December is greeted with a chorus of joyful carols accompanied by a melody of clanging cans, and responds with gentle, cold caresses on plump cheeks. Every winding road is traced with colorful lights, guiding the litter of cars and the sea of people along the path. They cover the once bare houses in the village, shining on every door or radiantly flaunting their elegance on great balconies. Piercing through the barrier of tradition, these stars of Christmas became some-thing more than pretty ornaments.
These stars are an attraction during the Christmas season. But behind every artwork is a skilled hand worn out from years of perfecting its craft.
Christmas lights and lanterns have become a source of livelihood for a lot of drop-outs like Jan, a parol maker for seven years. He claims that the job gives him enough to get by. Even so, he believes that to stay in a business for so long, one has to enjoy what he or she is doing.
“You can’t continue doing something unless you enjoy doing it,” Jan reasoned out. “Yes. At first I was just forced to enter the business, but eventually, I realized that this was something that gives my life meaning.
However, even people who managed to graduate from college make and sell parols. Carlo Paras, a well-known parol business owner in Dolores, San Fernando, shared his reason for holding on to his shop for 35 years,
“Even if people attain a high level of education, they tend to go back to where they are rooted or raised, especially if it can provide what they need. We naturally long for a sense of home,” Carlo said.
Christmas decorations weren’t made to tell a sad tale, they were created to symbolize joy and thanksgiving. Thus, the true story each twinkling star holds never gets told.
Despite the melancholic subject, Jan shared his pitfalls with a constant radiance in his smile, “I remember a storm once tore our stall apart, taking all the fruits of my hardwork. It was a really rough time for us. But things like that just come and go. I had no time to sulk. I have a stomach to fill,” The common denominator of Carlo and Jan is that they can both look back to the hard times with a positive attitude. Carlo recalls his workers running away from him, taking months of undeserved pay.
“The good thing is that you learn to adjust according to your misfortune,” Carlo stated matter-of-factly.
Life never really knew what it meant to be easy and time was its main accomplice to make everything complicated. The high moments never lasted that long and the best part is that the low times never did, either. Nevertheless, it helps us make the best out of different situations.
Carlo and Jan are living proofs that rewards sprout from passion and hardwork. “I still recommend others to enter the business,” Jan insisted. “As long as one is dedicated enough, no challenge is too difficult.”
On the other hand, Carlo believed that any business would be successful as long as the person loves the job. “My only advice to those who want to start a business is this: Love what you do. Everything else will follow,” he said.
Carrying these interesting stories with me, I finally realize that it is not the color or the brightness of parols that makes them beautiful. It is not the size or the materials used that make them so special. And tradition is not the only reason why people seek for quality parols on the busy streets. It is probably because some of us know that each bundle of light has a unique story to tell and hope-fully because its brilliance reminds us of the battles we triumphed and the sacrifices we will never regret.
May it be a patient reminder that we can never hate something we truly love regardless of the difficulties we face. I am not a fan of ornaments, but I find myself clutching a shining parol on one hand. May its ember instill in me that love is indeed the light that never goes out.
This reportage was published in Feature Section of The Central Scholar,the official student publication of Philippine Science High School Central Luzon Campus that won Third Place in the 2015 National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Taguig City.