Christmas lanterns brighten up dark nights in Tacloban


05:42 PM November 30th, 2013

By: Joey Gabieta, November 30th, 2013 05:42 PM

A Typhoon Haiyan survivor walks past a dead body, wrapped in plastic Christmas theme wrapping in Tacloban on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. AP FILE PHOTO

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—It’s beginning to look like Christmas in this typhoon-battered city as colorful “parol” or Christmas lanterns have brightened up the grounds of  the Santo Niño Church here.

About 10 lanterns have been put up on the premises of the church since Thursday evening, providing some light  during the otherwise pitch-black nights of Tacloban City.

“The parol at this time is a symbol of hope for all of us in the midst of darkness. It can be a symbol of Christ himself who is the light,” said Fr. Amadeo Alvero, one of the  priests at the Santo Niño Church and spokesperson of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Palo to which the Santo Niño Church belongs.

“Indeed we need to celebrate Christmas. With or without (Typhoon)Yolanda, the church will celebrate Christmas,” Alvero added.

Light for the lanterns comes from a power generator acquired by the church recently, said Germaine Delicano, personal assistant of parish priest Msgr. Alex Opiniano.

According to Alvero, celebrating Christmas in the wake of the destruction left by Yolanda has become “more fitting and meaningful, knowing that we have a savior to save us from our pain and suffering caused by Yolanda.”

Cristina Capambe, a 72-year-old resident of Barangay 42-B in this city, said the brightly lit parol did not only give her the feeling of Christmas but most of all, the feeling of hope.

“These parol that adorn our church premises, for me, signal that Christmas is with us now, that despite what Yolanda destroyed, faith was not among them,” Capambe told the Inquirer.

For Hernando Trangie, 40, who is from Manila, just looking at the colorful and well-lighted lanterns make him happy.

“This makes me forget the gloom caused by Yolanda in your place,” said Trangie, a worker among those hired to fix the Sto. Niño Church that was severely damaged by the supertyphoon.

Delicano said they were glad the parishioners appreciate the Christmas lanterns.

“This will uplift the spirits of our people that somehow Christmas must be celebrated even though we were badly hit by Yolanda,” Delicano said.

He said the parol were old ones retrieved from their stockroom that were used annually to decorate the church grounds starting every November 24, during the Christ the King celebration, until after the Christmas season is over.

Regular Masses were still held at the Sto. Niño Church despite the extensive damage it sustained, estimated to cost some P20 million to repair.

The roof and the ceiling of the main hall of the Church were blown away by the typhoon although the roof on the left and right wings remained intact. The ceiling of the church’s belfry was also destroyed.

The life-sized images of the saints and that of the Blessed Virgin Mary located at the church’s left wing were toppled.

The Santo Niño Church is believed to have been built in the 1700s but underwent several renovations. In the early 1980s, then First Lady and now Rep. Imelda Marcos initiated a major renovation of the church that included the construction of the left and right wings.

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