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LOOK: Lighting up for Christmas, praying for better days amid COVID pandemic

Text and photos by Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2021 05:48 AM | Updated as of Nov 17 2021 08:38 AM

It's hard to miss the festive feeling navigating Granada street in Quezon City, as sparkling lights displayed outside the lantern shops greet motorists every day.

Sato Laxa, one of the lantern makers and store owners there, started out in the parol business when he was 10 years old, helping his grandmother make the traditional Christmas lanterns out of bamboo sticks covered with colorful Japanese paper. Forty-five years later, he operates his own lantern shop along Granada in Barangay Valencia, as recalled his fondness the sparkling lights gave him.
 
The shop sells Capiz lanterns and balls, mostly done at workshops in Pampanga then customized in Quezon City, based on clients' preferences. LED-lanterns that come in different Christmas-themed shapes are also available for those who opt for modern designs.

Laxa and his partner, Weng, are thankful as business has gradually improved this year. Weng recalls having difficulty providing enough for their families, as sales severely dropped during the pandemic. This year has been better, as they observed an estimated 15-percent increase in sales when the “Ber” months started. 
 
While some customers get new lanterns, some have their old ones refurbished or repaired for practicality. Some buyers say, that despite financial challenges, lighting up their homes for Christmas is as a form of prayer and petition symbolizing God’s presence, as Filipinos endure amid challenging times.

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Colorful lights bring a festive mood while motorists navigate Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City in this photo taken on November 16, 2021. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Customers check lantern designs at the store of Sato Laxa and Nenstar and Nyah Capiz shop along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. The lantern shops also customize design based on client request.Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Store owner Sato Laxa and his partner, Weng, wait for customers at their lantern shop along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on September 29, 2021. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

A storekeeper at Nenstar and Nyah Capiz shop waits for customers on September 30, 2021. Lantern sales last year dropped, as Metro Manila was placed under COVID-19 lockdown. Lantern makers are hoping for better sales this year. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Customers check lantern shops along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. Buyers have slowly increased at the onset of the “Ber” months. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sato Laxa and partner Weng arrange lanterns inside their store along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. Laxa noticed about a 15-percent increase in sales this year compared to last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sato Laxa makes star figures for a LED-lantern inside his store along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. Demand on LED lanterns also grew as others opt for modern lantern designs. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Lantern makers work on the Nativity scene set LED lanterns in front of a closed shop along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia on November 14, 2021. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Jeman works on a Santa and reindeer LED lantern along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. In a day, experienced LED lantern makers can finish about 4 to 5 sets of the Santa and reindeer design. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sato Laxa put the finishing touches on a customized pink lantern at his store along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sato Laxa and Jeman secure a custom-made lantern they recently finished inside his store along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sam Laxa and husband Jeman wait for customers outside their lantern shop along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021. Lantern shops along Granada are open daily from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sam Laxa and husband Jeman wait for customers at their lantern shop along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City, on November 13, 2021. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sam Laxa talks to her child as they wait for customers at their lantern shop along Granada Street in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City on November 13, 2021.Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Motorists drive past lantern shops along Granada Street in Quezon City. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News