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Folding paper in quarantine |

Modern Living

Folding paper in quarantine

CITY SENSE - Paulo Alcazaren - The Philippine Star
Folding paper in quarantine
Sarj tends to his folded pets.

Most everyone’s tried the Japanese art of paper folding. It’s a standard in most elementary arts classes. With many sequestered in tight or shared spaces in their homes, all you need is a small, flat surface and scrap paper to start creating art.

I chanced upon the Facebook Page of Origami Artists of the Philippines and was blown away by the creations of their members. We interview three origamists (yes, that’s what they’re called) from that organization, to unfold their secrets.

As shown by this trio’s body of work, there are no limits to what can be created with just ordinary paper. Many hours of happy origami can be yours at almost no cost and instructions are online for free. So fold, crease, and enjoy.

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Feedback is welcome. Please email the writer at You can find these origamists’ work and contacts on Facebook at .

Sarjigami: ‘My favorite subjects are mythical creatures’

Paulo Alcazaren: How did you get started and how long have you been doing origami?

SARJ: I started this hobby six years ago as an alternative to my first love, sculpting. Material for sculpture is very expensive in the Philippines, so I incorporated sculpting in origami.

This Red Dragon guards Sarj's collection

What is your favorite animal to make?

I love all land animals, but my favorite subjects are mythical creatures, anime characters and popular characters from manga.

Sarj's brown dragon could make it to Game of Thrones.

How much time do you spend on your hobby?

I usually spend 10 to 14 hours on each model.

The Blue Wolf completes Sarj's menagerie.

How has origami helped you cope with the quarantine?

Origami has always been a great escape for me, but in this quarantine it has also become my stress reliever.  I also decided to share it with everyone via YouTube (SarjigamiOrigami).

Where do you get your folding paper?

Usually from National Book Store or SM, but for special paper I go to Divisoria. I’ve also been recycling paper bags to be eco-friendly.

Earl has been folding origami for 19 years.

Earl Calapatia: ‘Hope is my message’

How did you get started and how long have you been doing origami?

EARL CALAPATIA: It's been a magical 19 years. In school, a friend showed me a paper bird. She pulled the tail. It flapped its wings as if it was alive. That same year, my parents gave me an origami book for my birthday. It inspired me to pursue a life of art and mathematics.

The three-headed crane embodies Taoist principle.

What is your favorite subject to make?

My creations embody the concepts of life, wisdom, emotion and humanism. Wings express freedom. Dragons give wisdom and empowerment. The phoenix inspires second chances. The three-headed crane embodies my Taoist principles. Roses and flowers go to my significant other.

The Pegasus took Earl eight years to perfect.

How much time do you spend on your hobby?

I balance career and art, both my passions. I start thinking about a concept, which I then take into design, into anatomy, and finally into math. Actual folding can range from one hour to two days. I designed and folded my Rhino in an hour, my Pegasus in eight years.

Earl's winged creatures symbolize freedom.

How has origami helped you cope with the quarantine?

Hope is my message. Origami is my way of facing life's hurdles before, during and after the pandemic. I take my feelings — love, isolation, unrest, grief — and translate that energy into imagery that inspires joy, provokes the mind, and excites the child inside us. The message of my work is not to escape from the pains of life, but to renew hope, face reality and reflect on our actions.

Where do you get your folding paper?

An inspired mind can find material anywhere. I use placemats from cafes, old newsprint and package wrappings. I don't buy paper from art stores unless the concept demands it.

Riel gravitates towards geometric forms.

Riel Amadeus Diala: ‘Origami is a way to create works that amaze and inspire without leaving home’

When did you start and how long have you been an origamist?

RIEL DIALA: After exams one year in preschool, my parents and I went to Glorietta to celebrate and ended up in Goodwill bookstore, where they bought me some origami books. I started with simple models, but I was able build my skills. As the years went by, I got to do more complex origami from designs I found on the internet. I eventually graduated to my own designs.

Riel’s creations would make great architecture.

What is your favorite animal or subject to make??

I tend to gravitate toward geometric forms such as stars, tessellations, polyhedra, and kusudama (flower balls), among others. These have a certain appeal to me, which may have been from my interest in architecture, which I pursued in college.

How much time do you spend on your hobby??

It would range from a couple of minutes to hours for my more complicated works. Designing, on the other hand, is a different subject. To finalize a design may take a few hours, but it is a result of days of trials and edits to make sure the design is properly composed.

Riel's creations defy complicated formulae.

How has origami helped you cope with the quarantine??

Origami is a way for me to create numerous works that amaze and inspire others without leaving my home.

Yellow blooms in paper are almost like the real thing.

Where do you get your folding paper??

When I was young, I used colored paper, printer paper and cartolina rolls from any bookstore. Later, relatives would send me beautiful origami paper from abroad, and I was able to purchase them myself during a school-related trip in Japan. However, I always make it a point to use ordinary paper and recycled materials when I can.

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