Pinoy Bloggers take on The New Normal

It has been more than three months since the pandemic has essentially turned our worlds upside down.

As we waited for quarantines to be lifted and restrictions to be loosened, many of us found ourselves willing time to hurry up so things can get back to normal.

But we can’t really go back to the way things used to be, right? Not when the threat of COVID-19 or any future communicable health risk still looms.

Hence, the emergence of The New Normal. While businesses re-open and people are more frequently moving about, the following principles still apply:

  • Increased importance of personal hygiene
  • Practice of physical distancing
  • Focus of all activities in the home
  • Transition of most interactions to digital

To help ease the way towards The New Normal, several Filipino bloggers have taken it upon themselves to broach topics relevant to the transition. They create content to guide, inspire or entertain as we all grapple with the changes to our way of life.

Keepin’ Fit and Healthy

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of one’s health. We have seen how this viral infections has wreaked havoc, not only on one’s physical well-being, but also on one’s finances and social interactions. Also, keeping fit has become challenging for many with exercising outside the home and in the gym no longer among the options available. It is no wonder, then, that bloggers have chosen to dwell on how to maintain one’s health and fitness during this time.

Ces Dimalanta of Manila Millennial, for instance, guides her readers on how to conduct a COVID-19 self assessment using FightCOVID.app.

Prevention is better than cure so it’s good that we continue monitoring ourselves if we develop symptoms, but at the moment, there’s just so much strain on medical workers and doing a self-check is the least that we can do to help. – Manila Millennial

Dale Palisoc of The Little Binger, on the other hand, shares a list of free apps and websites on home workouts that can help his bingers to keep on track with their health goals.

We spent every single day at home because we are restricted and it is not safe… But you know what it is not healthy to stay stagnant. We still have to keep on moving. The big question, however, is how to do it? Especially now that gyms are closed and it is terrifying to jog outside… – The Little Binger

Home is the place to be… stuck in?

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

The home emerged as the safest place to be in, but, as most of us discovered, it is not always the most comfortable or the most entertaining. People who are used to going out and having a social life now find themselves isolated. Families who used to just see each other at dinnertime or on weekends now spend the whole day in each other’s company. The problem that arose from these scenarios is how to while away the time while “stuck” at home? These bloggers may have just the answer.

Nicole San Miguel of Living Beyond Style, Wendyflor Palomo of Wendyflor.com and Mikhaela Adarve of Youthsoloartsy.com, all give their own takes on how one can make the most of the time at home resulting from the quarantine.

Community quarantine may be a disorientating experience, especially for those of us who are used to spending most of our time outside the house. But, it’s also essential to look on the bright side, while channeling our energy into some productive activities. – Living Beyond Style

Beyond my motherhood duties to my two sons, I have come to appreciate the time I have: to do things I have always wanted to do but never got to, because I have always put them aside. – Wendyflor.com

Don’t forget to smile and be positive regardless of what situation you are in. One creative hobby helps us a lot to be more productive and manage our mental health to lessen the stress level. Despite the current situation, it always good to remember you got the passion to do things right and be the right person to deliver results to continue your undeniably creative hobby. – Youthsoloartsy

How can we get our hands on those food!

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

Anybody who knows me also knows that the enjoyment of good food is central to my happiness. When the community quarantine was implemented, my foodie friends and I worried about our favorite restos, and rightfully so. The restaurant industry was among the most badly hit by the pandemic and the resulting lockdown with the reduced clientele, lack of manpower and rising overhead costs putting a huge strain on their finances.

Those who were able to pivot their operations to be viable by making their food available for pickup or delivery stand a chance at surviving in The New Normal.

Plus, for those who are not used to cooking their own food, having tasty and easily accessible food options will make the quarantine restrictions seem not as harsh.

Since the start of the quarantine, I have featured noteworthy dishes from these establishments which can now be enjoyed at home. If you have time, do check out my posts on Fresh Takes on Filipino Food for Araw ng Kalayaan and Extraordinary Sushi for International Sushi Day.

So, what’s next?

Bloggers Take On The New Normal

Through all the difficulties we faced due to the pandemic, we are buoyed by the hope that someday it will end. When that day comes, we need to be prepared on what do do.

Ivan Jose of Ivan + Khris’ Travels gives advice to would-be travelers on how to travel safely and hassle-free.

Practice social distancing as much as you can. When exploring city centers and parks, take cycling tours instead of walking tours or bus tours. Cycling presents the least risk of coming into close contact with other tourists. Plus, cycling is great for your health at any time! – Ivan + Khris’ Travels

GV Caplas of Wandering Good Vibes presents a 30-day challenge to her readers to divert them from their worries and anxieties.

#30DayNewNormalChallenge aims to help citizens face this New Normal phenomenon. This will allow us to just live day-by-day unaware that we have adapted positively with this universal change. – Wandering Good Vibes

Karla Obispo of Travel with Karla, on the other hand, provides a playbook on how to be a decent person in the time of COVD-19 which I think still applies into The New Normal.

There are many ways on how to be a good citizen in the time of COVID-19. I hope you choose to be one. – Travel with Karla

Navigating the way into a new set of circumstances, norms and environments as a result of COVID-19 may seem daunting, but be assured, your blogger friends are with you ready to share what we can to guide, inspire or entertain you into The New Normal.

Many thanks to my fellow bloggers for contributing to this post!

Photo Credits:
Header photo by Sarah Killian on Unsplash
Health and Fitness photo by Cathy Pham on Unsplash
Home Life photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash
Food photo by Victor He on Unsplash
Beyond photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

San Fernando, Pampanga keeps the tradition of handcrafting Christmas lanterns alive

San Fernando, the provincial capitol of Pampanga, is a bustling city that houses the provincial presence of some of the country’s largest retail outlets, financial firms, restaurant chains, manufacturing companies and more. The city also plans to further expand the modernization of its infrastructure and services.

Despite its drive towards modernization, the city also stays true to its roots as the home of Christmas Lanterns, as manifested by its support to its handcrafted parol industry. San Fernando Pampanga’s parol makers are known for their grandiose creations: colorful and ornately patterned lanterns which light up and blink in cheery rhythms. Largely because of this, San Fernando, Pampanga has been hailed by CNN as “Asia’s Christmas capital.”

The Kapampangan tradition of handcrafting lanterns can be dated back to the 16th century when the Augustinian friars started the practice of holding processions honoring the town’s patron saints leading to the cathedral. This practice coincides with the Misa de Gallo, or dawn masses held for nine days leading to Christmas. The processions would later evolve and become locally known as Lubenas.

During these processions, the candles held by the devout would sometimes get blown out by the hanging amihan (cool northeast wind). The enterprising Kapampangans took to covering their candles to protect the flames from the breeze, thus making them lanterns. And since Kapampangans are also characterized by their appreciation for beauty, joy, grandiosity and pomp, the lanterns grew in size and complexity of design as the years went by. They evolved from being made of simple bamboo and other indigenous materials to incorporating dancing lights as well as the use of colored plastics and fiberglass in the design.

This interesting origin story of the parol was retold by Rolando Quiambao, the lantern maker/designer behind RolRen’s Lanterns and General Merchandise. The parols of this home-grown business have enjoyed not only national, but also worldwide acclaim. If you chanced upon the bombastic parols used during the Metro Manila Filmfest or those gracing the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), chances are, these were supplied by RolRen’s.

RonRel’s also produces lanterns for Saipan, Korea, Guam, Taiwan, Palau and more. While its products geared towards the international market retain the Kapampangan parol at their core, the execution of these lanterns reflect the culture of the country they are going to. Palau-bound lanterns, for instance, depict the nipa huts and boats used in local culture.

Recently, RolRen’s supplied San Fernando’s Heroes Hall with colorful life-size depictions of the Paskong Kapampangan (Christmas in Pampanga).

RonRel’s has also incorporated innovations in parol into its parol design. Its designers worked with computer programmers to facilitate choreographed blinking of the parol’s various lights via rotors, for example. Previously, these lights were manipulated using on/off switches.

Mr. Quiambao shares other interesting snippets of trivia as well. Did you know that what sets the Kapampangan parol apart from other Christmas lanterns are its component parts which are steeped in tradition? These are:

  • The middle portion called the tambol (base drum) so named because its round shape resembles that of the drum
  • The star-shaped portion after the tambol is the pito-siko, named after the way the star’s corners resemble bent elbows
  • Surrounding the star is the palimbon from the Kapampangan word for procession that circles the town on the way to the cathedral
  • The outer layer is called the ponteta, from the Kapampangan word punta, which refers to it being the final component of the parol.

The artisans of RolRen’s don’t have a monopoly of Kapampangan parol-enthusiasm either.

With the approach of the holiday season, amateur lantern makers from various barangays in the city are gearing up for this year’s Giant Lantern Festival. Already on its 110th year, the festival displays the artistry and passion the Kapampangans have for their parols as representatives from participating barangays contruct lanterns up to 20 feet tall to compete with those from other barangays.

Barangay San Jose, in particular, is represented by the Ambrosio family, the only team that has a female lantern-maker, Mary Anne Torres. (The lantern makers of the other contest entries this year are all male.)

This year’s entry from San Jose will reach up to 19.8 feet and will requires 10,000 lightbulbs.

Barangay San Jose’s last win in the Giant Lantern Festival was in 1991. Their winning piece was later displayed during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Giant Lantern Festival Competition will be held at the Robinsons Starmills on December 15, 6pm at the Robinsons Starmills. Participating barangays include Calulut, Del Carmen, Del Pilar, San Jose, San Juan, San Nicolas, San Pedro, Sindalan, Sta. Lucia, Sto. Nino and Telabastagan.

Want to take part in this fun and light-filled event as well as check out the local delights that San Fernando, Pampanga has to offer? Check out these packages centered around the competition night from tour operators accredited by the city government:

M.A.G. Travel & Tours

  • Tour Highlights: Giant Lantern Grand Competition Night, visit and learn how to make giant lanterns, Kapampangan cookery and food crawl, learning indigenous ways of preparing and cooking meals, a visit to the Sunken Church of San Guillermo Parish, a visit to the San Fernando Train Station
  • Rate (with overnight stay ay Imerex Hotel): Php5,650 (single)/Php4,280 (twin)
  • Contact Details: +63 2 3598699; +63 045 4995139; +63 917 6311459; +63 920 1172333; and +63 923 4258888

Don’t Skip Manila

  • Tour Highlights: Early Buffet Dinner of heirloom Kapampangan recipes; lantern-making workshop and factory tour; Giant Lantern Festival Show
  • Rate: Php2,000 pax
  • Contact Details: dontskipmanila@gmail.com

CultureShockPH

  • Tour Highlights: Early Buffet Dinner of heirloom Kapampangan recipes; lantern-making workshop and factory tour; Giant Lantern Festival Show
  • Rates: Php3,000 (discounts will apply for multi-person booking, students and children age 12 and below)
  • Contact Details: +63 917 7146737 (Osep Reyes)
  • LQM Travel
    • Package Inclusions: round trip transportation (pick up from Clark or Angeles); entrance to Clark Museum and VIP Seat at the Giant Lantern Exhibition; Lunch and Dinner; Souvenir T-Shirt and Licensed Tour Guide
      Rate: Php3,000 (discounts will apply for multi-person booking)
      Contact Details: +63 045 3311036; +63 045 3311356; +63 906 0660521; or +63 919 8744984
  • Disclosure: Together with other bloggers, I participated in a tout and food crawl sponsored by the city government of San Fernando, Pampanga. The experiences and food served were not paid for by the attendees including myself.