Philippine jails

‘Pink Parol Project’ helps Ilocos Sur inmates earn income

John Michael Mugas
‘Pink Parol Project’ helps Ilocos Sur inmates earn income

PINK CHRISTMAS. A house in Ilocos Sur province displays pink lanterns in support of the Leni-Kiko tandem in the 2022 elections.

Courtesy of Katrina Aguila

The Dapat si Leni-Ilocos Sur group commissions these pink lanterns from inmates of the Ilocos Sur provincial jail

ILOCOS SUR, Philippines – Pink lanterns now hanging from the homes of Vice President Leni Robredo’s volunteers in Ilocos Sur province do more than express support for the presidential aspirant.

Inmates of the Ilocos Sur provincial jail (ISPJ) made the lanterns, which were commissioned by the Dapat si Leni (DSL)-Ilocos Sur group under the “Pink Parol Project.”

DSL said they saw an opportunity to blend expression and aid by joining the initiative of the jail facility allowing inmates to create and sell lanterns as a source of income during the “ber” months that mark the Philippines’ long Christmas season.

“In campaigning for Leni, we want to do projects and support the livelihood of small entrepreneurs and those in the community,” the group said in a statement. The lantern project is one of several that break away from using more traditional campaign materials.

Dr. Nico Mabanag suggested last October to have displays of pink lanterns during the Christmas season. Another volunteer, Emmeline Versoza, thought of the parol designs. Volunteer Roland Repato then raised the idea of commissioning ISPJ inmates at ISPJ to aid them.

“We were able to carry out the project and talked with the administration of ISPJ to allow the inmates, known for their parol-making skills and creativity, to produce them for us,” the volunteers said.

Room, Indoors, Interior Design
PINK HOLIDAY. Another house in Ilocos Sur province displays pink lanterns. Courtesy of Katrina Aguila

So far, the inmates have created some 300 lanterns worth P40,000 for the first two batches of orders from Robredo supporters in Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, and Rizal provinces. Each lantern costs from P70 to P350, depending on its size and design.  

Since the initiative started, DSL said the orders have kept coming in. However, the group said, they have temporarily halted receiving orders because “some of the inmates who created the first two batches of orders had to be isolated as part of protocols when they attend a hearing outside the jail facilities.”

The inmates have always been in demand for their skills and are usually tapped by local government units. This time, their orders came in as early as October because of private projects like the ones launched by the DSL.

DSL said they are hopeful their “Pink Parol Project” will be able to help the families of inmates and create an “impact which could serve as hope, and enlightenment to voters on who we should vote for in the coming 2022 elections.” –

John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship