DAGUPAN CITY — Mayor Belen Fernandez told her constituents that if they see simple and unlighted lanterns hanging in every lamp post here, they should bear in mind that each one of these has a poignant story to tell that could even break their heart.
It is because these lanterns were handcrafted by drug surrenderers in Barangay Tebeng weeks before Christmas in the hope of selling these to the public for them to make a living for their respective families and no longer allow themselves to be used by a syndicate to sell drugs.
“It is our way of helping our drug surrenderers turn a new leaf. It is one way to teach them to make hard earned money honestly, out of their own sweat,” said Fernandez.
Tebeng village chief Helen Fermill, with the help of the local police, they gathered all the drug surrenderers who were asked what they preferred to do to earn a living during the Yuletide Season.
All wanted to make lanterns but the drawback, said Fermill, is that the surrenderers lacked skills to do it.
She asked Mayor Fernandez if the city could help and right away, the mayor called a trainor to teach the drug surrenderers how make lanterns from locally-available indigenous materials.
Fernandez vowed to find buyers for these lanterns. She initially ordered 400 of these to adorn lamp posts along the city streets this Christmas.
“As a matter of fact, we are not only buying locally-made lanterns from our surrenderers but we are also recycling the Christmas decors we used in last year’s Christmas and the previous in order to save money,” Fernandez said.
The mayor said since she took over the reins of the city government in 2013, she made sure that her administration would not follow the wasteful practice of the past city administration of spending P10 million alone for Christmas decors.
That amount of P10 million can be rather used instead in constructing several schools buildings for school children or roads and other infrastructures, she added.
“In this project for the surrenderers, we not only made them and their families earn something for the Yuletide season but also taught them and the public some lessons in savings,” the mayor said.
In the case of the surrenderers, if you will not help them, teach them what to do, not buying their products, you are not giving them any hope and not giving them strength to move on,” she added.
“This to me is the best essence of Christmas,” Fernandez said, predicting that these drug surrenderers will make lantern making an industry in their village soon. Leonardo Micua/PNA-northboundasia.com