MANILA, Philippines – With just over a month till the most-awaited celebration of the year, parol (Christmas lantern) makers and sellers have already lined some city streets with their festive wares.
At the corner of Finlandia Street and Osmeña Highway in Makati City, vendors from different parts of the Metro have flocked together to set up their lantern businesses.
The parol represents the creativity of Filipinos and is one of the best known Philippine expressions of the Christmas spirit.
“Ito ‘yung isa sa tumutulong sa amin sa buhay kapag Pasko. Libangan na rin namin kaya hindi kami masyadong napapagod (This helps us during Christmas time. It’s also our hobby so we don’t get too tired doing it),” Ang says.
She says buyers of Christmas lanterns start flocking to the area around September.
“September pa lang nagsisimula na kaming magtinda kasi marami nang naghahanap (We start selling in September because many are already looking for it),” she says.
Ang says the arrival of the “ber” months or the last 4 months of the year – September to December – signals that it’s time to design and make parol.
During this time, she temporarily leaves her home in Rizal and stays in her Makati shop with her assistants in anticipation of brisk sales as Christmas nears.
Ang says they lost money on their first year. “Nagsimula kami ng asawa ko na walang alam sa mga ilaw na ganito, kaya after a year nalugi kami (My husband and I didn’t know anything about these lights [used in lanterns], so after a year we lost money).”
Despite the initial failure, the determined Ang pressed on until she finally got a hold of the business.
Ang spends most of the year sourcing her materials, then tends her shop from September until Christmas day.
Earning money, however, is not the only reason why Ang enjoys being in the parol business. She says she also finds joy in helping other people in their community by offering them jobs in her shop.
The Angs’ business is a family affair. The 4 children are all accounting graduates with regular jobs but they help market their products on the Internet and through social media.
The lanterns sell from P600 for the small ones to P2,000.
Ang also sells huge Christmas trees with lights, and accepts special orders from companies that want customized lanterns.