The Accidental Glass Coaster | Canon 550D

You never know what to expect when you’re working with resin. Even if you strictly follow the instructions, sometimes external factors affect your output. Case in point: floral bangles. I tried to work with dried flowers and turn them into bangles, but I ended up with a bigger, and much more colorful coaster from my Alma Mater.

Doubtful | Canon 550D

Marley is definitely not impressed with the output. Well, so was I but it was so hard to pop out the coaster. I think I spent the whole morning using up most of my upper body strength but to no avail.

Anticipation | Canon 550D

Of course when things don’t work out, it’s best to proceed to the next task so off I went to the next item on my to-do list: production for Eco Choices. After hours in the work shop, I managed to finish a new set of accessories! I’ll post it tomorrow so stay tuned!

Downward Dog | Canon 550D

When I finished production, I went outside to shoot. That’s Mordred, our Aspin, trying not to fall asleep during yoga.

Bloom Forever | Canon 550D 

In case you want to know what happened to the coaster, ta-da! 🙂

Sneak Peek

An Experiment| Asus Zenfone

You work on an item for days with an image of the possible output in your head.

Once the output is finished, you realize it can be something else.

Behold, Eco Choices‘ first collaboration with a fellow entrepreneur here in Cotabato City.

I’ll officially “launch” this soon. Stay tuned. 😉


Possibilities | Canon 550D 


Add a chain and it becomes a necklace. Add a jump ring and it becomes a bracelet accent. Add a hook and it becomes an earring. Add wire, bend, and it becomes a ring.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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





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.

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.

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.

Aliya Collection
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.

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.

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.

Workshops at the Garden : Soil Painting

I never thought it would be possible to paint with soil until I experienced it during the first I.Matter Sinag Creative Expressions Camp. I remember feeling like I was being healed, as each brush danced on the canvas. I wouldn’t have learned how to do it if it wasn’t for the Talaandig boys. They were there to guide and they weren’t strict when it came to the structure. They didn’t force the elements to come together. As I shared with them my apprehensions about messing up, they comforted me by saying “forget about the structure, it’s all in your mind.. go with the flow and everything will follow”.

Since the first camp, we made it a point to include the soil painting workshop in almost all of the activities of the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. Wanting to share the knowledge to the children and young people in Cotabato City, we organized a soil painting workshop for them (with permission from the Talaandig boys, of course). The workshop was held last May 3-5, facilitated by James Ryan Buenacosa. We had six kids, all excited to learn how to paint with soil.

First, they were taught how to shade. James prepared a sun painting for the kids to finish. They watched eagerly as James showed them how to shade and emphasize the light and dark sides of the painting so it doesn’t look flat.

Siblings Kevin and Angel learn how to shade.

When they were done, James showed them how to look for soil that they can use in painting. The kids quickly grabbed their tools and went around the garden to look for soil. With James’ permission, the kids started digging.

Excited to start painting, Angel and Iya fill their plastic cups with soil.

Once the kids were finished digging, James showed them how to properly mix soil, glue, and water. The ratio between the three elements determined the darkness or lightness of the colors so the kids paid close attention.

With close supervision from James, Ayi pours some glue in the cup.

When they were finished mixing the soil with water and glue, the kids quickly went to their spots in the garden and started painting. Some already had an idea of what they wanted to paint while some asked their classmates for suggestions. I remember telling them what the Talaanding boys told me once: “just go with the flow!”


The kids were all smiles when they finished their paintings. Some painted flowers, some painted animals, some had abstract paintings, and one painted the mascot of a fast food chain. The kids were happy to see their paintings on display when they arrived the next day. It felt like their works were in an exhibit, according to some of them.


Seeing their works on display made them even more excited to start working on their second painting but since James wanted the workshop to be memorable, they played some games first.

Spreading the “break clap” virus one workshop at a time.

While the kids were thinking of what to paint for Day 2, James suggested that they paint something for Mother’s Day. Some of the kids agreed that it would be nice to give their paintings as gifts to their moms. Here’s a picture of Iya painting something for her mom:


We had a great time sharing the knowledge to the kids. The garden was filled with laughter and creative energies for a good two days. The kids learned from us as much as we learned from them. It will be very hard to forget how their eyes sparkled when we told them that they can bring their paintings home (plus two more blank canvases for them to paint on). The good thing about soil painting is one need not buy expensive materials to paint. All you need is cloth to paint on, brush (or your fingers if it’s not available), and soil. To the kids who joined the soil workshop last May, thank you for sharing your talents with us. Until the next workshop!


Need a Hero?

No, you don’t need to look up in the sky to see Superman because he’s not there. He’s busy lifting a car from the ground in a house somewhere in Davao City. Indeed he is more than a bird, a plane, and a pretty face inside the train- he’s a beautiful sculpture made from wire and petroleum clay.

Superman by Harold Soriaga

Who made this, you ask? His name is Harold Soriaga. He is a loving husband to his wife, Tita Jolla, and a very good father to his two sons. My mom and I paid them a visit last month because my mom wanted to show me the “super sculptures”. I’ve been meaning to see them too since I’m also into molding and sculpting clay. Their house is very simple- it has a garden with just enough play room for the two boys, a nice view (which I had to mentally capture), and art displayed in almost all corners of the house.  Tita Jolla is very good in sketching while Tito Harold is very good in sculpting which is quite a perfect match, don’t you think so? Anyway, I wish I could go on and give you more details about their house but I got distracted. You see, these were on display:

All these and more by Harold Soriaga

So. Yeah. From afar, they look like toys but when you look closely, you’ll see that they’re sculptures made from petroleum and water-based clay. All of the details are present- weapons, accents on their costumes, soles of their shoes, even their teeth! I’ve been sculpting for quite some time now so I know how tedious the process is. It’s really impressive! Check out the details on Spiderman:

Spiderman by Harold Soriaga

In case you’re wondering, the lines are from electrical tape cut into uber thin strips and the dots were placed one by one using a mechanical pencil. I remember Tito Harold telling me that he doesn’t want his sculptures to look like the toys that you see in department stores. As much as possible, he wants each figure to be unique so he watches movies and reads comic books to look for signature moves or poses that he can use. Some of his sculptures have detachable helmets, capes, wings and weapons (see Thor’s picture below).

Banshee by Harold Soriaga
Namor the Sub-Mariner by Harold Soriaga
The Green Lantern by Harold Soriaga
Wolverine by Harold Soriaga
Thor by Harold Soriaga

Remember when I said that he looks for inspiration from movies and comic books? The battle between Batman and Bane (below) is an example. Normally you would expect someone to stop once Batman’s final details are put but not Tito Harold. I think he wanted to add life to the molded Dark Knight so he included Bane.

Batman vs Bane by Harold Soriaga

It’s impressive how someone who graduated from a highly technical course(Mechanical Engineering) is capable of producing very detailed sculptures of our favorite superheroes (and villains). It takes a certain kind of skill to mold the blocks of clay into the crime fighters we looked up to while growing up. Tito Harold started sculpting in 2005 using plaster of Paris. According to this article, he was in the United States for his post-graduate studies when he felt that he wanted to collect sculptures of his favorite superheroes after seeing them on display. Since each sculpture cost Php 10,000, he decided to make them instead. Each sculpture takes three months (or more) to finish since he only works on them when he has free time. To date, he has 50+ sculptures in his collection, all made by him. 

I know that with all the violence going on in our country, we’re secretly wishing that these superheroes existed. A lot of us are feeling hopeless and I understand why. I know it sounds cliche, but I want to remind everyone that we don’t need to be superhuman to do something about our country’s situation. There’s a superhero living in each and everyone of us; we just need to be brave enough to take the first step. 😉

Before I forget, here’s my favorite piece:

Silver Surfer by Harold Soriaga

I’m sure you know why. 🙂

ALIYA: Soil on Canvas


The world was so cruel
It turned its back on her
She broke down and cried
Till no breath was left of her
She took out the knife
And put slits on her wrists
Then she lay there waiting to die

She believed she was worthless
And succumbed to bitterness
Gave up on the life
That she once thought was perfect
Became dark and twisted
To no one, she listened
Her spirit, none could uplift

Saw life sucked out of her
HE sent down HIS angels
To come save the girl
Who once tried to commit suicide

Now she’s all bright and shiny
She glows with such beauty
The LORD filled with mercy
Saved her from misery
She plays the guitar now and sings:

I was saved from the hell I’ve been through

And was changed by a love that I never knew

Now I sing with a smile that rejoices

And a heart that was saved by grace.

 This is a song I wrote last September 17, 2008. The painting, last September 1, 2012. 🙂