Eco Choices: Water Hyacinth Keychain

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Water Hyacinth Keychain | Canon 550D

This is one of the mini projects I’ve been working on for weeks. We’ve received a lot of requests to produce water hyacinth keychains but since we were very busy, I never had the time to sit down and work on design concepts and prototypes. Finally, after a lot of edits, we can finally launch these handcrafted Water Hyacinth Keychains.

Made with water hyacinth paper, brass plated metal, and semi-precious stones. You can use these to accessorize your bags and wallets. It can also be an instant necklace once you add a chain.

Each piece is unique. No two pieces are the same. Available at Eco Choices

Sneak Peek

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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. 😉

What’s New?

Happy 2014, dear readers! May this year bring you happiness, love, light, beautiful sunsets, and epic wave rides!

2014 is a very exciting year for us at Eco Choices because we have new products in store for you! If you’re a GIGA user but you’re having a hard time because the products are not available in Cotabato, fear no more because they’re now available at the store! GIGA Products are made from local plant-derived ingredients. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of ingredients found in GIGA products are plant based (Natural) and ninety per cent (90%) are locally-sourced in the Philippines. In fact, they pioneered the use of virgin coconut oil in our country.

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The GIGA baby cold rub is a gentle and safe rub intended relieve babies from discomfort caused by colds and cough. The GIGA baby balm is perfect for relieving baby’s skin from breakouts and diaper rashes while the baby cologne is specially formulated to leave baby’s skin feeling and smelling fresh all day.
Trying to get rid of the holiday weight? Then this product is perfect for you! This easy to use oil has seaweed extract for metabolic stimulation and nutrient rich algae to hydrate and detoxify. No shower needed!
Trying to get rid of the holiday weight? Then this product is perfect for you! This easy to use oil has seaweed extract for metabolic stimulation and nutrient rich algae to hydrate and detoxify. No shower needed!
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Nothing beats taking a long bath after a stressful day. These aromatherapy soaps will not only moisturize your skin; they will also put you in the right mood after your bath.
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Virgin Coconut Oil increases metabolism, helps lose weight, boosts energy levels, reduces risk of heart disease, has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. When applied topically, rejuvenates skin and contains natural UV protection and prevents wrinkles.

These are just some of the many GIGA products that are available at the store. If you want to know what the other products are, or if you already saw something that you want to purchase, come and visit us at the address I’ll be posting at the end of this blog. 🙂

When I assumed the managerial position last year, I took it upon myself to do research and read up on designs and ideas that we can use for the store. Early this year, was able to produce water hyacinth covered notebooks with a stamped metal accent.

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It has 50 ruled pages ready to be written on! It’s available in violet, pink, blue, and brown ( the natural color of water hyacinth). Here’s a tight shot of the notebook with the metal accent:

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Cool, right? Another item I designed is the sinag notepad. Sinag started two years ago when the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. organized the Sinag Creative Expressions Camp with the young Sendong survivors in Cagayan De Oro City. During the first anniversary of Sendong, we went back to Cagayan to install the sun mosaic in Balulang Elementary School. The sun mosaic has been the symbol of Sinag since then. I like how it reminds all of us to always be happy and positive despite the bad things that are happening around us.

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The sinag notepad has blank unruled pages so if you want to doodle or write random things (something I do often), then this is for you. It also fits in your pocket, so yey!

This last product is for those who are missing their weekly dose of Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) and Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye). We’ve been making dreamcatchers since 2010 and I was really surprised when the demand for dreamcatchers increased all of a sudden late last year. Everything made sense when I started watching  the Heirs, a romantic comedy series that aired in Korea last October 2013. Guilty of missing the show (I had to watch it several times before finally watching the last episode), I made this Heirs inspired dreamcatcher. I did my best to make it look exactly like the one on the show. It has suede leather, crochet thread, capiz shells, feathers, and Swarovski crystals.

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“It’s a dreamcatcher. It’s supposed to catch bad dreams. Only pretty dreams come through the hole” – Cha Eun Sang, Heirs

To order, call/text 09983755888 or visit us at 18 Javier St. cor. Rosal, Rosary Heights, Cotabato City. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/EcoChoicesPh.

Secrets

We all have secrets. Some secrets, we choose to bury deep within us because although it’s fun to share every snippet of our lives with others, there are still things that we want to be selfish about and these we keep to ourselves. Some secrets we share to a small group of people who we consider as family. Some secrets are only secrets at present, revealed one, two, three or more years later.

There are secrets behind the dresses I’m wearing in this post and since I’m feeling a little generous today, I’m sharing them with you.

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Dress, Crossings | Shawl – turned – skirt, Joey Rodriguez | Makeup and photography by Adele Katerina Raya

If the skirt looks familiar, it’s because I used it for this post.  I bought the dress for a formal event last year from the department store. I’m not really into designer dresses and I had no plans of spending thousands on a dress that I’ll only be able to wear twice or thrice a year so I chose a simple dress that can be worn on any occasion with a few tweaks here and there. This dress originally had a black lace skirt that dropped five inches above my knee. Since I was going to a formal event, I decided to make the dress look more elegant by attaching the shawl that I used for my third year prom and making it look like it’s originally part of the dress. Inside the dress are more or less fifty safety pins securing the shawl to the dress. This is secret number one.

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Violet top, Adele’s | Skirt, Joey Rodriguez, Makeup and photography by Adele Katerina Raya

The skirt is part of the gown I wore for my third year prom. This is secret number two. I guess when you own something that you invested on not only financially but also emotionally, you’d want to keep on using it to make the most out of it. It’s like holding on to a jar that releases happy memories whenever opened. This gown has so much meaning and I’ve become attached to it that I use it whenever I have the chance. This was the gown that I wore during my 18th birthday celebration, and many other formal occasions that I attended in the past.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the gown looks like so here goes:

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Some secrets are meant to be hidden, and some are meant to be shared. We share these secrets not to elicit controversy or make the world revolve around us. Instead, we share these secrets to let other people know how we make the most out of things and situations in our lives. Well, in this entry’s case, the gown.

Special shoutout to Adele for asking me to pose for her and for being very patient with me. She did a wonderful job. I had a great time. 🙂

I Speak Peace

I believe in positive youthful energies, in being the catalyst for change and expressing my stand in various issues through creative means. I’ve never been one to write articles filled with thousands of complicated words to state an opinion, simply because it’s boring and people won’t be reading it anyway. Well, okay, maybe some will, but I’d rather let people hear what I have to say through a song, see it through a painting or a photograph, or understand it further through a short film. I’m known for wearing my heart on my sleeve since I feel like if I opt not to express my feelings I’ll explode. I guess this is the reason why I decided to wear my I Speak Peace shirt after not wearing it for a very long time.

Earrings, Hong Kong | I Speak Peace Shirt, Eco Choices, Shawl-turned-skirt, Joey Rodriguez | Anklets, Amihan Boys + Jatujak | Shoes, Rusty Lopez
Earrings, Hong Kong | I Speak Peace Shirt, Eco Choices, Shawl-turned-skirt, Joey Rodriguez | Anklets, Amihan Boys + Jatujak | Shoes, Rusty Lopez

With all that’s been happening in our country, in the world, even, it’s hard not to feel disheartened. Months ago, there was was in Zamboanga, typhoon in Northern Luzon ( I experienced this firsthand and it’s crazy) and just recently, earthquake in Bohol. I’ve decided to avoid watching the news at night because 95% of it is bad news and I want to sleep with a happy heart and a smile on my face, thank you very much. Most of the time it’s tempting to ignore all the bad things that are happening but how can you, especially when you know that these situations are putting lives in danger.

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With all that’s happening, I decided to wear the I Speak Peace shirt since it sums up what I want to say. This shirt was designed during our I Speak Peace Camp back in 2007. The camp was designed to empower the youth and to encourage them to speak up and let those who were in charge of the peace talks hear what they have to say. Most of the time, young people feel that they don’t have the right to express themselves because they’re young and they’re not in the position of power. The camp became a venue for them to understand the importance of speaking up especially in situations that involve them and their future.

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Wearing this shirt reminded me of the discussion I had with one of our camp participants. He said that peace is not the absence of war and seeing what has been happening in our country these past months, I understand what he was telling me. I wear this shirt again today because I need to be reminded to still speak peace despite difficult situations and to speak up and let my voice be heard.

It takes a lot to wear this shirt. You have to make sure that your actions do not contradict what the shirt says. You can’t get mad no matter how annoying the situation is and you have to be nice even if it kills you. It’s not that wearing the shirt is a burden, no. It simply means that you should be mindful of your words and actions because you’re wearing a shirt that says “I speak peace”.

I believe that peace is still possible. I believe in change. I believe in making a stand through creative expressions.  I believe in statement shirts. I believe in the I speak peace shirt.

Boys Meet U

I’ve been living in my condo for six years now. I see the same set of white walls everyday but I never thought of using it as a background for my pictures. I’ve thought of painting a mural on it and maybe hang some framed shots and sketches from my portfolio, but use it as a makeshift studio? Nope. The idea of using it as a mini studio dawned on me when I saw my tripod standing against the wall. I immediately looked for angles that allowed enough light since I don’t have strobes. I prepared everything so that once I have an outfit ready, I can just stand against the wall and take a picture.

Bandana, SM Department Store | Top and Skirt, Jatujak | Baller, Roxy | Watch, Fossil | Anklets, Amihan + Jatujak | Socks, KpopSoul | Shoes, Payless | Handbag, Vietnam
Bandana, SM Department Store | Top and Skirt, Jatujak | Baller, Roxy | Watch, Fossil | Anklets, Amihan Boys + Jatujak | Socks, KpopSoul | Shoes, Payless | Handbag, Vietnam

I was channeling Taemin from SHINee’s Boys Meet U music video when I put this outfit together.  My original plan was to copy the whole ensemble but then I realized that’s just too corny. Instead, I decided to wear a more feminine version of the outfit. It’s similar to the his & hers themed outfits that couples do, except that he’s an idol and I’m a fan. IMG_31235The top has been one of my favorites since I bought it in Thailand because it’s comfy and it goes with anything. There’s always the risk of wearing stripes especially when you’re not skinny because one wrong angle costs you an additional 10 pounds but if you’re careful in planning your outfit out then there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve always been loyal to the rule that says “If you’re wearing a loose top, pair it with a skinny bottom and vice versa” and it has saved me in countless occasions. This is the reason why I paired my “Taemin top” with the black lace skirt that I also bought from Thailand. It’s feminine, it contrasts my white top, and it makes my legs look long.

Bandana, SM Department Store | Top and Skirt, Jatujak | Baller, Roxy | Watch, Fossil | Anklets, Amihan + Jatujak | Socks, KpopSoul | Shoes, Payless

I’m not really into the idea of using socks when wearing flats or heels but I had to reconsider. Setting aside the fact that it’s Taemin socks I’m wearing, my legs look bare without them. I used to find it weird when girls use socks when they wear heels but after trying it myself, it makes sense.

I guess by now you’re wondering what Taemin was wearing in the video so I’m putting it here. You’ll spot him, trust me. Have fun watching. 🙂

Expressway

I like SHINee. There, I said it.

I used to be one of those people who gag when hearing KPOP songs on the radio. Well, okay there were some exceptions but I’ve never been one to really follow a Korean idol group and listen to their music and watch their music videos. I have friends who live and breathe KPOP, study Hangul just to understand the songs, and even spend huge amounts of money on albums and concert tickets. Their passion for KPOP was a mystery to me… until I started watching To the Beautiful You last April.

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Top and cap, Skechers x SHINee

When I’m going through something, especially when it concerns the heart, I lock myself up. I’m not keen on the idea of meeting every single person, repeating the story, and crying my heart out because 1) I don’t like that kind of attention and 2)it can be very exhausting. I was going through my daily routine of waking up – eating – lying down – listening to music while crying when I decided to turn on the television. Showing was To The Beautiful You where the leading man was SHINee’s Choi Minho, who didn’t really appeal to me at that time. I was more interested in the story of his love interest, Sulli, who pretended to be a man so she ca go to his school and… well you already know how the story ends. Anyway, I downloaded the episodes and eventually found myself watching it on a daily basis. I enjoyed the story, I  fell in love with Choi Minho’s character, and before I knew it, I began looking for his other dramas. My research brought me to his band, SHINee. I looked for their songs, listened to them, and found comfort in the beat and lyrics that didn’t make sense at all. I remember the first song I heard was “Why So Serious”, then after that, I heard “Helllo”, and then “Replay”. I liked the last two songs so I downloaded them and played them on loop. From then on, I became a SHAWOL (a SHINee fan). I’m still not into the whole KPOP idea. I just like SHINee plus two or three other groups and that’s it.  I now understand why my KPOP crazy friends behave the way they do. 🙂

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Top and cap, Skechers x SHINee | Dress, Kashieca | Shoes, Converse

In case you’re wondering, these photos were taken in an expressway in Thailand. Our taxi had a flat tire and we had to wait for hours for the repairs. To distract ourselves, my mom and I went outside the car and started to take pictures. Yes, it was annoying that that incident happened, but we didn’t want to let it ruin our day. Things happen no matter how hard you plan your trips abroad. What’s important is you open yourself to the possibilities and allow yourself to see the positive side when things don’t go as planned.

 

Visiting Temples

Anyone who has been to Siem Reap and Thailand will recommend that you visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor Wat and Ayutthaya. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is a sight to see especially when you go there at dawn and wait for the sunrise. It’s breathtaking to see the sky change its color from black to different shades of blue with hints of yellow, orange, pink, and purple. I cried the first time I saw Angkor Wat because I was so amazed at how it was constructed (think manual labor) and how something so beautiful was preserved through the years. The Ayutthaya temples in Thailand are just as beautiful. Legend has it that it was in 1767 when the Burmese attacked the city and chopped the  heads of the Buddha statues. The Buddha tree in Wat Mahatat, Ayutthaya is very famous because of the Buddha’s head that sits firmly in it’s tangled roots. To show respect, one must kneel or sit down when taking a picture with the Buddha.

Since the temples are sacred, there are outfit restrictions. People who wear caps, sleeveless tops and skirts that drop above the knee are not given access in some of temples. I was aware of this since I did some research before going so I had time to plan my outfit.

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Shades, Ray Ban | Top, Bettina | Skirt, Thailand | Bangle, Vietnam | Baller, Roxy | Flip flops, Billabong

I went with a white blouse with butterfly sleeves since I knew that it will be very hot. The butterfly sleeves and the blouse’s cotton fabric allowed air to pass through so I wasn’t sweating that much. The wrap-around skirt dropped down to my ankles so I didn’t have to worry about not being able to enter some of the temples. The Roxy baller never left my left arm since a surfer friend gave it to me last Christmas – it makes me feel that the ocean is with me wherever I go. I bought the bangle during my trip to Vietnam last year. I decided to use it since it matches the color accents on my blouse.

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It’s important to bring a bag with you when you’re visiting temples. You will need to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration, a face towel, and extra clothes. For this visit, I used the bag my mom gave me since it can hold a lot of items and it has a secret pocket. I managed to fit the essentials plus my DSLR without it being too bulky.

What I enjoyed the most about my visit to the temples was mentally revisiting all my history notes dates since elementary. The stories and articles that I only saw in text books, articles, and journals were finally standing before me- I didn’t have to imagine what they looked like anymore. It is true that travelling is the best form of education because you don’t just read about it; you experience it, real time.

 

I’m a Charmee Girl!

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So this is what happens when you randomly Google yourself. You find links announcing that you passed the 2009 Board Exams, links about the Kids for Peace Foundation and… a link showing that you’ve been featured as a Charmee Girl. Thank you Seph Cham and Shai Lagarde of Love Chic for the opportunity. :)