors.