Abra inmates spread cheer with Christmas lanterns

Carmela Jimenez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2016 08:14 PM

BANGUED, Abra — In a bid to spread the spirit of Christmas early, 30 inmates of the Abra Provincial Jail have turned to lantern-making.

As early as September, the inmates were taught how to make Christmas lanterns as part of their livelihood training. 

Vergel Sto. Domingo, who is in charge of designs, said that inmates were eager to learn.

Abra Provincial Jail inmates prepare materials for use in making Christmas lanterns. Carmela Jimenez, ABS-CBN News

"Hindi naman sila mahirap turuan kasi kapag nasa loob ka talaga [ng bilangguan], magiging creative ka. Gusto talaga nilang matuto," Sto. Domingo said. 

(They are not difficult to teach, because when you are in prison, you become creative. They want to learn.)

Lantern-making also helps the inmates express their creativity and develop discipline, added Robert Formoso, a consultant of the Abra Provincial Jail.

"Mas nagkaroon sila ng disiplina at pag-asa. Pinapaalala namin na ito na iyong pagkakataon nila [na magbago]," Formoso said.

(They develop discipline and find hope. We remind them that this is their chance to change.)

Lantern-making also helps them look at the bright side of life, said inmates. One inmate, "Joe," said the creative activity is a big help in taking their minds off their troubles. His wife died while he was in jail.

"Nagpapasalamat kami, malaking tulong ito sa amin. Hindi ko nakita ang asawa ko noong nilibing," he said.

(I am thankful for this, it is a big help to us. I did not see my wife buried when she died.)

Lantern-making also helps inmates earn money: the steel lanterns cost P8,000, while bamboo lanterns sell for P500 to P1,000.

According to inmate "Mel," who has been in prison for three years, it helps him provide for his family. 

"Nakakatulong po sa pamilya. Kasi nag-aaral pa po iyong anak ko," he said.

(This helps me provide form my family. My child is still in school.)

Inmates created this lantern for use during the province's centennial celebration this month. Carmela Jimenez, ABS-CBN News

Steel lanterns, especially made for the province’s centennial celebration this month, will be distributed to the 27 municipalities of Abra.

After the Christmas season, the inmates will continue making fans, vases, and lamp shades from recycled materials, as part of their livelihood training which has been ongoing for three years.