In Manila's Dapitan district, Christmas is already in the air.
Tucked in one of its business hubs is a web of streets and alleys lined with stalls and bazaars selling Christmas trees, mechanical Santas, miniature scenes of the Nativity, and an array of twinkling lights and lanterns.
This part of Dapitan is bargain central in Manila. Prices here are at near rock bottom, and are a lure even for wholesalers.
But while the merchandise is already on full display, buyers have yet to come in droves.
"They're still afraid. Most don't even have a way to get here, unless they have their own cars," said Mr Randy de la Cruz, 29, who owns a roadside stall selling Santa statues.
Christmas will eventually come, he said, "but it will not be the same as before".
In the Philippines, September marks the start of the Christmas season, earlier than in most other countries. But this is a religious holiday which holds a special place in the hearts of the people in this devoutly Catholic nation.
"Filipinos are a very sociable and giving people, and Christmas has always been very significant in our Catholic country," said Mr Steven Tan, president of SM Supermalls.
In normal times, bargain hunters start flocking to places like Dapitan as early as September. By November and December, shoppers, flush with cash, would start filling the malls. As Christmas draws near, a daily commute lasting four hours is the norm.
But these are not normal times.
With a lethal virus still spreading and many quarantine restrictions still in place, millions remain cooped up inside their homes.
For the over three million people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, the last thing on their mind is buying a wind-up Santa climbing up and down a chain rope.
Mr de la Cruz said Dapitan would usually be packed with buyers of Christmas decorations at around this time. But lately, only online resellers are turning up. "They will take pictures of our merchandise, and then post those on Facebook. Once they have buyers, that's the only time they buy," he said.
Some are even live streaming while they hop from one stall to another, and negotiating in real time with their customers, he added.
Mr de la Cruz said he used to make as much as 40,000 pesos (S$1,125) a day. These days, he's lucky if he makes 4,000 pesos. "There are some days when I don't sell anything at all," he said.
But there are signs the Christmas spirit among Filipinos is beginning to stir. Shoppers are again making their presence felt in the sprawling wings of the SM Mall of Asia, which is the size of 100 football fields.
It is not a mad rush, however. Most are heading to the home and appliances section at the department store. There, they buy essential goods and take advantage of discounts on almost all items. One shopper said he managed to snag two small wall mirrors for just 250 pesos.
A store clerk said the bestsellers at the appliance area are ovens. "I think they use it for their online food businesses," she said.
Some are also already buying Christmas decorations. "We sold four Christmas trees the other day," said another clerk.
A bike shop is also raking it in, but restaurants are still struggling.
"We believe sales will pick up, even if foot traffic may not be as robust as in previous years," said SM Supermalls' Mr Tan.
A Facebook survey on consumer behaviour said Filipinos would likely be buying gifts for themselves for Christmas.
Mr John Rubio, Facebook Philippines' country director, told reporters: "We've all been stressed, so people will buy something nice for themselves in the next couple of months… People have been delaying (buying) clothes, electronics, the new smartphone they want to get, the new appliance they want for their kitchen."
Ms Ella Salvacion, 46, who works at a US-based outsourcing firm, said she is planning to get herself a petrol-powered scooter for Christmas so she can move around more.
She said she is lucky enough to have kept her job, and is looking forward to her 13th-month pay. Since she started working from home, she has managed to trim her expenses.
"We're just buying food now. We haven't been buying new shoes and clothes. Most of our extra expenses now are for masks and face shields," she said.
But she is still not keen on going to the mall.
"It's still risky to go out, even though they're saying they've already flattened the curve… I'll probably have a look. But if the mall's packed with people, I'll probably just head back home," she said.
Some, like Ms Luz Santiago, 53, are keeping to tradition - she was in Dapitan to buy Christmas lanterns.
"It's never too early for Christmas," she said.
Ms Santiago, who has yet to secure a job after her return from a nursing stint in Spain, said her family's finances are not in the best shape.
"We're also on a tight budget. But we need this. Covid or not, we need Christmas. We're Filipinos. We're survivors," she said.