Google My Business Workshop Seminar

Google My Business Poster | (c) Avel Manasala

When you graduate from the university, you think that finally, you can stop studying and learning. Well, that thought is indeed inviting. However, once you begin to apply for jobs or work for offices/companies, you realize that it’s a different playing field. The rules have changed, and you need to keep up. You then go back to browsing articles online, learning what needs to be learned, and equipping yourself with the tools that you need to prepare you for your career.

Since I decided to take the leap of faith and become a social entrepreneur, I have to keep looking for resources, services, and tools to help me grow and manage my business. As a social enterprise that’s based in Cotabato City, it’s even more difficult to reach out to clients because of all the bad publicity. People usually think of Cotabato as a place of war and that’s definitely not the case. For quite some time, I’ve been thinking of ways to reach out to more people, I’m just fortunate that I was introduced to Mr. Avel Manansala of Google Business Groups – General Santos City.

He then invited me to attend the Google My Business Seminar Workshop which was held at STI College Gensan. Through the seminar, I learned about the different Google products that I can use for Eco Choices. It’s funny because I’ve been using the Google search engine and Gmail since around 2006 but I had no idea that they also offer products that can help you put places on the map (Google Maps), rate and review establishments (Google Local Guides), and keep track of clicks and site visits (Google My Business). Mr. Marcus Foon, the GBG community manager (GLOBAL) based in Singapore,  answered our questions and gave us tips on how we can maximize Google’s products and features such as this one:


People usually use Google Maps to look for specific places and directions. I had no idea that it can also be used to display some of your products, input some information about your business, answer queries, and post reviews. I was also stoked to see Eco Choices on the map! So yeah, if you want to find us, just type Eco Choices on your Google Map and you’ll find us. You can also leave a review so we know how to improve our business.

(c) Avel Manansala

About thirty entrepreneurs with different products and services attended the seminar. We were all given a chance to talk about ourselves as entrepreneurs and share our products and because of that, we were able to network with each other. I’m sure  we all Googled each other after the workshop.

We were also interviewed by Rean Hazel Hacosta of TV Patrol Soccsksargen:


The Internet is a powerful tool that should not be limited to the use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While it’s no secret that these social media platforms help boost online presence and improve business, there are other products and services offered by Google that can help you closely monitor your business.

Mr. Avel and Mr. Marcus, thank you once again for the opportunity. I learned so much from you. Until next time! 🙂


Eco Choices: Product Shoot

Two hands, countless crafts, endless possibilities. | Canon 1000D

I spent the entire morning crouching over our wooden table to take pictures of Eco Choices‘ water hyacinth crafts. While it’s always difficult to wake up early on a weekend, I had to fight the temptation to go back to bed because during the Visual Merchandising Workshop, Mr. Rey Soliven mentioned that the best time to do a product shoot is between 9:00 – 11:00 in the morning via natural light. I found a wooden table by the window and after preparing everything, I started to shoot.

I had to measure every single product, after placing it carefully on the table. I wanted to photos to be bright, sharp, and clean not because they will be used for our website, but because the products are equivalent to sleepless nights, expensive workshop fees, revised design concepts, body pains, and hours that I will never get back. I only noticed that I’ve been working for hours when my back started to hurt. I looked at the products and I couldn’t believe I made those. Two hands. Countless water hyacinth crafts.

I’m not writing this so I can brag about what I can do. I’m writing this because I want to give you a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes. There are stories behind each output, and the effort put into each and every single one of them is exceptional. It’s not secret that the products are not perfect and that’s okay because at the end of the day, it’s their imperfections that make them beautiful.



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


Keyboard Warrior | ASUS Zenfone

This is about breaking my daily routine. A normal day for me would mean spending six hours at the work shop to produce handmade products for Eco Choices. That has been my routine for two years now.

While my hands were itching to work on handicrafts, I had to ignore my “cravings”. Instead, I sat down, used the laptop and listened to the tapping of the keys as my fingers danced across the keyboard. It felt great. I don’t remember spending that much time working with Microsoft Word because these days, I spend more time with InDesign, Photoshop, and Premiere.

The break was refreshing, it was great to play with words again but I can’t wait to go back to the work shop and get my hands dirty.


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.


The Sunday Currently | 01

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Lazy Dawg | Canon 550D

The first Sunday of the year! Have you noticed how everyone’s all of a sudden gung ho on celebrating every single “first” every new year? First meal, first movie, first date, and the list goes on. Anyway, along with Project 365, I also promised myself that I’ll blog more this year. I think I only have five entries for 2015. How sad is that. 0_0


Articles on design. It’s a new year, and I need to work on new designs and products for Eco Choices. Stay tuned! 🙂

This blog. I’ve been wanting to write about The Sunday Currently since last year. Guess today’s a good day to start!

Birds chirping, the sound of my brother cooking in the kitchen, and audion from a movie my mom’s watching.

About plans and design concepts for 2016. I want to maximize this year and be the best version of myself.

Food for lunch. I am craving!

For better lungs. I almost had an asthma attack last night. Meh.

I finish my errands soon.

White shirt and shorts.

My mom’s 50mm lens. I used it to take pictures of my beagles this morning and I love the bokeh!

Peace of mind.

More sleep.

Hungry. Very hungry.

Join The Sunday Currently link-up by siddathornton!


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.

University Business Clinic

I was invited by SPARK Philippines to share my story as a social entrepreneur to the students who attended the University Business Clinic held at Systems Technology Institute (STI) Cotabato City yesterday. Although I’m used to speaking in front of a huge crowd and sharing my story, I was nervous. It was my first time to talk about business.

When you’re a freelance photographer and a licensed librarian, it’s difficult to explain why you’re a social entrepreneur. People expect you to be buried under a pile of books while working on card catalogs and shushing students at the slightest hint of noise when you tell them that you graduated with a degree in Library and Information Science. When you tell them that you’re a photographer, they expect you to wear an SLR around your neck and shoot like there’s no tomorrow. Life has its way of surprising us and truth be told, I’m still surprised that I’m being called a social entrepreneur. Me? Really? What do I know about business?

I was nervous on the way to STI. I threw a couple of jokes to make my mom and myself laugh but deep down, I was worried. What if they don’t like my presentation? What if they ask a lot of questions? Yes I did my research and I prepared for the event but since I was asked to share about a topic that wasn’t in my field of expertise, I had butterflies in my stomach. There were almost 200 students when I entered the room, all waiting for the event to start. I found comfort in the presence of the familiar faces that greeted me with a smile when I arrived. I rushed over to Darren and Fatima who were both preparing for their presentations.

The event started with Darren showing everyone the Young Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 2013 (YWEB) video. Fatima and I were both nostalgic when we saw pictures and clips of the event that happened three months ago. Darren then introduced Fatima as the first speaker. I had a great time listening to her story. I’ve known her since the beginning of the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. in 2000 but it was my first time to hear her story about her business (Elijah’s Marketing).

It was my turn to speak after Fatima, and when I stood in front of the students, I asked them to take turns in guessing what my course was back in college. Some said nursing, some said engineering while others said communication. I laughed at the expressions on their faces when I told them that I’m a licensed librarian. “But you don’t look like one!”, they said. That reaction, I’m used to. When I saw that they were ready to listen, I felt comfortable. I proceeded with my presentation.

Photo by Darren Gonzales
Photo by Darren Gonzales

I told them about Eco Choices and how I assumed my position as the manager. I shared with them my journey as a social entrepreneur and how it’s been a crazy ride for the past few months. I heaved a sigh of relief when the presentation was finished. They had questions after, mostly about how they can volunteer and be a part of Eco Choices.

Darren and Fatima dropped by Eco Choices! :) Photo by James Ryan Buenacosa
Darren and Fatima dropped by Eco Choices! 🙂 Photo by James Ryan Buenacosa

Talking about Eco Choices fueled my passion to make the store successful. It has been a bumpy ride and we’ve had several attempts to close the store because we wanted to give up. The presentation yesterday reminded me of my goals for Eco Choices. SPARK Philippines and STI Cotabato City, thank you so much for having me! I had a nice time sharing my story with you. 🙂