Bottle of Dreams

Since last month, I’ve had several attempts to write this blog entry but I’d always end up clicking the “move to trash” link that’s just a hover away from this box. I don’t know if it’s writer’s block or lack of inspiration, but it seems like whenever I plan out my blog entries, I lose the words to give my entries justice. When something beautiful and meaningful happens in your life you want to share those moments down to the last detail, so here goes: Eco Choices  received two awards during the Ramadhan Fair last July: runner up for best booth and 1st place for best product both in the non-food category. It came as a surprise because the exhibitors designed their booths beautifully and worked hard on their products! I remember shaking during the presentation because aside from being sick, it felt like I was defending my thesis. I totally forgot about preparing for the Q&A portion since I was too focused on the product’s design.

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I call my entry “Bottle of Dreams”. It’s made of  three dream catchers attached to a bigger dream catcher that hangs on top of a re-purposed wine bottle that functions as a candle holder. There are accents of handmade water hyacinth paper, abaca, and Swarovski crystals in between dream catchers.

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I was thinking of Gaza, the planes that disappeared and crashed, and the different natural disasters happening all over the world while working on the product. It made me worry about the kind of world that we’ll be passing on to our children and to our children’s children. Are we doing a great job at creating a safe space for them, or are we too focused on owning a piece of what we call “paradise”? I think that a lot of us have forgotten that our time on this planet is temporary, that we’re here to nurture and care for Mother Nature so when the time comes for us to meet our Maker, we’re sure that we’re leaving a safe space for the future generation. With everything that’s happening in the world today, one can only HOPE that good things will come.

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It is believed that dream catchers originated from the native american indians who created this to protect the sleeper from bad dreams. The dream catcher, when placed near the bed, catches the bad dreams that perish once the sun rises. The good dreams however, slip through the hole and fall on the sleeper underneath. People say that the product represents a bottle of nightmares and not dreams, but I choose to look at the bright side if things. It’s all about perspective, after all. The dream catchers are representations of our dreams and hopes for the future that, when caught, are stored inside the bottle. The light from the candle serves as a reminder to keep the fire in our hearts burning, to BELIEVE in the power of our dreams especially in moments of despair.

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One of the things I learned is that PEACE is not the absence of war. The dictionary defines peace as “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility” but I think it’s more than that. Everyday we deal with factors that challenge us – traffic, pollution, noisy neighbors, etc. You try your best to maintain that state of Zen but once you’re close to reaching it, something happens. There are also times when you find yourself in a quiet room but once you’re aware of the silence, fear comes and your mind is filled with memories and mental notes that becomes static noise. Then you think of the silence again, and you fear it again, and the cycle goes on. This is the same with our dreams. Life has this annoyingly beautiful way of setting up traps to see if we’re passionate enough in working for our dreams. Giving up is easy, but looking back with regret is difficult. You wouldn’t want to look back at your life with a long list of what ifs now, would you?

To me, the Bottle of Dreams is more than just a candle holder. It’s a reminder to work hard for our dreams no matter how tempting it is to give up.

 

Photos by: Aliya Agbon

Canon 550D

2014

 

 

Kissing the Sky

I’m back from my hiatus! Yay! If you’ve been dropping by this site and keeping yourself from sending me a pm or an email because I failed to update for the past few weeks, then I’m really sorry. My hands have been very busy with work, crafts, and the furball that at the end of the day I’m physically and mentally drained to blog. Sounds like an excuse, but it’s the truth. Still, I’m back and yes, I have an entry for you. Thanks for visiting this page, by the way. Most of the time I’m clueless about who the readers of this blog are so I just put in stories that I feel a lot of people can relate to. Since I’ve been MIA for quite some time, allow me to share with you an exciting story. I conquered my fear of heights last summer!

My jaw dropped when my mom told me that we’ll be paragliding. The immediate image that entered my head was a zip line but of course we know that’s different. We were in General Santos City and we were picked up by Titoy of Sarangani Paraglide that morning so we don’t have to worry about finding our way to the venue. After thirty minutes, we found ourselves in Maasim, Sarangani. I was still calm that time, but when Titoy showed me the mountain that we’ll be climbing for take off, the butterflies in my stomach turned into bats and I wanted to back out. I jokingly offered that I’ll take everyone’s picture instead, but then I figured, it’s going to be a sad story if I tell everyone that I went to Sarangani to back out. I admired Tita Mags and Tito Jojo who volunteered to go first. It was fun watching them and though I was still scared, seeing how easy it was for them gave me courage. I thought I was fine but as I was nearing Titoy, my tandem pilot, I was scared again! He assured me that everything will be fine and after just a few minutes of freaking out, I was ready to start. The first attempt was a failure because I ran towards the wrong direction. We had to function like planes and run fast towards the edge of the mountain and just let the glider do its thing. Titoy asked his assistant to help me because it was very hard for me to run against the direction of the wind. I was told to run without looking down and I did. Before I knew it, I was running on air! Once seated comfortably, I began to enjoy my first paragliding experience.

Paragliding4 It was nauseating at first and according to Titoy, it’s because it’s my first time. I screamed to release the fear that I was feeling while forgetting that everything was captured by the GoPro. We went high, we went low, and the view was breathtaking.

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Photo by Mags Maglana

Photo by Mags Maglana

 

The ride lasted for an epic ten minutes. I think for the remaining the nine minutes I forgot about my acrophobia. I was too busy looking for nice GoPro angles to make sure that everything is captured on video and having Titoy answer my questions about paragliding. I was a bit sad when I was told that we’ll be landing in a few minutes, but I did raise my fist in the air when I saw my mom, Tita Mags, and Tito Jojo.

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My not-so-smooth landing

My not-so-smooth landing

A different kind of stoke. :)

A different kind of stoke. :)

It felt great to face my fears and experience a different kind of stoke. I guess sometimes we focus way too much on exaggerating our fears when in reality, it’s just a matter of letting things flow. Though it’s tempting to chicken out once fear rises, it’s still best to be brave and conquer our fears. Except for snakes, that’s a different story. :)

There are two fly sites in the Philippines: Cavite and Sarangani. The flying season in Cavite is from November to April while in Sarangani, it’s the whole year round. It’s important to come early to make the most out of the experience. As surfers wait for the perfect wave conditions, paragliders wait for the perfect wind condition to make sure that the wing will fly properly. They are certified tandem pilots and they want to make sure that their passengers are safe while enjoying the experience.

Some tips for those who want to try paragliding:

1) Wake up early and make sure you just the right amount of food for breakfast. It is not recommended that you fly full because you might vomit.

2) Use sunblock.

3) Wear comfy clothes and rubber shoes.

4) Wear shades.

5) Listen to your pilot, they know best.

6) Make sure that the GoPro captures everything!

7) Let all fears go and have fun!

 

You can contact Sarangani Paragliders at 09228071961 or 09333736871. You can email them at saranganiparaglide@hotmail.com or visit their website at http://www.saranganiparaglide.com. For updates, like them on Facebook.

 

Marley Diaries Chapter 1

I’m used to having dogs around the house but I’ve never experienced looking after any one of them. Sure there’s the occasional tap on the head and food games but that’s it. When one of our dogs would give birth I’d claim one of the puppies as mine, and then forget about it after a few months or so. I guess this is the reason why I don’t really have an attachment with any of our dogs nor do I know how to raise or train one. These are just some of the realizations I had after five days of looking after a beagle named Marley.

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Taking care of a puppy is like taking care of a baby. I don’t know if I made a mistake by making that comparison but to me, that’s what it seems like. Since this furball came, I had to wake up at 5 AM for potty and play time. If I miss, I have to listen to him howl. When I’m lucky, he goes back to bed but when I’m not, he chooses to play for two hours so I’m a zombie tossing the ball, running, and praising him. 7 AM means breakfast and that means dealing with scratches on my legs while preparing his food. After breakfast, he goes back to bed and I’m the happiest person on earth because I get to enjoy five hours of silence. 12 means lunch and the scratches are back but that’s okay because I get my five hours of silence again after. 5 PM he eats dinner and sleeps until the end of The Legal Wife. My hell begins. He runs around and howls if I don’t give him what he wants while I pray that he gets tired soon. I treat times that I have to do errands as my “break” from having to chase him around and look after him, but when I go home I always look forward to seeing his wagging tail. This furball gives the best hugs and kisses and as I indulge in his tight fur embrace, I forget about the challenges of being his “human mom”.

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My life and web browser tabs have changed since this furball came. I’m now programmed to do handicrafts while taking care of him and doing research on designs, marketing, accounting, and beagle training on the side.

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It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions with this furball. He’s made me cry for countless times but it’s hard to hate when he rests his head on your lap as the tears flow. It’s his way of saying sorry, I guess. I’m trying my best to be a good playmate and though I struggle at times, I can say I’m learning.

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It sounds like I’m complaining but I’m not. Well, I do hate the wrong timing of my pneumonia because it makes breathing harder and it makes me hate having to deal with the whining at 11 PM when my lungs need to rest but once I see him sleep all I can do is heave a sigh of relief, smile and thank the heavens for giving me such an adorable beagle.

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We have a long way to go, Marley and I. Exhaustion and lung pains aside, I’m having  a great time. :)

Choose or Be Chosen

I’m starting this entry with a big lump in my throat. I’m holding back tears because it’s weird (and difficult) to type and cry at the same time.  I’m browsing through my journal and the very few photos I managed to take during the Nonviolent Interfaith Leadership Program in Melbourne, Australia and I’m feeling a roller coaster of emotions. It’s a good thing I paid attention to Efrat’s sessions where we were taught to observe emotions and greet it as it enters our “guest house”.

I’ve been meaning to write about my NILP experience but I always ended up staring at the big white space on the computer screen. It’s a tough entry to start because how do you compress five day’s worth of learnings, and epic moments with people from different parts of the globe? It’s challenging but since I feel like it’s a story that needs to be shared to whoever’s patient enough to visit my page and read my entry, here goes:

At a room  with brick walls, high ceilings, carpeted floors and big windows in Edmund Rice Retreat House is where I met people who will forever be a part of me.  These are strangers turned friends who managed to break down the walls I built and see a deep part of my soul. These are people from different parts of the world who treated me like family even if it was their first time to meet me. These are people who experienced what I experienced during the Nonviolent Interfaith Leadership Program 2014 organized by Pace e Bene Australia.

A threshold of stories, self discoveries, and God-given gifts. This room was our shared space for five days.

A threshold of stories, self discoveries, and God-given gifts. This room was our shared space for five days.

On the first day, we were welcomed through a ceremony where we touched soil that ancestors from thousands of years ago walked on. The soil was warm underneath my ice cold palm. We then faced the Yarra River with palms facing the clouds and breathed in the cold Melbourne air. We didn’t talk much and I liked it. At that moment, I realized how blessed all of us are that our ancestors from thousands of years ago took good care of the land. I hope we do the same for the future generation.

After the simple but meaningful ceremony, we made our way back to the room and sat on the chairs that were formed in a circle. To break the ice, Ann invited us to pass around a ball of yarn while saying each other’s name and country. We held the yarn until the last person introduced himself and by then, we had already formed a web. We placed the yarn on the floor and it stayed there until someone decided to untangle it again and form a ball.

To know more about each other, we were then asked to share with two or three others the origin of our name, people who inspire us, places that inspire us, and our experiences. I was surprised at how much one can share just by talking about the name! It was a very powerful exercise.

Interconnection.

Interconnection.

We lit each candle after each sharing to invite the spirits of our ancestors, inspirators, places, and experiences. I like how it also made us feel that there were more than thirty of us in the room, but not in a creepy way. It kind of gave me the assurance that I may be physically alone, but I have a battalion with me ready to back me up no matter what.

Sessions on nonviolence and self discovery started the next day. There were invitations to do the Labyrinth at 6:30 in the morning but I decided to sleep in since I haven’t had enough sleep yet. Add to that the fact that Australia is two hours ahead so 6:30 AM to them is 4:30 AM to us in the Philippines. We started the session with shared silence and this made me realize how scared I am of it. I hate not hearing anything because my very visual mind wanders off to scenes from horror movies that freak me out even in broad daylight. I also noticed how noisy the mind can be despite the lack of noise around us. After twenty minutes of silence, and a couple more minutes for “check in” we went on with our session. I won’t share the discussions so I won’t spoil anything, just in case you decide to join the program.

We were given plenty of quiet time in between sessions. These were minutes (sometimes hours) that I valued because it gave me the chance to process the discussions. I like listening, but I also like writing the things that I heard to help me process and digest them. There were also times when we’d find ourselves working on the rice mandala, talking to whoever was also there while adding designs. We had plenty of tea time, too. There was morning tea, afternoon tea, and evening tea. I’m not a tea drinker, but I became one. Yay.

Silence.

Silence.

A little bit of everything. These grains of rice hold stories shared by some of us.

A little bit of everything. These grains of rice hold stories shared by some of us.

On the third day, Baqir, Vila, and I went down to the Yarra River to take pictures. Yes, at 6 in the morning. In Australia. In case you’re wondering, it was VERY cold. It was also drizzling. We were hoping for some fog and sun, but all we had was rain. We still went down the river, stopped after a few steps to take pictures, laughed at each other for being silly enough to walk under the rain, and shared stories in between shutter clicks.

Good morning.

Good morning.

The Yarra River.

The Yarra River.

Impermanence.

Impermanence.

We had different night activities. The first night was spent listening to the stories of Efrat and Bagir who both experienced violence but reacted nonviolently. It’s amazing how people who went through a lot are always the ones with the biggest smiles that radiate positive energy. The second night was spent watching short films. The third night, for me was the most intimate and meaningful. It’s a night that I will never forget for as long as I live. The fourth night was just as meaningful because we shared a piece of ourselves to the group. Some wrote poems, some shared jokes, and some shared films that they made. I shared with them “Aliya” – a song I wrote back in 2006. It was the first time that I shared the song with a group of people and it was nerve wrecking.

On the last day, we learned about open space and how it can make a difference in one’s way of thinking. It allows you to open yourself up to the possibilities, and accept them as they come. At around noon, it was obvious how people were avoiding the fact that the program was nearing its end. At around three in the afternoon, we gathered in the circle again to close the program.

Closing.

Closing.

Going to Melbourne to attend NILP 2014 was a big step for me. I’m not exactly open to the idea of travelling to another country alone because that means stepping outside my comfort zone. The thought of having to talk to people who don’t speak my language freaks me out and I’m not even worried about my capacity to speak English. I’m worried about being discriminated, of having difficulty in understanding what they’re saying because of the language barrier, of getting lost, of losing my luggage (this happened, but that’s another story), of missing my plane, and of being alone. God must have wanted me to go because despite all my excuses and reasons not to go, I found myself leaving for Melbourne early last month.

Choose or be chosen. I’m glad I chose to apply, and I’m even more glad that I was chosen. NILP taught me to be brave, to accept experiences (even the bad ones) as chapters of my life’s story, and to be open to possibilities. I learned so much from my batchmates, and up until now I still hold the conversations I had with each and everyone of them in a very deep place in my heart. I’m still grateful that they created a very safe space, that made deep and soulful stories emerge. Listening without judgement. Acceptance. Love. Care. Companionship. Interconnection. Impermanence.

To be nonviolent in a world filled with violence. To love despite hate. To take courage despite fear. To take chances. To step outside the comfort zone. To understand that the world is bigger than the four walls of your room. To take a leap of faith. To be open to possibilities. To accept change. These are just some of the many things I learned during NILP.

Now, allow me to raise my hands, wave them and say, Pace Bene!

 

Surfing in La Union

In a parallel universe, I’m on a surfboard riding the best wave of my life. For now, I’ll have to satisfy my craving for long rides, wipeouts, saltwater, and sand by watching surf videos and looking at surf photos. Yes, I am surf deprived and boy oh boy I’d give anything to surf again… but it’s almost flat season so…. but there are still waves somewhere so… but I need to work on our products… but the waves are calling… but… but… ah, let me tell you about my surf experience in La Union instead.

I rode a van from Baguio to San Juan. In case you’re wondering why I came from Baguio, you can read it here. I was told to get off once I see Sebay and walk towards Fatwave Surf Resort since that’s where we’re booked. Because it was my first time there, I decided not to sleep so I won’t miss my stop. Looking back, it wasn’t hard to look for my stop at all since it was a long stretch of Surf resorts. Add to that the fact that there’s a huge sign in green and white that says “Surfing Area San Juan Beach”.

I was supposed to meet my cousin and two of our friends there but since they went to Tangadan Falls, I decided to go to our room, change clothes, rest for a while, and wait for them. They arrived a little over thirty minutes after and since they were hungry, we made our way to the dining area to grab a bite. I was very thankful that there were baby waves, contrary to what the forecast was saying. My surfer friends would always tell me that it’s always a plus or a minus that’s why I still take risks and pray to the heavens that they’ll be kind enough to give us “surfable” waves. Sometimes the prayer works and sometimes it doesn’t.  At around five in the afternoon, we grabbed our surfboards and paddled out.

Sunset surf <3

Sunset surf <3

"I'm so happpyyyyyyyyy!!!"

“I’m so happpyyyyyyyyy!!!”

With my instructor, Benito

With my instructor, Benito

Yes please :)

Yes please :)

We surfed until it was dark and it was the best feeling in the world. If there’s one thing I enjoy doing, it’s sunset surfing. You paddle out, see the sun on the horizon, wait for a wave, surf, and then paddle out again. I find peace in watching the sun paint the sky with different shades of red, blue, pink, and purple – a perfect harmony of colors before it bids the world goodbye at least for twelve hours.

The group went to Flotsam and Jetsam for dinner and we feasted on sumptuous food while lounging in cozy bean bags and listening to hits from the 90s since, coincidentally, it was Lorraine Lapus’ engagement party that night. Flotsam and Jetsam really gives you value for your money. The ambience is great, the food is excellent, and you get to meet a lot of people. Too bad I didn’t take pictures because I was too hungry. If you want to know more about them, visit this page.

With Fin, J9, and Xie.

With Fin, J9, and Xie.

We woke up early the next day for more surfing. We were singing, cheering each other on, playing with the GoPro, and enjoying rides both short and long. When it was almost 12, we went back to Fatwave to shower, change clothes, and pack our stuff. We dropped by Surfstar to claim our free shirt. Yay! That made the trip even more fun! For lunch, we went to Marv’s house. They cooked sinigang which is one of my favorite dishes. The group hung out for a while and by 4 PM, it was time to go back to Manila.

The Frolic Girls: Koko, Xie, J9, Aliya, and Fin.

The Frolic Girls: Koko, Xie, J9, Aliya, and Fin.

Surfing in La Union was a very memorable experience for me. It was great to be back on the ocean, ride the board, and paddle until my arms feel like noodles. I also met two new surfers :Marv and Benito who are funny, accommodating, and very patient. Should you wish to learn how to surf when you’re in La Union, I highly recommend that you look for them.

If you want to surf in La Union, you can contact Marven Abat to learn about their surf lifestyle packages. For now, I’ll leave you with this video. Enjoy! :)

Toast to Happiness

I love nutella. I like dipping the spoon in and enjoying that lovely jar of happiness while watching a movie, reading a book, editing photos, and the list goes on. It’s the ultimate comfort food and it adds a sweet kick to almost anything! You can spread it on top of a cookie, waffles, toast… Speaking of toast, have you been to Cafe Shibuya?

A very good friend of mine and I met up for lunch yesterday. We passed by Cafe Shibuya, looked at the menu, drooled because of the photos of the food that looked really yummy, and went to a different restaurant after mustering up the courage to walk away because I was craving for soup. After lunch, we were in the mood for dessert and my friend suggested that we go to Cafe Shibuya.

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It is a quaint cafe with a very laidback atmosphere. You can go there and hang out with your friends or if you’re more into spending time alone, you can just sit in one of the chairs and enjoy reading a book. The place is very cozy and the wooden tables and chairs remind you of home, it’s tempting to just stay there the whole day and chill.

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Indeed, there is!

Mason jar lamps. How creative!

Mason jar lamps. How creative!

Cafe Shibuya specializes in savory buttered toasts that are topped with probably a few of your favorite things. They also have Ghirardelli chocolate frappe which is both sinful and delicious. The Nutella toast was a no brainer for me. My eyes stopped scanning the page the moment I saw it on the menu. My friend, on the other  hand, ordered Mango Caramel and it was just as good. The toasts are served with vanilla ice cream which makes it all the more sinful, but who cares about gaining a few pounds (which you can shed anyway) when every bite takes you to heaven? My friend and I found ourselves smiling while munching on our toasts. The toasts are a little crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside.

Nutella Toast

Nutella Toast

Mango Caramel Toast

Mango Caramel Toast

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Nutella toast = instant good vibes. :)

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You’ll find Cafe Shibuya at the ground floor of the UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue. They’re open from 10 AM to 10 PM from Sunday to Thursday,  and 10 AM to 12 MN on Fridays and Saturdays. The meals and desserts are affordable, but if you’re on a budget you can always share the meal with a friend. To know more about Cafe Shibuya, like their Facebook page here.

***

Photos by Marikit Mateo and Aliya Agbon

All Is Swell

 

Scarf, Saizen | 'All Is Swell' Shirt, Coast Thru Life | Lace skirt, Jatujak | Leggings, Watsons | Sneakers, Converse

Glasses, SM Department Store | Scarf, Saizen | ‘All Is Swell’ Shirt, Coast Thru Life | Lace skirt, Jatujak | Leggings, Watsons | Sneakers, Converse

We rise up when we fall and when we do, we become better versions of ourselves. I believe that at some point in our lives, we hit rock bottom and when that happens, the temptation to just stay there and dwell in the negativity of the situation is hard to resist. To hate the world and blame everyone for living lives better than ours is always our go to option as humans compared to acknowledging the situation and eventually accepting it as a part of our life’s story. I used to take the easy route and just allow my emotions to get the best of  me. The younger version of me enjoyed having people care for me and look after me. It felt good for some time until I realized how weak and dependent I’ve become. I failed to live up to the meaning of my second name, ‘Aliya’.

 

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Ballers, Billabong San Juan Surf School (White) and Roxy (Pink) | Bracelets, Amihan sa Dahican | Bag, Thailand | Anklets, Amihan sa Dahican (red, green, yellow) and Jenny Tañedo

To acknowledge that you’ve hit rock bottom is one thing, and to make the decision to make your way out of the hell hole you’re in and rise up is another. I can’t remember how many times I hit a slump in my life, but I do remember receiving the biggest blow and making the decision to deal with the situation head on. People usually think that facing challenges is a piece of cake but I tell you, it’s hard work. The monster that whispers words that feed negative thoughts which eventually spiral into some twisted form of reality when you wake up at say, 3 in the morning does not help either. Most of the time, you find yourself playing a tennis match in your head where one side says all systems go, and the other makes you doubt every step you take towards picking yourself up and moving forward. It’s a feat, it’s exhausting, but trust me when I say that though the battle may be long, you’ll definitely come out strong.

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Every challenge comes with lessons that need to be learned. Yes they’re difficult, and we all have our fair share of trials that we wouldn’t wish on anyone but in retrospect, I believe these trials are life’s way of molding us into the people that we’re destined to be. You can’t go to chapter three without reading chapter one. Sure you can skip, but then the story won’t be complete. I’m not trying to sound like some hyper optimistic know-it-all. What I’m trying to say is maybe, just maybe, with a slight change of perspective it’ll be easier for us to prepare and deal with the roadblocks ahead.

***

Photography by: Wu Vila

Location: Botanic Garden, Melbourne, Australia

“All Is Swell” shirts

were designed by Carla Sebastian

as part of Coast Thru Life’s efforts to raise funds for

the survivors Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). 

Women’s Saturdate

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What happens when you gather women entrepreneurs for an exhibit, zumba session, open forum, and tutorial on makeup and hijab? Women’s Saturdate. This was held last March 15, 2014 at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex as part of the celebration for Women’s Month. Women’s Saturdate is a joint initiative of  Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kutawato City Inc. and Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women. Women entrepreneurs were invited to showcase their items in booths around the area. Some of the participants and exhibitors started the day with two hours Zumba lead by Irene Tan, a licensed Zumba instructor from General Santos City.

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Our dreamcatcher display during the event.

After the zumba session, there was an open forum where the rights of women and children were discussed.  Shari’ah Counsellor Maceda Lidasan Abo, Police Senior Inspector Jaybee Bayani, Shari’ah COunsellor Narumbai Dilangalen-Datukon, Shari’ah COunsellor Edz Pandi, Shari’ah Counsellor Indira Sinsuat, Atty. AlphaCarole Pontanal, And Ustadza Anisa Taha were there to empower the women present during the event. The discussions revolved around what women should do in different situations and who to ask help from. It was good that these things were discussed during the event because most times, women who are put in very difficult situations choose silence over standing up and asserting their rights because they feel like no one will hear their voice and no one will be there to help them. It was good to see women feeling empowered when the forum ended.

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Makeup tutorial by HERs Ikhwaat

Hijab tutorial by HERs Ikhwaat

Hijab tutorial by HERs Ikhwaat

The open forum was followed by tutorials on makeup and hijab by HERs Ikhwaat. These tutorials sparked my interest because I’ve always wanted to learn how to do makeup, and I’ve always been curious about the hijab. I see women wearing the hijab in our city but I’ve always been clueless about the different styles of wearing it. The tutorial helped me appreciate women who wear the hijab more.

Women’s Saturdate was a good venue to empower women and to encourage them to become entrepreneurs. It was also a good venue to let the younger generation appreciate the hijab. I’m really thankful that Eco Choices was invited to participate in this event :)

 

Touchdown : 14th Year Homecoming Dance Concert

When you miss dancing and you can’t squeeze in dance sessions into your busy schedule because a) you’re super busy and b) there are no studios that offer dance classes  (or the genre that you want at least) in your city, you become very thankful for opportunities that allow you to strut your stuff on the dance floor. That probably sums up why I made sure that I’ll be able to dance in Shadows Manila’s segment for Touchdown : [Shadows] 14th Year Homecoming Dance Concert held last February 28, 2014 at the University of the Philippines Baguio Auditorium. :)

We (the alumni) were very ecstatic to be in Baguio again. The place holds a lot of good memories for all of us; we even took turns in sharing stories about experiences (both happy and scary). When we arrived in Baguio, we were too excited we totally forgot about sleep. Come sunrise, we started to practice and polish our steps. Before we knew it, it was time to prepare for brunch and then rehearsals at the venue. We struggled a bit because it was hard to dance and breathe in cold air. We weren’t used to the cold Baguio air anymore. After a few repeats, however, we nailed the dances and we were good to go.

We sat in the front row because we wanted to see everything. When the concert began, we squirmed in excitement. It was like we were back to our college selves again. We cheered with every dance, and when it was our turn, we made sure that we gave our all in the performance. It was so nice to be back on the dance floor… where it all began.

It was not just a celebration of Shadows’ 14th anniversary; it was also a reunion for members who’ve been spread across the globe because of work, school, and other reasons. It was nice to see faces both old and new. Indeed, Shadows has become one big family with batch 26 as the youngest.

We left Baguio feeling energized and ready to face the tasks and responsibilities that were waiting for us in our respective cities (and countries). I guess that’s the thing about dance – it bridges gaps and brings people closer together. No matter how far we are from each other, our hearts will always beat as one. Once Shadows, always Shadows. We are more than just a dance group. We’re a family. :)

One dance. Once chance. One family. Shadows.

Dreamcatchers

I had my first dreamcatcher in 2004. I bought it as a souvenir from a thrift shop in Boracay. I was intrigued when the shop owner said that if I hang it near my bed, I won’t have bad dreams. True enough, all my dreams since then were happy and peaceful. I then started collecting. When I started studying in the University of the Philippines, Baguio, I was given access to even more dreamcatchers since these were sold along Session Road. I had dreamcatchers of different colors, shapes, and sizes and I brought them with me everywhere I went. I made sure all of them hung near my bed. As my collection grew, I had to put some of them in other locations like the door, the window, my cabinet, etc. It was always easy to identify where my room was – just follow the dreamcatchers.

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Heirs Inspired Dreamcatcher

As years went on, I noticed that I’ve been spending most of my money on dreamcatchers. This isn’t really a problem but when you’re trying to save for something more expensive like strobe lights, flash, or  a new macbook, you begin to think about the money you splurged on something else. It was then that  I decided to start making dreamcatchers. I researched and looked for tutorials online but to no avail. Turns out my mom knew how to make them and she taught me.

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Personalized Dreamcatcher

Personalized metal accent. :)

Personalized metal accent. :)

I didn’t stop making dreamcatchers ever since. I explored designs, concepts, techniques, and incorporated them with some of the dreamcatchers I made. I also did some research and the more I read, the more appreciation I had for the dreamcatchers. According to an article, these dreamcatchers originated from the Ojibwe people who used to call it a “dream snare”. The Ojibwe people used willow hoops, sinew thread, and decorated the dream snare with sacred items like beads and feathers.

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Aliya Collection

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Aliya Collection

For the Ojibwe people, the legend of the dreamcatcher comes from Asibikaashi (Spider Woman). She took good care of the children and people on the land. When the Ojibwe Nation spread all over the world, it became very difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all of the children. Because of this, the mothers and the grandmothers weaved dreamcatchers- webs of magic using  willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants for the children. It was believed that the dreamcatchers filtered out all of the bad dreams and allowed only the good dreams. These dreamcatchers served as protective charms and were hung on the hoop of a cradle board and it was said that “they caught any harm that might be in the air as a spider’s web catches and holds whatever comes in contact with it” (Frances Densmore, Chippewa Customs).

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

According to another article, the Ojibwe people believe that dreamcatchers can change a person’s dream. Good dreams pass through the hole and slide down the feathers to the sleeping person underneath. The bad dreams, on the other hand, get caught in the net and disappear with the light of day.

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The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Lakota people from the Great Plains of North America have a different story about the dreamcatcher. When the world was still very peaceful, an old Lakota spiritual leader had a vision while staying on a high mountain. In that vision the great searcher of wisdom, Iktomi, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him about the cycle of life – how we begin our lives as infants and then move on through childhood and adulthood. Then we move further into old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. All these Iktomi said while spinning a web on a willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads, and offerings on it. However, according to Iktomi, life has many forces both good and bad. The good forces, if you listen to them, will steer you in the right direction while the bad forces will steer you in the wrong direction. Whatever decision is made through these forces can either help or interfere with the harmony of Nature. When Iktomi was finished, he gave the web to the spiritual leader. It was a perfect circle with a hole in the center. The web can be used to help people reach their goals, while making use of their dreams, ideas, and visions. The spiritual leader passed on this vision to the people. The good dreams pass through the hole while the evil in their dreams are captured in the web. The Lakota people believe that the dreamcatcher holds their destiny.

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The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The dreamcatcher has been a part of Native American culture for centuries. One element of Native American dreamcatcher relates to the tradition of the hoop. The Native Americans of North America held the hoop in the highest esteem because for them, it symbolizes strength and unity. The hoop also represents the sun, moon, and month that travel each day across the sky. These are known as the giizis. The number of points on the dreamcatcher also differ in meaning: 13 points mean the phases of the moon, 8 points represent the legs on the spider woman of the dreamcatcher legend, 7 points represent the seven prophecies of the grandfathers, 6 points mean courage, and 5 points represent the star. The feathers mean breath or air which is essential for life. An owl feather, which was a woman’s feather, means wisdom.

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The dreamcatcher legend has many variations. Although the Ojibwe people are acknowledged as the first people to use dreamcatchers, many other tribes and native people have also adopted dreamcatchers into their culture. Despite differences in stories and legends, the symbols and meanings are universal and are carried all over the world.

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

The Bonita Collection : Crochet x Swarovski x Precious Stones

It’s always good to read and know more about the products that we make in order to help other people understand and appreciate these items. The dreamcatchers in this post are available at Eco Choices.