Lanterns made by inmates light up Ligao City’s giant Christmas tree

By Rhaydz Barcia

LIGAO CITY -- A 54-foot Christmas tree adorned with blue lanterns made by inmates of Ligao City Jail was lighted on Sunday night as a symbol of unity and solidarity, following the blessing of the Nativity display made by Msgr. Ramon Tronquid, parish priest of St. Stephen Parish here.

Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua and Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando Gonzalez lighted the tree situated between the parish church and the city’s colorful plaza with the flip of a switch.

“We are keeping the tradition of spreading holiday cheer to thousands of spectators from villages and nearby towns for 22 years now. This tradition is done for unity and solidarity,” the mayor said.

She said that the city government asked the inmates to make the lanterns that now adorn the giant Christmas tree as well as the city plaza and St. Stephen Church, to provide livelihood to them.

Aside from the giant Christmas tree here, also lighted up was the Walt Disney’s Cinderella wonderland-themed Yuletide display at the city plaza.

Blue and green LED light bulbs were switched on, making the night bright and cheery, to the delight of people from all walks of life who flocked to the area.

Rep. Gonzalez said that the lighting up of the giant Christmas tree has now become a tradition that inspires unity, love, merrymaking and creating economic activities to the people specifically to local farmers selling their products in the city.

Last year, Mayor Alsua chose Disney’s Frozen character with white and green motif for purity, safety, cleanliness, understanding, peace and abundance.

Former mayor Linda Gonzalez of this city, who pioneered the Christmas tradition of putting up the giant tree and Yuletide display, said: “We made this tradition for unity and solidarity and so as promote tourism. Farmers can bring their products in the city for our agricultural promotion and enjoy the lighting event.”

Mayor Alsua also said the city government is celebrating Christmas with peace, purity and prosperity throughout the year despite having hit by natural calamities.

“Last year, typhoon Nina hit us on Christmas Day but we rose up after the calamity as resilient community,” she said.

Rep. Gonzalez said that Bicol has experienced so many typhoons but was able to stand up all over again and became more developed after the disasters.

Gracing Sunday’s lighting events were members of the Women’s Club of Ligao City headed by former Mayor Linda Gonzalez and church officials. (PNA)