Loves born during the lockdown
‘Woman of Steel’ Alice Eduardo created a garden during lockdown.

Loves born during the lockdown

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 5, 2021 - 12:00am

Like those who have lived through a war, we, the survivors of the Year 2020 have a multitude of stories to tell. War stories. We have fought battles on different fronts and our hearts cry out for those crushed by the loss of loved ones on the battlefield.

We rise from where we have fallen, dust the glass shards off our knees, and count our blessings. Oh, our blessings outnumber the shards.

Though the COVID-19 death count worldwide is heart-rending, many have survived. A 90-year-old relative did, and she even gave us quezo de bola for Christmas, with a perky, handwritten note.

The world that has enabled COVID-19 to spread fast (a world with no borders, so that an infected person can transmit the virus to the other side of the equator in less than a day) has also enabled the formulation of a vaccine against COVID-19 that hopefully will make this world safer again, though it will never be the same.

And like me, many have unearthed gifts during the quarantine, the silver lining in the lockdown cloud, enabling us to savor the “power of pause.”  Busy businessman Ton Concepcion says that working from home during the pandemic has gifted him with an extra 60 days from time saved from being stuck in traffic.

The world’s longest lockdown (a distinction said to be held by the Philippines) has given the “Woman of Steel,” Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. president and CEO Alice Eduardo the chance to grow a lush garden under her very watchful eyes. “Plants give me happiness. They help me de-stress,” Alice told me as she supervised the arrangement of plants in her sprawling garden, much like she would supervise the building of a power plant. Very hands-on. Except that this time, she was building edifices of greens and bridges of vines. “This is one of my favorites,” she points to a leafy plant, identifying it as the “Wave of Love.”

“When it is stabilized, it is easy to care for, and it thrives,” she adds. Much like many things in life, says the “Woman of Steel.”


Hotel owner Tina Cuevas

If there are “Plantitas of Manila,” there are also “Platitas of Manila.” Sulu Riviera Hotel owner Tina Cuevas, even if she cannot entertain like she used to, loves making her table always fit for guests.

“My love for tableware and tablescapes dates back to when I was still living in Spain. I would collect plates, cutlery, trays, and other knickknacks I could use to add color and spice to our dinner table.

“I found joy decorating for gatherings and meals shared at home with friends and family. Personally, I found it more conducive to set the mood for a relaxing and beautiful get together when the dinner table is set pretty. I like playing around with natural colors and elements — fresh florals, dried leaves and twigs from the garden; sometimes fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables could make good table décor, too! To add height and light, I use candles on candelabra and glass jars. For the dinnerware, I gravitate towards colorful prints. You just need to let your creativity flow! Just make sure not to overdo it,” says Tina.

Her orchardthemed tablescape.

Aissa Barrera Cojuangco has always loved fixing tables, and her love for doing so was enhanced during the lockdown.

“I became a platita during the pandemic because I missed entertaining family and friends at home. I’ve always enjoyed setting up the table using various themes based on the menu served and I love letting my imagination go ‘wild’ in dressing up the table with items on hand — dinnerware, placemats, napkins, tablecloth, and chargers.

Aissa Barrera- Cojuangco

“Making the effort and taking the time to create these tablescapes make my family feel important and the appreciation they express makes me very happy.  It influences the tone of being together as a family, one of the good things that came out of this pandemic,” says Aissa.

Her favorite al fresco table setting.


Real estate executive Karen Nell Loleng Parungo can get you “off the hook” with her new venture, Off the Hook. You guessed it, the venture revolves around a crochet needle and she has put a spin to it.

“I had so much time de-cluttering during the pandemic and chanced upon Mommy’s (Nellie Mayor Loleng’s) old crochet projects. They ranged from tablecloth, coasters, glass holders, doilies and napkin rings. It was the perfect time to revisit the crochet skills that I learned from St. Theresa’s College. I was glad that everything was online and it helped refresh my memory. I started with napkin rings and I was glad because crocheting helped me de-stress and find something to do during the sleepless nights brought about by the pandemic. I gave my first products to my relatives and close friends during Christmas. I am beginning to have small orders now and created an FB page called Off the Hook and IG page, offthehook_mnl. My daughter, Maniya, helped out in branding it.”

Karen Nell Loleng Parungo

If plantscapes, tablescapes and other artistic endeavors were born during the pandemic, listen to this — obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Rebecca Singson said that there has been a rise in pregnancies even among her infertility patients during the past nine months!

And outside her own practice, she says, “There is an expected increase of about half a million unplanned pregnancies in the Philippines due to the pandemic.”

I guess, even in love and war, peacetime and pandemics, there will always be a need to create … and well, procreate.

Conquered sleepless nights during lockdown by doing crochet.

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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