Things I learned about love (thanks to a medical mission)

The United Catanduanes San Diego (UCSD) and Friends is a nonprofit charitable group based in San Diego with partners, members, and avid supporters from different parts of the USA and the Philippines. Founded by Virac-born Dr. Oscar Enriquez, UCSD organizes and conducts medical and humanitarian missions to benefit remote areas of Catanduanes. Dr. Enriquez is an internal medicine specialist in the USA and owner of Standard Medical Clinic in Port Arthur, Texas. Aside from his great strides at UCSD, the benevolent doctor also unfailingly donates to other projects that reach out to the needy in Cagayan de Oro City and Bukidnon. 

For its outreach program in Catanduanes, which is traditionally held in the love month of February, the group has appended “Gift of Love” to its mission title.  I had the chance to volunteer in this year’s program and although I was not able to participate in all its activities, yet on those days that I did during the week-long run from February 13 to 17, I realized that the organizers couldn’t have chosen a better tag line.

Here’s sharing how I see UCSD expressing love in the context of charity, compassion, and sharing one’s blessings with the less fortunate.   

Love is contagious

Through the years, UCSD has widened its influence to include not only the family members, friends, and colleagues of Dr. Enriquez, but also his American patients. With his compelling charm, Dr. Enriquez does not have to try hard to win support from others. The group enjoys the backing of generous sponsors including Dr. Murlidhar Amin, a cardiologist from Texas; Bob Spencer and The Rotary Club of Greater Chino Hills; Waraynon Initiative Network; and friends from all over the USA. In Catanduanes, it has strong partnerships with the Diocese of Virac, medical professional groups, local government units, and the youth sector.

Other members are just as dedicated and committed, and with the circle of friends expanding, the act of contributing to a worthy cause does not need a hard sell. Love grows and glows. UCSD has got it made.

Love is persevering

UCSD medical missions operate on a three-year cycle, with the first two years dedicated to fundraising, procuring medicines, medical supplies, various essentials, and sending those goods in batches to the Philippines. The storage, sorting, packing, and related logistics including overall planning and transportation services are handled by facilitators in Catanduanes. Religious groups and local health units are instrumental in qualifying needy recipients and preparation of venues. Even before the actual start of the mission on the third year, arduous work, coordination, and mobilization had been at play in pursuing its objectives.

Love transcends all barriers

Torrential rains notwithstanding, the Gift of Love medical mission went on in several places on the island.

Catanduanes is composed of 11 municipalities, with the farthest point up north entailing more than two hours drive from the provincial capital Virac. Similar missions in the past were conducted solely in the capital town. During the onset of the pandemic three years ago, UCSD had to resort to a different strategy to reach out to all the municipalities, leaving no one behind. The same operational plan was followed this year, with teams starting out early morning to their designated activity centers. The rainy weather at this time of year on this island facing the Pacific Ocean posed some challenges on the road and on mission sites, but these did not dampen the enthusiasm of the dedicated team workers.

Love knows no age

Tio Miniong Enriquez manning the Optometry Services section.

I am no spring chicken and at times I had doubts if I could sustain the energy to go about the required tasks during the long hours. Seeing 83-year-old Tio Miniong (Herminio) Enriquez, a retired accountant, ably assisting at the Optical Services section, promptly eased my apprehensions. Nonagenarian Tio Guimoy (Guillermo) Lizaso and his wife Nelly, still sprightly despite the years, flew in from California to do their part for the mission; they are generous donors and constant supporters of UCSD.  My takeaway: When the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, think love. It works like an elixir.

Love is never perfect

Despite earnest planning and preparation, some glitches are inevitable. In one such case, one team ran short of medicines and other supplies. The closest team had to travel to the affected site for the required reinforcement. In another case, one group just got swamped with more help seekers than they could handle. The opposite scenario of having too few cases to attend to at one barangay, called for a regrouping of manpower. All these served as lessons to be considered in future missions.

Love is a commitment

The mission ended last February 17 and many of the Gift of Love advocates have flown back to the USA. Their local counterparts have sprung back from that gruelling week. Overall, around 4,000 Catandunganon residents of 60 barangays in all 11 towns benefited from the mission. The health concerns of many women and children were given due attention. Thousands of residents received free consultations and prescribed medications, dental services, food packs, hygiene kits and reading glasses, among others. The same services were extended to some Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) at the Virac District Jail.

But for this group, the end of one mission marks the start of the next one. The reboot is on. Soon, UCSD will be spearheading new awareness and fundraising initiatives through its various partnerships.

And the love cycle continues.


Love, actually

February 14, 2023. Valentine’s Day.

Heart images, roses, love symbols everywhere. You know, everything that shouts out LOVE – of the romantic type, that is.

Where I chose to be and how I spent this day speaks of another type of love. I am referring to ‘agape’ which, in contrast to romantic love, extends to the love between God and men and therefore reflects one’s love of his fellow men. This is manifested in acts of charity, compassion, and unselfish love for others. Agape, without question, is the highest form of love.

I take this to be the most apt term for what the United Catanduanes San Diego (UCSD) and Friends, has adopted as its reason for being. UCSD is a nonprofit charitable group that organizes medical and humanitarian missions to benefit the remote areas of Catanduanes.

For five days starting February 13 this year, this group composed of US-based professionals with roots from Catanduanes, volunteers from the island province and other places, and a host of other kindred souls, gathered and organized themselves into teams to fulfill the mission of sharing the Gift of Love to all 11 municipalities of Catanduanes.

Underserved barangays outside of the población were designated as activity centers taking into account their accessibility to other nearby barrios. In close coordination with mission churches and local parishes, beneficiaries were pre-selected based on their needs, to ensure a faster and more efficient flow of activities.

Day 2, with the Sicmil team

The second day of the mission brought us to Sicmil, a barangay in the municipality of Gigmoto, while another team was posted in Mayngaway in San Andres. Getting to Sicmil from the provincial capital of Virac takes about two hours through winding roads that provide a view of rolling hills, verdant mountains, and beaches. UCSD president Dr. Oscar Enriquez, regards the travel route as something similar to Maui in Hawaii; but he quickly qualifies that the Catanduanes version is even better and more scenic. He fondly refers to the place as “his Maui.”

The UCSD mission stop in Sicmil shows the extent of preparation, attention to details, and coordination among different groups that went into the final implementation of a long and exhaustive process. It mirrors how similar teams assigned to different barangays would go about their activities for an entire day.

Pre-listed beneficiaries are given priority numbers and referred to proper section.

Patients are triaged and checked for vital signs.

Medical consultants evaluate cases and make recommendations;

patients are then sent to pharmacy services for available OTC medicines.

Volunteer dentists perform appropriate dental procedures.

Women/expectant mothers are referred to the OB-GYN section for reproductive concerns.

The Pediatrics section provides consultation and OTC medicines for children.

Optometric Services handle requests for reading glasses.

Gift packs consisting of hygiene kits, rice, slippers, and other essentials await both seniors and children.

Hot soup and sweet treats are provided for all.

OTC medicines are dispensed by licensed practitioners.

Personal Sidelights

My memories of the 2023 UCSD-Sicmil stop will always include meeting Esmeraldo Tawat, a 93-year-old resident of Tinago (some six kilometers away from Sicmil). Tang Esmeng, despite his age, is remarkably sharp; he remembers the month, day, year – and even the time of his birth! He was there to get some help regarding his vision problems. With him are some of his  children and grandchildren – three generations of a family that received gifts of love from UCSD.

Some beneficiaries who got to experience being served by the medical mission for the first time approached me to express their appreciation and thanks for the goods and services they received during the day. Amused by being addressed as ‘doctora,’ (perhaps owing to the white vest I was wearing that had the UCSD logo) I had to explain that I was a mere cog in the wheel and that appreciation should be accorded to those people who dedicated so much time, effort, resources, and love to bring the project to reality.

Lourdes Peňola, a middle-aged mom, promptly replied, “Diit man na tabang o dacula, ga-pasalamat ako sa tabang ninyo sa samuyang mga nanga-ipo.” Her words, spoken in the local dialect, pulled at my heartstrings. She said that help, whether big or small when extended to the needy, is something to be thankful for.

Standing close to her was her sister, another housewife with her youngest child in tow. She had this to say: “Ang pasalamat ko sa Diyos buda sa tabang kang mga tawong pareho ninyo.” (My thanks go to God and to the help of people like you.)

The validation sounded so good and inspiring.

Hope to experience this again in 2026.

Haikus and Blooms

For the past several years, I have found so much pleasure in posting different cover photos for my Facebook page.

Last year, it was all about character strengths and how they contribute to experiencing fulfillment and happiness in daily life.

The year before that, I shared images and popular quotes about each month.

For 2022, I combined haikus and blooms to reflect on the beauty and significance of 12 tropical flowers commonly found in the Philippines. Of course, each one deserves more than three lines of tribute, but for now, and just to end this year on a cheerful note, I am sharing all of them here.

I started 2022 with a haiku on the lotus flower as a symbol of resilience and the quest for enlightenment.

In April, childhood memories came back with the santan flower. May was tinged with political color, and despite dashed hopes, summer came with sunflowers to nudge us to the reality that we can remain cool in hot weather.

The haikus for the next five months speak for themselves.

My December cover features the poinsettia, and how it reminds me to be grateful for what a great and blessed year this has been!

No reason to be lonely in Panglao

There are at least two versions on how Panglao island in Bohol province got its name. One says that Panglao was derived from the word “panggao” or “panggaw,” a native fishing device. The name evolved from “panggaw” to “panglaw” and finally to “Panglao.” The other story points to a historic event in 1803 when Spaniards came to this island and named it Panglao after the word “mapanglao” (alt. mapanglaw)  or a lonesome place.

With regard to the second version, Panglao has clearly shaken off its ‘lonesome’ connotation as it has, through the years, developed into a major tourist attraction known for its white sand beaches and fabulous diving sites. Recently, however, it has received some bad press owing to a complaint posted by a netizen involving overpriced seafood during an island hopping tour. The incident led to the closing of food stalls on the island in question (Virgin Island) – a move that certainly made many vendors unhappy or ‘mapanglaw.’

We were here around the same time that this contentious issue happened. In our case, though, we had no time for island hopping. Our limited stay allowed us to take a countryside tour instead; yet, the experience left some pretty good memories of the island that will last for a long while — and make us want to come back to see more of what we missed on our first visit.

Here’s showing why:

Somewhere near, a lovely beach awaits.

Where we stayed (Henann Resort, Alona Beach), a small stretch of public beach was just a few steps away, perfect for a quiet stroll or just chilling out on lounging chairs by the shore. Truly, a much-needed change of scene after two years of pandemic lockdown.

Panglao offers a glimpse of a rich historic past.

Blood Compact Site

Driving through Tagbilaran City, we stopped for a look-see at the site of the Blood Compact in 1565 between Spain’s General Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Datu Sikatuna, a native chieftain of Bohol. This is regarded as the first peace treaty between two nations of different race and religion. The peace treaty is commemorated here every year through an annual celebration called the Sandugo Festival.

(Other sources, however, point to the blood compact between Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and Rajah Kolambu of Limasawa 44 years earlier in 1521, challenging the Boholano record.)

Baclayon Church

This church dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is widely regarded as the second oldest stone church in the Philippines. The foundation of the church is believed to have been built in 1595. It was declared a National Cultural Treasure and a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Museum, respectively. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List of the Philippines but had to be delisted because of the damage to its bell tower caused by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in 2013.

The magnificent church features 18th and 19th century images and altarpieces on its main altar and two side altars.

Inside the shrine, we bowed our heads in silent prayer and looked up to the ceiling in awe and appreciation of the paintings done by artists from different parts of the Philippines.

Clingy butterflies, wide-eyed tarsiers, harmless pythons…

After being holed up with furry feline friends at home for the past couple of years, it was such a thrill to see (and touch) other members of the animal kingdom. In the wildlife sanctuaries that we visited in Bohol, we spent some awesome time with butterflies that didn’t fly away at the sight of people.

An albino python was so cool with being petted by visitors. We were awestruck by the flying lemur and bright-colored hornbill. And of course, the iconic tarsiers of Bohol.  Clinging to tree branches and blending in with the surroundings, it was so easy to miss their tiny form – but oh, those eyes!

Refreshing drive through the Mahogany Forest

On the way to see the famous Chocolate Hills, we drove through a two-kilometer stretch of road lined with towering mahogany trees. This man-made forest was part of a reforestation project to address the problems caused by slash-and-burn farming and to ensure proper water supply to the Loboc River. Full implementation of the project started in 1958 after years of delay owing to insufficient funding.

The Mahogany Forest is a favorite stop for tourists (us included) who want to savor the cool and breezy vibe while posing for souvenir photos!

The call of the hills

We had to cross out some items in our itinerary for the day, but there was no way we would miss climbing 220 steps for a view of the famous Chocolate Hills. But up we went and it was all worth it!

The conical, almost symmetrical hills are such a refreshing sight, inviting questions as to how they were formed. There had been several attempts to explain their origin – including volcanic activities, tidal movements, and geologic shifts. Going past these theories, Chocolate Hills have been included in the National Geological Monuments of the Philippines (along with Taal Volcano, the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte, etc.) and is being proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The hills merited the name ‘Chocolate’ because their grass covering turns brown during the dry season. We visited in rainy August and saw them blanketed in lush green grass, and I like them better that way. Green is generally associated with nature, harmony, and many other beautiful things – a lot of which we experienced during our brief stay in Panglao.

133 years ago today

(Originally posted under Facebook Notes on August 19, 2011. Today is the 144th birth anniversary of Manuel Luis Quezon, first President of the Philippine Commonwealth).

Kaunting bato, kaunting semento – monumento. Who hasn’t heard of this playful saying before? But for truly great men and women, cement and pebbles just won’t make the grade. The Quezon Monument at the historic Perez Park in Lucena consisting of a larger-than-life size bronze statue standing on marble base is one beautiful symbol of greatness, not only of the person being honored, but also of the little-known heroes who helped shape the structure.

The statue was built out of one-centavo bronze coins donated by young school children all over Quezon Province. The collected coins were sent to Italy where they were melted and molded into its current form by an Italian sculptor. Conceived in 1950, the monument was finally erected in 1954 at the expansive Perez Park, a popular historical destination in Lucena. A marble wall inscribed with President Quezon’s “Message to My People” serves as a perfect backdrop.

The full text of the message follows.

Message to My People

My fellow citizens: there is one thought I want you always to bear in mind. And that is: that you are Filipinos. That the Philippines is your country, and the only country God has given you. That you must keep it for yourselves, for your children, and for your children’s children, until the world is no more. You must live for it, and die for it, if necessary.

Your country is a great country. It has a great past, and a great future. The Philippines of yesterday is consecrated by the sacrifices of lives and treasure of your patriots, martyrs, and soldiers. The Philippines of today is honored by the wholehearted devotion to its cause of unselfish and courageous statesmen. The Philippines of tomorrow will be the country of plenty, of happiness, and of freedom. A Philippines with her head raised in the midst of the West Pacific, mistress of her own destiny, holding in her hand the torch of freedom and democracy. A republic of virtuous and righteous men and women all working together for a better world than the one we have at present.

                                                                                            –   Manuel L. Quezon*

*born August 19, 1878

What are your Character Strengths?

(Banner Photo Source: Dreamstime)

In the midst of the pandemic lockdown last year until recently, I turned to online courses to keep my mind off unproductive thoughts. The ones I completed provided valuable takeaways, but I want to mention three that left such meaningful and lasting impressions: “The Science of Well-Being” (Yale University), “Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty” (University of Pennsylvania), and “Positive Psychology” (University of Pennysylvania) – all from the Coursera platform.

All three had substantial discussions on the virtue of character strengths and how developing them can help us experience fulfillment and satisfaction in our daily lives. Recognizing our unique character strengths and applying them in our personal activities could hold the key to creating better versions of ourselves.

From the 24 character strengths listed by The VIA Institute on Character, I chose 12 and used them as subjects for my Facebook cover photos, after adding related quotes from well-known personalities.

For the first-half of 2021, I posted cover photos for Optimism, Love, Kindness, Perspective, Humor, and Faith.

From July to December, I shared quotes about Humility, Gratitude, Creativity, Leadership, Integrity, and Enthusiasm.

By compiling all of them in this blog post, now I only need to click once to be reminded that happiness and well-being, indeed, can be taught and learned.

Should you want to know what your character strengths are, simply click here.

You may also want to consider registering for any of the courses I mentioned through Coursera.

“You cannot dream yourself into a Character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”

— James A. Froude

Have a CAREWELL Christmas!

Christmas is about showing how much you care. It’s about sharing and giving gifts to celebrate your special bond with your loved ones, dear friends, and trusted associates.

This coming Christmas, allow one group known for ‘caring well’ to help spread Love and Hope – the most precious gifts ever!

Carewell (short for the Cancer Resource and Wellness Community) is a nonprofit foundation that provides support, education, and HOPE to persons with cancer. Members participate in support group meetings, informative talks, counseling, and various wellness activities – all free of charge. For over 15 years, Carewell incorporators, sponsors, volunteer healthcare professionals, office staff, and members have committed themselves to the mission of managing the challenges of cancer through holistic means. Despite the pandemic, Carewell continues to provide its activities via the virtual platform.

In its latest fundraising campaign, Carewell invites friends and supporters to help in its mission through donations in exchange for gift packages as described below.

Please consider this opportunity to help Carewell while expressing the true meaning of Christmas – making others happy – as we celebrate another season of Love.

To express your support, kindly fill out this form.

You may click here to know more about Carewell and its wellness advocacy.

This Happy Farmer Breaks Gender Stereotypes

It takes someone who has actually done it to state with confidence that the hands that rock the cradle can also till the soil. Women can successfully raise children, produce food by cultivating the land, and contribute significantly to community building.

 Luzviminda Teston-Oropesa is one such woman.

None of those tasks is easy, especially for a single mother like her, who manages her farm in an environment that lies in the country’s typhoon belt. Minda Oropesa is from Catanduanes, which had experienced extreme weather disturbances in recent memory. Each time she felt like giving up upon seeing the damage caused by those storms, she kept reminding herself of the many reasons she should rise and start all over again. She has always placed the welfare of the farm workers and those who stand to benefit from the fruits of their labor above her own.

Geologist turned farmer

Before she went into farming, Minda was a professional geologist and was working as the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) officer of a mining company in Leyte. While managing soil rehabilitation activities in the mined areas, she envisioned vast potentials for her family-owned farm in Catanduanes. She had clear plans for her retirement, and as soon as the opportunity came in 2011, she went back to her idyllic town of Baras and started developing their more than three hectares of agricultural property.

Oropesa as featured in the 2020 calendar of the Department of Agriculture

In 2012 she organized the Happy Farmers Producers Integrated and Livelihood Association, Inc. (HAFPILA) composed of 37 members/farmers, 30 of whom were women. The term ‘Happy Farmers’ in their name has the same ring to it as that of The Happy Island, the tag used by Catanduanes for tourism promotion. The organic farm is listed as one of the Certified Learning Sites for Agriculture in the Bicol region, a classification given to farms that adopt applicable agricultural technologies, using doable and sustainable farming strategies, and are operating successfully.


She deserves the credit for introducing the members to the Diversified Integrated Farming System (DIFS), a concept that favors polyculture or growing different crops, over that of the traditional monoculture, where a single crop is planted over a wide area. Researches have shown that DIFS is more viable, uses natural resources more efficiently, offers better pest resistance, and produces more varied and nutritious produce. In the long term, it has better contribution to economic stability and social equality as it allows farmers to participate directly in decision making.

Everything Organic

Vermiculture has an important role in organic farming

The member farmers do not use chemical fertilizers; instead, they produce carbonized rice hull enriched with vermicompost tea and extracts from fish amino acids (FAA), fermented plant juice (FPJ), and oriental herbal nutrients (OHN). They also engage in vermiculture or the cultivation of earthworms for composting. The by-products, which are made available commercially to the community, have been proven in many studies to promote plant growth and significantly increase nutrient content of fruits and vegetables without degrading the natural resources.

These days it is not uncommon to see young people, especially agriculture students from the Catanduanes State University and youth council members, getting immersed in farm activities – a hopeful vision for Minda. “Our farmers are already old, I hope that the children will continue their parents’ endeavors in tilling the land where they were born,” says this woman farmer who walked her talk when she chose to nurture her father’s bequeathed land.

Agri students learn how to turn rice hulls into organic fertilizer

At certain times, Minda’s farm would burst with colors from flowers and fruits of roselle, dragon fruit, and other seasonal crops, which are sold fresh or processed as jams. For additional income and sustained livelihood, HAFPILA ventured into the production of natural food supplements in 2014. Medicinal plants, including moringa, serpentina, turmeric, mangosteen, and gotu kola grow abundantly on the island. These are solar-dried or made into tea, essential oil, or processed and packed as food supplements in capsule form. Despite the ‘no approved therapeutic claims’ caveat, the use of certain herbs for medicinal purposes has become popular in many cultures. Many of them are undergoing scientific reviews for their possible health benefits, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic. For example, serpentina (Andrographis Paniculata) is believed to reduce the severity of lung inflammation and could be helpful during the early stages of Covid 19.

Part of the farm planted with dragon fruits, a rich source of healthful nutrients and profitable income
Oropesa and some of HAFPILA’s products at a recent trade fair

Happy Farmers, for a Happier, Healthier Lifestyle

For her laudable initiatives to promote organic farming in Catanduanes, Minda was awarded the top prize in the Search for Outstanding Rural Women of the Department of Agriculture in 2015. In her acceptance speech, she said, “It is an honor to be a woman. We play a big role in shaping our nation.” Onwards, she knows that this role comes with huge challenges. “Despite the abundant resources in our province, Catanduanes remains one of 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines with high prevalence of malnutrition,” she says.

Oropesa during the 2015 Awards for Outstanding Rural Women

Through HAFPILA, she hopes to achieve food security through the use of efficient, effective and productive farming systems. She dreams to replicate the humble successes of her group in as many farming communities as possible in Catanduanes. “In supporting us, in buying our products, you are helping us realize our dreams.”


Call 0926 728 3444 or click here for inquiries.

(An edited version of this article is in the August 28, 2021 issue of the BusinessMirror. Photo credits: HAFPILA, Inc.)

‘Onwards and Upwards’ virtual event streams on August 21

What if, for a few hours, you are given a chance to leave behind uncertain and distressing thoughts and make room for fresh and creative concepts? All you need to do is watch, listen, and allow yourself to be fascinated by a group of multitalented high-achievers from across several disciplines, who will discuss topics of interest to the youth.

As it is, luck is on your side because TEDxYouth@Fitzrovia led by Nicola Allen, a student at King’s College in London, will independently host a virtual event on 21st of August 2021 allowing young people like her to participate in great conversations revolving around the theme “Onwards and Upwards.” It will livestream from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm BST in London, and from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm PHT Manila.

A senior panel of experts who draw inspiration from London’s cultural diversity and vast capacity for innovation will lead the discussions with topics ranging from filmmaking for social causes, communication coaching, business and professional ethics, and space architecture or the inevitable colonization of the planet Mars!

The carefully curated panel of speakers is an impressive composite of experts in their respective fields.

Here’s a quick view of the speakers and their chosen topics.

To know why they are uniquely qualified to speak on those subjects, check out their career backgrounds here.

The event is open to the public, but registration will be open only up to August 14.

Click here to get your tickets now at Eventbrite.


A personal note about lead organizer Nicola Allen:

In the TEDxYouth@Fitzrovia web page, Nikki describes herself as an Activist, Brainstormer, Explorer, Performer, Student.

Well, she is all that and a lot more! Find out about her long list of other interests in this 2018 post. And, I might run the risk of being disowned 😊 if I fail to mention that she is the daughter of my friends Marites Allen, an international feng shui master, and Nicholas Allen, a British international executive. Nikki has three other siblings: Kirck, Kevin, and Shannen, who are all high-performers in their own rights.

I craft, therefore I am.

Pardon me for diluting Descartes. I don’t do crafts to prove I exist (although that’s also true 😊). I craft because it makes me happy. Even without realizing the many benefits of crafting back then, I just gave in to that urge to create beautiful things – either to keep and treasure, or to give away as gifts.

I was a working mom in the ‘90s when cross-stitching became a craze. I also got hooked and remember spending much of my free time doing some projects – patiently counting rows and rows of stitches, switching thread colors, until the desired pattern is sewn onto the fabric.

The fad has long ceased to be. I, too, am done with all the counting and the crisscrossing stitches. But many of my finished works are still with me, properly framed and hung in some corners of the home. I don’t have the heart to part with my labors of love.

Next Phase: Washi Eggs

With the thrill of needlework gone, I discovered a new hobby and went into a frenzy puncturing eggs. Crafting washi eggs requires whole egg shells (carefully emptied of their contents) as base, and washi paper as covering. Washi is traditional Japanese paper made from tree fibers and other natural materials.

The making of washi paper has a history that dates back to over a thousand years, and the craftsmanship was listed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2014. Imagine my sense of pride and fulfillment to have used this paper for many of my creative projects!

I have these beauties to show for this phase of my crafting journey.

Clothespins, Recycled Bottles, etc.

At one time, I got crazy with clothespins. While many of them were done for decorative purposes, quite a few came in handy as photo holders, bill clips, and refrigerator magnets.

Used bottles and jars didn’t escape my fancy.

Lately, I’ve been into decoupage. It started when a dear friend gifted me with a native bag. I figured it wouldn’t hurt if I jazz it up a bit. It didn’t hurt, either, that after that first attempt, so many similar projects followed. I used them in lieu of Christmas boxes, as gifts to friends, and quite a number were sold to interested buyers. 😊

The pandemic restrictions should have given me more time to indulge my crafting passion. Ironically, my crafting supplies are getting lonesome. If only they could, they would have cried for attention. Truth is, I got even busier these past months with my online work – writing and editing for my longtime clients. Some say working with words is another craft form, while some will argue to the contrary and say it’s more of an art.

If you’d ask me, I would like to revisit my crafting kit the soonest I could.