Christmas a season of joy for PH decor, light makers, too
MANILA, Philippines—Christmas in the Philippines—a country known to have the longest observance of the Christmas season—is not complete without Christmas-themed decors and ornaments, such as the iconic parol or lanterns that come in different sizes, shapes, and colors.
The City of San Fernando in Pampanga, dubbed as the “Christmas capital of the Philippines,” is known for its huge and colorful lanterns during the Christmas season. It is home to generations of craftsmen from families of giant lantern makers.
READ: Pampanga’s parol making tradition thrives in Cebu City
Locally made Christmas decors and ornaments—like Pampanga’s famous Christmas lanterns—however, do not only bring cheer to homes and ease stress across the country. These products also offer light and warmth in countries around the world as they get exported and sold overseas.
In fact, several studies found that the Philippines is among the top exporters of Christmas decorations—including Christmas tree lights and other ornaments—gaining an export value of at least a hundred million US dollars every year.
PH among largest Christmas decor exporter in 2021
Data from the United Nations (UN) Comtrade showed that the Philippines was among the top five exporters of Christmas decors and tree lights in 2021, along with China—the largest exporter accounting for 66 percent of total global exports of Christmas tree lighting sets and 90 percent exports of other Christmas decors—Cambodia, Netherlands, and Germany.
Last year, the export value of the Philippines’ Christmas products reached USD$108M or around P6B. Christmas ornaments export value was USD$11M and its Christmas tree lights export value was USD$97M.
In September, however, Bloomberg reported that India has overtaken the Philippines as the fifth largest Christmas decor exporter to the United States (US) after it has shipped USD$20M worth of festive goods and accessories.
The Philippines, on the other hand, was able to export USD$14.17M worth of Christmas decors.
“[India’s] sea-borne shipments of festival goods and accessories to America touched $20 million last month, almost triple the value from the year-ago period, according to US Customs data,” the Bloomberg report said.
“In the process, India gained a clear lead over the Philippines as buyers diversify supply sources in the face of rising labor costs and disruptions from China’s strict Covid-zero policy,” it added.
PH gains from Christmas decor exports
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed how the export value of the country’s Christmas decors changed in the past years, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic—which has disrupted several businesses, including trade in Christmas lanterns.
READ: Pampanga lantern makers create jobs in ‘Christmas capital’
Latest data showed that the Philippines’ export value of Christmas decor dropped by 16.8 percent from around P6B in January to October 2021 to P5B during the same period this year.
In terms of comparing the January to December data, figures showed that the export value of Christmas decor increased by 43.2 percent between 2020 and 2021—from at least P4.3B to P6.1B.
The PSA data also showed that the country’s export value of Christmas decors rose during the holiday season between 2020 and 2021.
From P18M in November 2020, the value went up by 208.1 percent to around P57M in November 2021. Likewise, the export value of Christmas decors increased by 83.67 percent in December 2021 with P60M worth of exports from P32M in December 2020.
Every year, reports of fires caused by Christmas lights or Christmas tree lights are reported globally—including cases from the Philippines—causing injuries and even deaths.
Last month, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) warned the public against fires caused by faulty Christmas lights.
“We don’t want fire incidents to occur this Christmas this year. Most of the fire incidents during the Christmas season are caused by electrical fire. So please take care of our Christmas lights and ensure that they will not be the cause of fire or the source of fire,” Senior Fire Officer 1 (SFO1) Arlan Ambas said in a report by ABS-CBN.
The Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Philippine Standards (DTI-BPS) urged consumers to only purchase Christmas lights that bear the Philippine Standard (PS) mark or the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker to be assured of the product safety and quality.
“Christmas lights in the market that do not bear the PS mark or the ICC sticker are assumed to have not undergone the certification process of the DTI-BPS. Thus, they pose risks on safety such as fire and electric shock,” DTI-BPS Director Neil P. Catajay warned.
“We encourage the public to always look for the PS mark or the ICC sticker when purchasing these products in stores or when buying online. Always confirm with the seller if their products are DTI-certified. Consumers can also verify the authenticity of ICC stickers by using the ICC Verification Mobile App or by contacting us,” Catajay added.
This year, the DTI-BPS has again released its list of DTI-certified Christmas lights brands to serve as guide for consumers.
The DTI-BPS also urged consumers to follow these additional safety reminders:
- Those who will be reusing Christmas lights from last year must carefully inspect the plug and cord of the lighting set for brittle and dented parts, as the insulation material made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) plastic deteriorates over time.
- Dispose old and damaged Christmas lights.
- If stored Christmas lights can still be used but have burnt out bulbs, DTI recommends replacing the burnt bulbs before using them.
- It is not advisable to plug in more than three (3) connected sets of Christmas lights into one electric outlet.
- Do not overload electrical outlets since it can start a fire.
- Do not leave Christmas lights turned on overnight.
- Using nails, thumbtacks, and wire staples when hanging Christmas lights may damage its parts and create fire hazards. Instead, use light hangers that are available in hardware and stores.
- Read carefully the instructions on the packaging and/or the manuals of Christmas lights provided by the manufacturer.
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