Sweet Earth: Homemade, handmade & handcrafted

NEW BEGINNINGS (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2015 - 10:00am

When a mother and a daughter join forces to bring forth their creativity and turn it into a business endeavor, can success be far behind?

Joee Mendiola-Manalo grew up seeing her mother Susan Mendiola turn broken toys and discarded drum sets into chandeliers. Old newspapers and magazines were fashioned to become stars. Wood scraps from balusters and home ceilings became a dining table. Tiles from the neighborhood landed on Susan’s patio as she magically turned them into plant boxes or decorative home pieces. Broken glasses were processed and became dainty flowers. Old clothes and tattered pants became bed or pillow covers. Even eggshells were not thrown away as they were used to drive away pests threatening her dendrobiums.

“Simply put, my loving mom is a basurera (trash keeper),” Joee begins, in between laughter, as she and her mother Susan hold hands.

“I always see value in things that are not important anymore to others. What others consider garbage, I look at them as treasures. The pieces I make out of found objects become my gifts to my friends and family,” quips Susan, a retired accountant.

Like her mother, Joee’s creativity is also at a fever pitch. Though she does not turn to “garbage and scraps from the neighborhood,” Joee’s desire to create and design whimsically hand-carved chairs, side tables and trays is spawned by her love for nature. “I am big on the reduce-reuse-recycle campaign,” says Joee.

Glued by their creative energies, Susan and Joee found a venue to further express their artistry to become a business venture: Sweet Earth.

“Sweet Earth offers a collection of inspirations to adorn your home or make your thoughts grow and last with gift ideas, that will keep on giving and growing,” Joee explains.

Sweet Earth was born out of three inspirations. The Meg & Moira Home Art Pieces is a line of fancifully hand-carved furniture, frames and trays. The line is inspired by the joy precocious Meg and Moira bring their parents Joee and Mike Manalo. It is because of Joee’s desire to be there all the time for her young daughters that prompted her to leave her flourishing career as an accounts director for a big advertising agency. 

The Giving Gifts, on the other hand, has 100-percent eco-friendly papers, boxes and “plantable” cards. (Joee says these cards are sourced abroad and have tiny seeds embedded in them. “You ‘plant’ the card and the seeds germinate to become flowering plants,” she says with amusement.)

Susan’s Share Passion, on the other hand, offers homemade goodies (polvoron, yema and pastillas) and handmade crafts from recycled treasures. True to form, Susan sells glass flowers and vases made out of processed glass debris, crocheted throw pillows and bed covers, Christmas décor made of paper, rosaries and other “found treasures.”

Susan does not only venture into this business solely for her own sake. She gives livelihood to physically and emotionally battered women by teaching them how to make crafts. “I started 20 years ago teaching some women who want to find meaning again in their lives. I am just happy to share my talent with them. I find joy in empowering them,” Susan says.

Silently joining (and complementing) Sweet Earth is Joee’s husband, Mike Manalo. Mike is the owner slash director of Director’s Board, a video and film production company that makes commercials, cinema ads and AVPs. Mike and his highly-creative people also dabble on creating murals on doors. These painted doors, which Mike calls Pinto-Ra, form part of the Sweet Earth collections.

With everything homemade, handmade and handcrafted, Sweet Earth promises to be a sweet success.

(Sweet Earth runs until Oct. 10 at the Director’s Board, G/F,

The Colonnade Residences, 132 Legaspi St. cor. C. Palanca St., Makati City. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ilovesweetearth or e-mail ilovesweetearth@gmail.com.)

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Come to the Casa y Jardin bazaar

The hardworking and generous ladies of the Catholic Women’s Club (CWC), in existence since 1921, contribute to 65 charities in the Philippines, foremost is the Elsie Gaches Village, one of the country’s largest homes for children with developmental disorders. Last July, the CWC donated 20 houses to Gawad Kalinga in Palo, Leyte.

“To sustain contribution to many charity-oriented institutions and help the poorest of the poor, the CWC holds fundraising activities. One of its major fundraising works is the Casa y Jardin bazaar,” says Estela Lopez, chairwoman of the Casa y Jardin bazaar.

This year’s bazaar will be held on Oct. 24 and 25 at the InterContinental Hotel Manila in Makati City. Lopez adds it will be done  through the generosity of Bea Zobel de Ayala, a CWC member who subsidizes the club by taking care of the rent for one of two days of the bazaar at the InterCon.

“This fundraising bazaar is very timely as it opens the Christmas season. We are selling our limited-edition plates by well-known Filipino artists. We will also sell the coffee-table book I am here to be with you, which chronicles the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines,” says Lopez.

“We will have outstanding products to sell from beautiful jewelry, antique pieces, clothes, hand bags, shoes, uniforms, small- and medium-sized paintings of young and up-and-coming talented artists, and exquisite Christmas picture frames, decor and giveaways,” adds Tessie Amparo, co-chair of the bazaar.

CWC promises a rewarding experience at Casa y Jardin bazaar on Oct. 24 and 25, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at InterCon Hotel in Makati.

(For more information, contact CWC at the G/F Parish Center, Santuario de San Antonio, McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati City with tel. no. 843-2869.)

(For your new beginnings, e-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.com. I’m also on Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)

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