Are you done decorating your homes this Christmas season? Or are you still looking for the perfect set of decors that would suit your chosen theme for this year?

We only have a few weeks left before the most wonderful day of the year, so what are you still waiting for?

Come and visit the heart and the lone city of the province of La Union where you can surely find whatever Christmas decors you might be looking for.

Christmas lights? Christmas wreaths? Christmas balls? Christmas trees? Garlands? Lanterns? From the classic designs to the modern ones? Name it and they have it.

In those stalls forming a circle at the children’s park of the city are the members of the Handicraft Association of San Fernando which offer all sorts of said items.

Top photo: John Martinez, current head of the Handicraft Association of San Fernando City is also a member of this league of local artists cum entrepreneur for about 12 long years. (JAL, PIA)

This association is a group of local artists cum entrepreneurs that mainly creates handcrafted Christmas decorations and gift items. They were founded some time in 1999, starting only with locals from a barangay called Ilocanos Norte before it was established among the cityhood.

At present, they have 56 members of which 18 are currently the active ones who own their spots in the trade area.

According to John Martinez, president of the league: “Taon-taon talaga kaming nagtitinda ng decorations at gift items. Lumilipat-lipat lang kami ng pwesto depende sa ibibigay ng city government sa amin na location. At masayang-masaya kami ngayon dahil kahit pandemic ay narito kami pa din kami.”

And when asked what motivates them to continue this annual routine even amidst pandemic, John only smiled as he looked away.

Later then he said, “Alam kasi natin na may mga tao talaga, marami diyan, na ang kasiyahan ay ang paglalagay at pag-aayos ng mga dekrasyon sa kanilang mga tahanan tuwing Pasko. Kami man ay napamahal na sa ganitong gawain.”

“Makita lang namin na may mga bumista rito, maski bumili man o hindi yung iba ay natutuwa na ang aming mga puso,” he added.

Further, Emma Ducusin, one of the pioneer members of the association, merrily showed our team the different decorations they got.

From the classic designs of lanterns that would make you feel nostalgic with the good old days of 10 years ago or so, to the new sets of that ‘in trend’ styles.

But aside from their own-produced, they also sell imported products from other provinces like the popularly known Capiz lantern.

Emma shared, “Dalaga pa lang ako ito na yung ginagawa ko, nasa ganitong negosyo na ako.”

Emma Ducusin, one of the pioneer members of the Handicraft Association of San Fernando City, shares some of her hand-crafted products like the well-knotted ribbons which consumers may avail for as low as Php10.00 and those nicely arranged wreaths which are sold at varying prices. (Caren Grace Cabanayan, PIA)

Now at 43, she now does the business with her husband and their teenager.

“Kaya sa tagal kong ginagawa ‘to, para bang hindi na rin kumpleto ang pasko kapag hindi ako nakakagawa at nakakabenta ng mga parol at iba pang decorations,” she said when asked with the same thing on what motivates her to continue amid threats of the pandemic.

In this war against the deadly virus, there is this one thing which seems to have won the battle – it is the undying spirit of Christmas.

Through the years, it had always prevailed. And this year, as it may be one of the most challenging in history, is not an exemption.

With this, it is Christmas as usual in the heart of La Union.

What does the Filipino Christmas carole says, “May tatalo pa ba sa Pasko ng Pinas?” (Caren Grace Cabanayan, PIA La Union)