Christmas feature

Carpenter from Guadalupe shares his Christmas lantern story

By: Immae Lachica - CDN Digital | December 02,2019 - 07:09 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines— Adorno.

A word that best describes Christmas lanterns.

But have you ever wondered how these lanterns are made? How long one is made and who makes them?

This holiday season, let’s get to know one man who has been making Christmas lanterns for decades.

Meet Dario Caballes, a 57-year-old carpenter and parol maker from Sitio Panaghi-usa, Guadalupe, Cebu City.

Watch video: Faces of Cebu: OnRecord — Parol Maker

How he started

Dario, who has been making parol or Christmas lanterns for more than 20 years, shared with CDN Digital how he fell in love in making these beautiful Christmas decor.

“Ulitawo pa ko, naghimo na kog parol kay among silingan kani-adto mao ang nag ingganyo nako sa paghimo, sa una nakalarga na kog Manila, Cagayan de Oro para lang mohimog parol,” says Dario.

(I was still single at that time when our neighbor convinced me to make lanterns. I have since travelled to Manila and Cagayan de Oro to make lanterns.)

He also recalled back in the day what materials they used to make parols, and how it slowly changed over the years.

“Sa una nagsugod mis paghimo gamit ang papel de hapon, (laughs), sos, dali kaayo to mawala ang color labi na mauwanan, unya naghinay-hinay na mig gamit og charol para mas mohayag ang color,” he adds.

(At first, we used Japanese paper for our lanterns, but when it would get wet when it would rain the color would fade. Then we slowly used charol so that the color of our lanterns would be brighter.)

Charol is a kind of plastic thicker than the ordinary colored plastic to make Christmas lanterns.

Going into the business

As time passed, Dario was confident with his talent in making parols and decided to start his own business in 2004.

“Sa una akong labing dako nga parol mabaligya ra nakog P65. Grabe ang paghinay-hinay sa saka sa presyo, pero mas nagkadaghan sab ang gusto magpahimo,” says Dario.

(At first, the biggest Christmas lantern I made was sold at P65. The price of a lantern eventually went up but it took quite a while. However,  I got more clients who wanted me to make them Christmas lanterns.)

In his home in Guadalupe in Cebu City, he has a small work area where he makes these Christmas lanterns.

First, Dario has to cut one whole bamboo into small pieces to turn them into tiny bamboo sticks for him to form into a star.

Next, he connects the bamboo sticks and locks it with the use of metal wire.

After, it is time to paste the charol around the figure of the star lantern and then after that the designs are added.

Price and size

Dario sells his lanterns according to size.

For his 12 inches, Christmas lanterns he sell it for P30, for 24 inches P 120 and his 30-inched lantern for P300.

Dario can finish making 50 to 60 pieces of parol with the help of his children.

“Pito na akong mga anak, usa ray babae ug ang uban motabang sab nako sa paghimo,” he says.

(I have seven children and one of them is a girl and some of them will help me make Christmas lanterns.)

In a week, Dario earns at least P10,000 where he sets aside P8,000 to buy the materials for his lanterns. The remaining money is what he uses for the needs of his family.

Dario, who is also a carpenter, tells CDN Digital that he starts making these Christmas lanterns as early as June and accepts orders on the month of September.

“Hulmahon na lang nako daan ang mga parol sa Hunyo para sa September taptap nalang og deretso-deretso na sa pagbaligya,” says Dario.

(I form the bamboo structure of the lantern in June so that in September all that I will have to do is to attach the charol and sell it immediately.)

This Christmas season, we asked him what he wishes for, and he just smiled and replied, “Basta magkauban lang mi sa akong pamilya ug naay makaon sa among lamisa sa Noche Buena, sakto na (As long as the family stays together and we will have food to eat during the Noche Buena. That is enough for me).”

Dario is one of the many men behind these Christmas lanterns we often adorn our houses, streets, offices, and schools with.

It is through his creativity and passion to make these Christmas lanterns that we still get to live this tradition of hanging these traditional colorful lanterns over the years.

Christmas lanterns are among the many symbols of the merriest season of all— Christmas. /dbs

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TAGS: Caballes, carpenter, charol, Christmas lantern, Guadalupe, Holiday Season, parol, parol maker

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