December 8, 2023

Stella Maria L. de Guia
Our indomitable spirit lives on. You can never be defeated as long as you have the will to survive outside of your comfort zone and with God’s help. Nothing is permanent in life. And so, with the Covid-19 pandemic, I have chosen five people who have made a turnaround and reinvented themselves. It is all about reawakening our passion.Whether it be: to make people smile, to help, to be busy, to earn income, to look and feel good, to inspire, to heal and be well or to keep on hoping and moving forward.
RJ: From a sound, lights, rigging and video systems contractor to woodworking.
Let me start with RJ. His full name Ryan Jerome Orito Lu, only son of Janet Orito Lu and brother of Sheryll Romagosa. He was a sound, lights, rigging and video systems contractor but has turned to woodworking and other home improvement services during the pandemic.
“With the entertainment industry put on hold, it rendered my business non-operational for the moment, I started doing woodworks at home last April to keep me busy,” says this young successful entrepreneur. “With this pandemic and lockdown, I gathered all my old tools and started to make furniture for our house.”
He posted his works on Facebook; soon friends and other people started to notice his works. Shortly, he got his first order for a skateboard ramp. Then orders came for bookshelves and plant stands. By mid of June, RJ had so many orders, he had to solicit the help of his technical staff who were jobless but willing to learn new skills. He trained them for three weeks and voila! He was able to convert his former DJs, lightsmen, riggers and sound technicians to woodwork craftsmen capable of safely operating woodworking powertools, thus producing quality crafts.
“I chose woodworks as my fallback since this is how I really started wayback in the 90s, when I first made my sound system speaker enclosures,” states this young man who rediscovered his passion. “Besides, my heart really goes out to all my staff workers, who are jobless at the moment because of the pandemic. I tried to support all of them but realized that I could not do it forever. I had to think of something else. Believe me, I tried different kinds of businesses to survive, even to the point of selling face masks which were in demand. But God is really faithful. With this woodworking business, God gave me a way to sustain their everyday salaries. My gratitude goes to everyone who supported me, my people and their families. This opportunity gave them hope.”
Araceli Tambol: From tourism faculty to baker.
Next, in my list, is Maria Araceli Diaz Tambol, friends call her Ace . She is a member of the Saint Louis University Hospitality and Tourism Management (SLUHTM) faculty.
She was my former tourism student who is now a mentor herself. Ace belonged to the cream of the crop. Intelligent and articulate, Ace was a scholar sent to Japan. I wish she would also make sushi and other Japanese gourmet food. I first saw her posting also on Facebook offering my favorite desserts, maja blanca and palitaw. Since, it would be hard to make these desserts myself, I asked Ace if I can order and if she delivers. I found out she did. I also asked her what she was doing at the moment, since school was still out.
“We opened a small business named Sagid’s Sweets, after our youngest son Sagid,” explainsAce. “We are homebased and we offer delivery services. We started selling last June. Cristy, our babysitter, convinced us to market homemade sweets and desserts. She is really good. She tries new delicious dishes and so we gave it a try and offered it to the market. This experience made us learn and we would like to inspire othersto do it as well. We believe learning does not stop. It is a continuous process. My advice to others who want to venture out is, to not be afraid. Go out of your comfort zones. You will never know what you are still capable of, unless you try.”
Jeanette Damasig Thommes: From life and health insurance producer to special face mask creator
Baguio girl, Jeannette Damasig Thommes, now based in the U.S. makes special mask. She calls them “everlasting” mask. Jan is a tourism colleague, one of the very first employees of the Philippine Tourism Authority under our boss Ben Andaya. It is now known as Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). Her siblings are Liza Go, Jun Damasig and Beng Dipasupil.  She is a life andhealth insurance producer in the US, who specializes in Medicare coverage.
I asked Jeanette what started her in the face mask business during the pandemic. “My daughter runs a large hospice in Arizona,” explains this pretty lady who is also a hobbyist photographer. ”She asked me to make face masks for her staff. Added to this, my son also works in a hospital, so I understood the importance of mask-making. I also wanted to help and to educate my local community on the need to wear a mask when they are outside of their homes. I then began to expand mask-making to sell to friends and clients. This endeavor supported my efforts to provide masks for those who needed them the most. I am still focused on educating people on medicare and their medicare options.” As a result, Jan continues to make face masks for front liners (nurses, hospital workers, aged care and hospice workers) especially when Covid shut down her city. She does this from home and makes special deliveries when necessary. Most of the orders are mailed.
“When I started to do face mask, it was really about my passion to help, to protect, to make people smile, to feel good and to look good as well, “continues Jeanette. “I found a market that needed my product, this pave the way for me to also help and support others and my local community, especially our frontliners.”
Maggie Bacoco: From entrepreneur and farmer to baker
Margarita “Maggie” Bacoco’s lemon pie from Sagada, Mountain Province is something to crave for. It is delicious and just right. I also saw the lemon pie on Facebook when Grace Bandoy, a relative, posted it. I wanted to know the difference in taste of a calamansi pie from a lemon pie, so I asked Grace who makes them. Maggie is an entrepreneur -baker. She is also into farming. “I still bake at home and take orders if there are any. Some orders are being delivered up to Baguio for now with the limited transportation,” says Maggie. “I have been baking just for family consumption at first. However, other people who have tasted the lemon pie started to order so I baked some more and called it ‘Maggie’s lemon pie’. This hobby turned out as our source of income.” Maggie’s pie baking started when her office closed three years ago.
“I can say that this hobby or passion within us helps us to get through difficult circumstances. Baking during this pandemic is not only a source of income, but it keeps us busy, which is also good for our mental health.”
Cecilia Vergara: From housewife to baking entrepreneur
Cecilia Vergara or Celia is a housewife who turned to baking “kakanin” during this pandemic. She does it from home to earn extra income and to sustain her family and medical expenses. She started making kakanin last month. Celia advises mothers.
“To do what you are passionate about, to be patient and to enjoy what you are doing” Her bibingka with red eggs is a cross between bibingka, pudding and pancake. Its soft and super tasty.
So, there you are folks. We can always reinvent ourselves. Focus on our other talents. Life is how you make it. While the new normal directs us to stay at home. Stay at home we will, with a little business on the side to keep us going and to earn a little income. All features do home deliveries.