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Say hello to this LGBTQIA-themed tarot deck

Introducing the Rainbow Seekers Tarot, what Henson Wongaiham describes as “a testament of the LGBTQIA people – our triumphs, adversities, and our quest to love and be loved.” It can be used for divination, meditation, self-reflection, or even for fun.

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“Creating an LGBTQIA- themed tarot deck was never part of my life plan,” said Henson Wongaiham, a certified tarot master and advertising professional from Manila. Instead, there was this “unexpected yet seemingly divine development which I boldly decided to pursue.”

But Henson said that it was always “a personal struggle of mine to find an inclusive tarot deck that I can fully resonate with.” And though the physical deck may have taken almost a year to create, this may actually have been a work-in-progress for decades.

And so introducing the Rainbow Seekers Tarot, what Henson describes as “a testament of the LGBTQIA people – our triumphs, adversities, and our quest to love and be loved.” It can be used for divination, meditation, self-reflection, or even for fun. There are no set rules to using this deck. 

GUIDED FOR TRANSFORMATION

In the development of the Rainbow Seekers Tarot, Henson said he did not hesitate to seek help when he felt the need. 

“I consulted on art, since I don’t consider myself an artist and I can’t draw to save my life. I also sought help to edit the guidebook. Furthermore, I sought the help of my spirit guides to transform seemingly basic shapes and colors into art as an instrument of empowerment,” he said.

And the collaborative effort shows, helping make these cards different from those already out in the market.

“Generally, where a lot of tarot and oracle cards have complex, detailed, and mind-blowing artwork, the Rainbow Seekers Tarot took the minimalist, graphic route. It used preset shapes and colors to form powerful images that capture how I personally understand the tarot. Somehow, despite the minimalist design, the cards are still extra open to interpretation,” Henson said.

True to its name, though, “what makes this deck unique is how it incorporates Pride flags into the card designs while still trying to convey the traditional meaning of the tarot card.”

There’s also a tribute to the Philippines in one of the cards, too, since this is a proudly Filipino-made deck. 

DEALING WITH INTERSECTION 

The fact is, there’s an analogy – in a manner of speaking, i.e. the use of tarot cards remains non-mainstream, just as the LGBTQIA community as a whole is also still largely misunderstood. 

For Henson, “there is definitely an intersection. Imagine, two taboo topics in one Rainbow Seekers Tarot: 1) Tarot, which, for some, are still believed to be evil, and 2) LGBTQIA, which admittedly, is merely tolerated and not accepted. Bingo na Bingo, di ba?”

But for him, that these are seen as “taboo” at all “are products of colonization and the patriarchal system that came with it.” And “we must learn to unlearn.”

Henson added: “We need to start having these conversations to educate people that: 1) Tarot is not evil; It can be used as a tool for empowerment; and 2) LGBTQIA people are not abominations; we are people worthy of love.”

True to its name, though, “what makes this deck unique is how it incorporates Pride flags into the card designs while still trying to convey the traditional meaning of the tarot card.”

GRAB, GRAB, GRAB

There is no need to be part of the LGBTQIA community, or be a tarot reader to be able to use this deck.

“We’re all seeking our own rainbow. Anyone can use the Rainbow Seekers Tarot to empower him/her/them to find his/her/their own rainbow, whatever it may be,” Henson ended.

The Rainbow Seekers Tarot comes with a bonus “When Oracle: Rainbow Edition”, which was done in collaboration with Ledz Lim. The basic set (Rainbow Seekers Tarot plus a bonus When Oracle: Rainbow Edition) cost PhP1,234. 

The Rainbow Seekers Tarot also has special sets with crystals, spell jar, candle and bracelet – all rainbow themed. These magical rainbow items are from Chakras.ph, Eclectic Femina PH, Marikit MNL Candle Co., and House of Mystics

For information or to order, head to IG: @king.of.rainbows.

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FFTG as a must-visit cafe… and safe space in Quezon City

Introducing FFTG (Food For The Gays), a new safe space for LGBTQIA people located in Quezon City.

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FFTG – or Food For The Gays, a play at dessert “food for the gods” – wants to be seen as more than just a community café, Instead, said FFTG co-owners (and partners in life) Chippy Abando and Nariese Giangan, this is a place where you – LGBTQIA people, and even those who are not – can be who you are without fearing to be judged. In a gist: a safe space.

“This isn’t common,” said Chippy. What we usually have as spaces for LGBTQIA people are bars, so “maiba naman yung meeting place (here’s a different meeting place).” This is particularly since “not everyone (goes out to) drink, or go dancing.” There are some who prefer to be in a place more conducive for meetings, for that first date, etc so that “malaking bagay na nagkaroon tayo ng community safe space (in FFTG).”

Nariese used to sell pastries online, around April 2020. Then this February, just as Chippy celebrated her birthday, they opened the physical venue.

With FFTG – and even if the name denotes members of the LGBTQIA community – “there’s no specific market targeted,” said Nariese, stressing that everyone is welcome here.

But Nariese said two things are worth highlighting here.

On one hand, they believe that creating a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA community pays off because “we believe in the pink peso.” This point’s worth stressing because when the pandemic happened, many venues closed, including LGBTQIA venues; and “for sure, particularly after the pandemic, there’d be yearning to be in another safe space.”

On the other hand, “we believe in our products.” Meaning, what they offer do not just look good in the menu; they’re actually tasty. Meaning, too, what they have “are something (we’re excited) to share.”

BIZ COUPLE

Opening a business with a partner – or even with others – can be challenging, admitted Nariese. But what makes it easier is they are at a point where “we both already know what we want.”

Nariese and Chippy

Besides, for Chippy, it helps that this has become a real partnership – i.e. they complement each other. Nariese, for instance, oversees food-related concerns; while Chippy focuses on the beverages. That they can help each other out as needed in their areas of focus is just a plus.

MUST-TRY CHOWS

The menu – albeit short – contains various offerings.

For the food, consider:
-Pasta a la Carbonara (P150)
-Spaghetti alla Chitarra (P160)
-Pesto Pasts with Grilled Cajun Chicken (P180)
-Margherita pizza (P160)
-Meat Lover’s (P190)
-FFTG Special (P220)
-Banh Mi (lemongrass beef, chicken satay, char siu pork, P115-P150)

For the drinks, consider:
-Thai iced tea (P80)
-Iced drinks (mocha latte, coffee shakerato, cafe au lait, coffee creamery, from P80-P110)
-Hot chocolate (P70-P90)

If you’re in the mood to try something… rainbow-inspired, try the Rainbow Grilled Sandwich, which is, basically, grilled bread with rainbow-colored cheese fillings. That it doesn’t taste “fake cheese” is definitely a plus.

FOCUS ON EXPERIENCE

All in all, “it’s about the experience,” said Nariese. There are many places where you can eat pasta, pizza, etc but “it feels different if you eat them here. That’s a big part of it.”

Because here, added Chippy, no one will swear at you, you won’t feel ostracized, there’s no prejudice, and it’s safe. Meaning, “you’d enjoy your food while enjoying people’s company,” she said. – WITH MICHAEL DAVID dela Cruz TAN

FFTG is located at 58 13th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila. For more information, head to their Facebook account or Instagram page.

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The must-have scented candles of Candle La Vie

When Cyramae Ubaldo started planning her own wedding, a thought came to her – i.e. that scented candles would be great souvenirs NOT just for wedding, but for any events. And so Candle La Vie came into being as a one-stop candle biz.

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When Cyramae Ubaldo started planning her own wedding, a thought came to her – i.e. that scented candles would be great souvenirs NOT just for wedding, but for any events. And so Candle La Vie came into being as a one-stop candle biz.

For Cyramae, two things make Candle La Vie different from those already in the market.

On one hand, its candles are scented from soy wax that are “vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic and paraffin-free”, making them “good for the planet and good for you.”

On the other hand – and to better this – the goods actually sell cheaper than others, since – Cyramae said – “the main purpose for this business is to become an affordable souvenir or giveaway source; and as everyone would agree, we really don’t want to spend that much on souvenirs/giveaways.”

There are four therapeutic aromas available, all of them able to “liven up your space to help you  relax after a long day,” Cyramae said. “These vibrant fragrances are not only delightful to bask in but also have amazing holistic benefits for your mental health.”

The aromas available are:

  1. Cafe (mood booster)
  2. Anglaise Lavande (anxiety relief) 
  3. Bamboo Frais (mind and body relaxation)
  4. Vanille (calming/relieves nausea) 

The goods sell from P209 for 100ml.

For those who want to get in touch with Candle La Vie, head to Facebook or Instagram.

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How a century-old guitar business strikes a chord in the modern market

Throughout the years, Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafters has been among the most trusted names in the industry. It consistently grows its following by providing value added services such as making custom-built pieces, repairs, and new string instruments like ukuleles.

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For many generations, the guitar-making industry of Cebu has been thriving, reflecting people’s undying love for music. Customers have come from far and wide to own a Cebu-made guitar, regarded for its superb sound and playability.  

Steve Dagoc, marketing manager of the Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafter, recounts how it all began. “It was the Spaniards who first settled in Cebu that passed on the art and skill of guitar-making to Filipinos. In 1919, my grandfather ventured into making handcrafted instruments.”

The love for the craft never left the family, as Steve’s father was a classical guitar player in the University of San Jose-Recoletos varsity team before it was his turn to run the shop. He saw distinction in their products and recognized the potential in elevating their craft.

The business began formally operating in the 70s under the name “Custom Guitar” in Lincoln Street, Cebu City. By the late 80s and 90s, they moved to a location that couldn’t be any better – a popular tourist destination and the province’s guitar-making capital, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.  Grounded in musical expertise and the vision to capture a greater market, the Dagoc family rebranded the shop and called it – Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafter – a portmanteau of Steve’s parent’s names: Fernando and Angelita.  The business not only produced high quality instruments for music lovers but also income opportunities for skilled luthiers in the area.

Continuing the legacy

Throughout the years, Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafters has been among the most trusted names in the industry. It consistently grows its following by providing value added services such as making custom-built pieces, repairs, and new string instruments like ukuleles. 

Steve emphasizes the importance of using the best quality of wood to produce the best quality instruments. With the country’s rich natural resources, it’s no surprise that locally made Cebu guitars have a strong competitive edge. “A few years ago, it was rare to find mango-wood guitars in the United States. They couldn’t even believe that it could be made into great-sounding instruments.” 

“Mango wood produces warm and mellow tones while Jackfruit makes bright tones. We also have a Gel-Series guitar collection, made of Narra plywood, a more affordable option, but still made of fine quality solid wood. We pay close attention to the assembly of our instruments because there are many factors that affect sound quality.”  

Marching to a new beat

The young entrepreneur also continues to strengthen their online presence and has found a dependable logistics provider in FedEx. 

FedEx understands that shipping guitars comes with a specific set of standards to ensure their pristine condition. The instruments are packed in specially made hard cases that must be kept in low humidity packaging and be able to withstand temperature changes once it leaves the Philippines and journeys to other countries. FedEx is no stranger to shipping curious items that require special handling like turtle eggs, wine, and even white tigers.

“To compete in the global arena, we have to constantly revamp our operations to keep up with the times. We have been exporting for quite some time now. Customers are recognizing our brand and inquiring through emails. While we became known by word-of-mouth, I know that’s not enough.”

Ferangeli’s foray into online retail was marked by a static website, containing only basic product information. Now, that website has evolved into an e-commerce platform that is able to seamlessly deliver the gift of music around the world, exporting to customers in Switzerland, France, and the United States. As Ferangeli ramps up to cater to growing cross border sales, they trust FedEx to provide logistics solutions and tools

“Fedexenables us to easily manage our deliveries and determine the right shipping rates for our customers through the FedEx Ship Manager and Billing Online.”

FedEx has a network built for what’s next and is able to support SMEs to go global even in shifting global trade patterns. Visit the FedEx LinkedIn page  to get inspired by the success stories of entrepreneurs and enterprises across the Asia Pacific region.

Experience the legacy of world-class craftsmanship and witness how Cebu’s Ferangeli explores new genres, and more on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

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