Which lockdown hobby took over your life?

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We look back at the many, many ways we turned to hobbies and other preoccupations to fill the void.

This is it. A whole year under community quarantine. I’m going to check my Instagram memories and find photos and videos of myself, doing all my silly little rituals, all from the same bedroom I am writing this article from. But it isn’t exactly the same. Between then and now, I’ve acquired a new desk, a lamp, an office chair, and an acrylic standee of the love of my life, Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd — the lonesome prince from the popular Switch game called “Fire Emblem: Three Houses.” From the corner of my eye, I can see my unfinished cross-stitch project, an endeavor I abandoned when I got busy with baking. And after gaining weight from taste-testing my own baked goods, I tried sweating it off with jump rope. I’m still not very good at it, but I am trying my best.

You can’t really recall the year that was without feeling a kind of mawing despair. What started out at first as a summer of postponed plans turned into a year of permanent changes. Unused ACE Water Spa coupons. Birthdays and holidays spent in lockdown. Favorite restaurants and coffee shops closed down for good. Zoom becoming the standard tool to facilitate so many of our once in-person interactions: work, hangouts, weddings, and even funerals.

I can look back at the year and trace it through 2020’s most harrowing events, but I can also look back at the many, many ways I turned to hobbies and other preoccupations to comfort and distract me from reality. It’s the way I deliberately turned to content like K-pop and anime to feel a sense of progression, especially during the days that seemed to drag on endlessly.

There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Only giving in fully to insanity. Below is a collection of 16 stories of the various hobbies that people picked up in lockdown as a way to cope with the world closing down, now that we’ve had all this time to be alone with ourselves.

"Biking became my sanity break! I used to go on dates by myself and I was able to do it again." Photo courtesy of MARLA DARWIN

Mobility is freedom
Marla Darwin, 35, graphic designer

My big reason for getting a bike was because I was getting cabin fever. I'm an introvert by nature and I get my energy by spending a lot of time by myself. During the earlier months of lockdown, it was just me, my husband, and my five-year-old daughter. It was a non-stop grind of chores, work, and childcare. The only person leaving the apartment for essential errands was my husband –– we have a car and he was the only one who drives. Prior to the pandemic, I got around the city using public transportation and ride-hailing apps. This was the first time where I was dependent on my husband for mobility because the government suspended mass transportation.

I figured getting a bike would combat my stir-craziness and this feeling of helplessness. I wanted to be able to cycle around the neighborhood to clear my thoughts, get fresh air, and clock in some exercise safely.

Biking became my sanity break! I used to go on dates by myself and I was able to do it again. I'd pack a book with me and I'd go to Greenfield park to just read on a bench. It figuratively and literally took me outside. It really helped my mental health to see all my usual haunts, even if it was from a bike saddle.

"This was the first time where I was dependent on my husband for mobility because the government suspended mass transportation." Photo courtesy of MARLA DARWIN

I also got fit. When I first started biking, I would be whining and breathing heavily biking up the inclines around my neighborhood of Highway Hills and Kapitolyo. You build strength quickly with cycling and I gradually found myself stretching the borders of my radius. Everything doesn't seem so far away now.

I badly missed exploring Metro Manila and I felt like I got to access this dormant part of me when I biked with my studiomates to Escolta, Manila or Banawe, QC. It's this part that delights in the mundane and feels in tune with people and community. Cycling altered how I interact with the world around me. It's a hobby that doesn't feel like a unique pandemic coping mechanism (like my cross-stitching or constant stress snacking). It will be a part of me as we move into the future, whatever it will look like.

"Crochet, I think, really saved my year." Photos courtesy of TETEL CUEVAS

Can crochet a whole wardrobe
Tetel Cuevas, 30, doctor

I started crochet when I got back to Manila from my deployment in Mindanao as a DTTB (Doctor to the Barrios). I had a traumatic event happen to me in the area and needed to be pulled out from the field quickly, essentially being ripped away from my friends and community. When I got back, I was looking for an outlet to help me get through the day — I had tried my other hobbies, but felt the need to learn something new. It felt like an exercise in retaking power. So I ordered my first set of yarn, and started learning. It started with a potholder, then a bralette, then quickly moved on to trying to make garments for myself: a skirt, a hat, a top. As I finished more projects, the more I was encouraged to learn. I really enjoyed looking at the work and pieces made by other people on Pinterest and online, and feeling like, “this is beautiful and hey I think I can do that too.” After a while, I started drowning in yarn! There’s a lot to learn that requires lots of trial and error. Working with one type of yarn produces very different items from others. The dyes used by one business for their yarn could be completely different from another. From a few rolls of local acrylic yarn, my room is now full of kilos of it in all kinds of colors. There’s yarn on my bed. Yarn beside my bed. Yarn in my car. On my shelves. I really need to stop buying and finish working with the ones I have haha.

Honestly, I’m still struggling a lot with the aftereffects of my trauma. From being on the frontlines in the rural areas, surrounded by nature and with a very clear sense of purpose, I had to adjust to being stuck at home in the city, where it felt like the days and weeks were melting into the next. I would often use crochet to center. It takes a lot of concentration! If you’re still learning, you often have to count the stitches per row, because the number and type of stitches dictates the shape of your garments. In my experience, it quiets my mind and allows me to center myself, sometimes it lets me zone out especially when I’m dealing with some pretty heavy things on a particular day. I appreciate that at the end of it, it results in feeling like I made something beautiful.When you look at a crochet piece, if you take time to appreciate it, you’ll recognize how much time and effort goes into them. I like giving it now to hopefully let the people special to me know I care about them even from afar.

Crochet, I think, really saved my year. The pandemic has so many effects, really — I think it has the potential to make you lose your sense of self as different aspects of what normal life used to be had to be stripped away. There were so many things I had to deal with, and for a while, I felt really lost. By allowing myself to center myself, it really helped me nurture my relationship with myself. Learning from scratch and improving has also reminded me of my own personal power — something I really needed reminding of.

"Before this hobby, I never imagined so many shades of blue could exist." Photos courtesy of ROSS TUGADE

Intensified fountain pen acquisition
Ross Tugade, 30, lawyer

The Killers asking, “It started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this?” approximates my relationship with fountain pens: from a random Platinum Preppy purchased for a law school exam, I am now an addicted collector owning about 50 pens and a storage box of inks. The attachment I have for my fountain pens is nothing short of a spiritual bond. I wrote my way through the Bar Examinations with three TWSBI Ecos, wrote about heartbreak with a Pilot Custom 74 as I sat alone in a Tokyo izakaya, and wrote so many letters with all my other pens.

Before this hobby, I never imagined so many shades of blue could exist.

A year in lockdown left so many of us mostly alone with our thoughts, from the most mundane to probing questions of survival. It was a welcome excuse to get my pens to work, journaling for my sanity’s sake and building my to-do lists for the day. I saw my pens more than writing implements — they transformed into tools of remembering. Writing the date on paper somehow eased me out of the existential mess that quarantine made of our sense of time.

Yet this could only be me looking for an excuse to justify the expense of the hobby, which I have been told not to do when I was still starting my collection. One of the biggest joys of my lockdown, though, was purchasing a black and gold Sailor Pro Gear II Slim for a fraction of its original price.

Sometimes I think I doomed myself into maintaining my interest and fascination with pens. These days, the only way out of the torment is to share it. I have “penabled” some of my friends in the past year. I would recommend which starter pen to get and with which brand and shade of ink. I imagine a community of correspondence and sharing of thoughts. This is why I still write letters. If we could rebuild the world on our own terms, why not begin with the stroke of a pen?

"For the first couple of months, I really tried to squeeze in all the practice I could get, even if it was just a 10-minute break from work." Photo courtesy of ELI UY

Roller-skating TikTok brought me here
Eli Uy, 25, community manager

It all started when I finally gave in and got on TikTok, as one does after not having left the house in x months. I was just scrolling one day when I saw a video of a girl on quad skates gliding on the sidewalk to "Jenny from the Block." My TikTok algorithm then started feeding me more roller skating videos and I just couldn't stop thinking about owning my own pair after that point!

I decided this was probably the best time to pick up new hobbies since I'd be at home for the foreseeable future, so I bought my very own pair of skates for my birthday. For the first couple of months, I really tried to squeeze in all the practice I could get, even if it was just a 10-minute break from work. These days I don't get to practice as much, but I still make it a regular part of my week.

I made an Instagram account just to document my skate progress, and pretty soon, I was pleasantly surprised to find that skaters from around the Metro had started following me. I even met a girl who lives in my village who just so happened to skate, too! They're incredibly supportive and welcoming, and I'm so glad to be making and meeting new friends, even virtually, thanks to my new hobby.

Screencap from MOXI SKATES

It's almost been a year since I first picked up my skates, and more than being just a fun hobby, I realized that it really helped me cope with the anxieties of a year in lockdown. Skating helps distract me from many difficult aspects of being stuck at home 24/7, and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment, which is hard to come by when you feel like your life has been put on hold indefinitely. These days, I've been eyeing a more advanced pair of skates to celebrate my 1st year of roller skating — also because I'm about to wear my current pair out! If you're feeling like the lockdown blues and general anxiety just aren't going away, I'm pretty confident that it's nothing a good pair of skates and knee pads can't fix!

"During the lockdown, streaming videos games or streaming anything basically has become the equivalent of going over to a friend’s house and just hanging out and watching them do whatever." Photo courtesy of JAKO DE LEON

Wrestler turned gamer
"Senyorito" Jake De Leon, 28, pro-Wrestler/streamer

Before the pandemic lockdown happened, I was a professional wrestler for PWR which used to have live monthly shows. Since the pandemic, all entertainment-based event gatherings were stopped including professional wrestling and I haven’t performed since February 2020.

In order to entertain and stay relevant to professional wrestling fans in the absence of shows, my tag team partner Ken Warren and I decided to put on these Instagram Live shows where we invited different wrestlers and entertainers from around the world who were also forced to stop their live shows. We decided to interview them in a series we called #PWOGLive.

We ran that for around half a year and during that time, I fell into the rabbithole of watching "Among Us" YouTube videos of personalities like Disguised Toast, Valkyrae, Pokimane, etc. Then I learned that they actually streamed these games live and a whole lot more. After Ken and I ended #PWOGLive, we decided to do our own thing and with that I just naturally gravitated towards streaming video games as a way to keep on entertaining people, staying relevant, and connecting with others basically.

"Since the pandemic, all entertainment-based event gatherings were stopped including professional wrestling and I haven’t performed since February 2020." Photo courtesy of JAKE DE LEON

I enjoy playing video games, talking, entertaining, and connecting with the people that do. I’ve always felt that during the lockdown, streaming videos games or streaming anything basically has become the equivalent of going over to a friend’s house and just hanging out and watching them do whatever. As the streamer, I’m the friend with the house that people go to and just chill out and watch whatever it is that I’m doing.

"Nakain na ako ng sistema kinalaunan. I binged 'Dark Blue Kiss,' 'Theory of Love,' 'Until We Meet Again,' 'TharnType,' 'Come To Me,' 'SOTUS' right after '2gether.'" Screencaps from GMMTV YOUTUBE/THARNTYPE THE SERIES YOUTUBE"

Leave me on Planet BL
Rye Quizon, 36, graphic artist, podcaster, EarthMix shipper

I avoided Thai BLs before the lockdown. A few years ago I saw a couple of episodes of “SOTUS” and the first “2moons” series. Did. Not. Like. Them. Ambagal ng build-up nila and I didn’t have the patience for it. Nakakafrustrate pa makita yung gawa nila, kasi tingin ko kayang-kaya natin pantayan, kundi man mahigitan pa. Wala gustong mag-invest dati kasi hindi pa nila nakikita yung demand. O nagbulag-bulagan lang, idk. 2020 came and I was proven right dun sa production quality! Partida pa yung balakid na pandemya ha!

Around April 2020, I heard about “2gether,” kalat kasi sa Twitter sina Sarawat at Tine. We’re in lockdown, so I had more time and patience than before. Pag-abot ko sa 2/4 ng episode 3, loooordt, tunawwww ako dun sa eksenang sinabayan ni Tine si Sarawat sa pagkanta ng “Cool” ng Scrubb for their music club homework. With matinding sulyapan! Parang MTV ng “More Than Words,” but sure tayo sa baklaan.

Nakain na ako ng sistema kinalaunan. I binged “Dark Blue Kiss,” “Theory of Love,” “Until We Meet Again,” “TharnType,” “Come To Me,” “SOTUS” (didn’t finish it still, sorry) right after “2gether.” Kailangan e, tapusin ba naman nila sa high-five lamang? WTH diba? My need for boy kilig was intense, pero iba din yung umay after. I had to step back, pour my time doing something else, like drawing (even animating) my fave BL scenes! At least may outlet na diba?

I continued exploring more BLs, in moderation this time. From Thailand and Philippines, naisama din ang Taiwan, Korea and Japan. It was my form of escapism. Ayoko mapanood yung mga bagay na nararanasan ko na. Kaya di ko masyadong bet ang “Gameboys” and “Boys’ Lockdown.” Yung mga nagustuhan ko naman made me aspire to a post-pandemic future na makakaranas din uli ako ng kilig, pero sa context ng isang bakla in his mid-30s syempre.

Almost one year in, I’ve learned to appreciate the kilig, the ridiculousness of it, and how BLs are just one of many aspects of queer representation out there. I’m making the most out of what I watch. I’m drawing more BL-themed illustrations (Got coinz even!). I’m part of a reactor-turned-podcast about BLs and more (Hello sa The Shippers!). I’ve met several friends from BL watch parties/e-numans and BL art circles. Lastly, I got renewed hope na lalawak pa ang LGBTQIA+ representation sa pakiligan dito sa Pinas! Sana in a few years I’ll be proven right again!

"This spreadsheet that I found online was like the tracker I had in my notebook on steroids." Photo courtesy of NADINE RAMOS

Highly Optimized Reading Experience
Nadine Ramos, 28, HR specialist / Newly Hired and Figuring It Out

I’ve always enjoyed reading as a passive activity. While this hobby took a back seat as my life picked up, moving from job to job and spending what free time I had with friends, I decided in 2019 to read more, just because I’m the kind of person who likes to set challenges for myself. In 2020, like most people, I didn’t expect my life to change too drastically. Three days before quarantine was announced, I’d finished my seventh book of the year (“Red, White, and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuinston). After that, I read one book in April.

Then in May, my friends and I decided to start a book club. Our book for the month was a newly released Xhosa-inspired fantasy novel, “Rage of Dragons” by Evan Winter. I read four more books that month. I know all of this, down to the date that I’d started and finished those books, because in June I started my reading log, which is a less nerdy way of saying book tracking spreadsheet. Back then, I thought it was perfectly normal — I wanted to keep track of what I read. This spreadsheet that I found online was like the tracker I had in my notebook on steroids: it had preset formulas and a sheet for charts.

This heady mix led me to fixating on the authors I was reading: their race, their gender, their protagonist’s profile. The sheet has a drop down menu: “POC? Author/Artist // Protagonist // Author/Artist and Protagonist.” This, along with the deep yearning for outside, led me to spending hours going through book recommendations on Goodreads, then further down the rabbit hole into book blogs. I had over ninety books in my To Be Read sheet, and every other day I’d think of new topics or genres to read, and the list would grow, along with my appetite for it.

Each time I cracked open a book, I got a fresh dose of serotonin: Today I’m going to accomplish something and have fun. Today I’m going to read something lighthearted. Today I’m going to read about a world so removed from mine that I forget about what’s happening. It was through reading that I was able to find the purest form of escape. It completely removed any decision making process from my end; unlike video games where I had to choose where to go, or what quest to fulfill, the only choice I had to make when reading was to continue reading at all.

June 2020, the same month that I started the spreadsheet, is also when I read the most books last year — seven books, or a total of 2,347 pages. I remember being shocked, and then delighted. I remember wanting to read even more. Since then, reading has taken over a big chunk of my free time; I’ve watched only one TV series this year, and only watched four movies. As soon as I log out of work, I read. Our book club is still going strong — we’re on our fourth book of the year. Meanwhile, I’m reading my twentieth.

"In the process of collecting photocards, I discovered that this subculture has developed its own small economy." Photo courtesy of CHANYEOL'S MILITARY WIFE

Photocards are useful, I’m not taking criticism
Chanyeol’s Military Wife*, 30, writer

I don’t understand why people find the idea of K-pop photocards so ridiculous when money exists — literally a useless piece of paper until some guy decided that this piece of paper would be worth something. So that’s where my photocard romance began, realizing that there’s nothing wrong with owning one or wanting to own one. And when I started collecting more, I began to associate that just-unboxed feeling with unfettered joy. It’s just a piece of paper with a Korean person’s face on it and YET!

In the process of collecting photocards, I discovered that this subculture has developed its own small economy, in which people hoard photocards to sell (in order to earn back what they’ve spent on their own collections), or people who artificially drive up the value of certain photocards by mislabelling their rarity. (Case in point: EXO member D.O. has an infamous photocard of his forehead that I’ve seen sell for more than ₱5,000 on Twitter auctions. The card, however, is not actually rare because the album it came from is still in print.) There are also actual rare ones that are worth more than the downpayment for a sedan — NCT member Jaehyun’s Special Yearbook Card is currently being sold for ₱60,000. No word yet if they will accept kidneys as payment.

EXO's "Growl" era photocards. Photo courtesy of CHANYEOL'S MILITARY WIFE

K-pop is a very new interest for me, so my relationship with photocards is strictly pandemic-exclusive. Would I have collected this many photocards if I had freedom? I don’t think so. Life has been so uncertain anyway that there’s no better time than now to indulge in a “silly hobby,” even if that silly hobby means outbidding teens for a forehead photocard or telling your boss “Teka lang, may PC drop in five minutes, I’ll email you back after ako mag-mine.” And then your K-pop fan boss says, “I totally get it.” A company of clowns.

My relationship? With photocards? Let’s just say I’ve been able to go out of town once this year, and in the one night I spent away from home, I chose one photocard from my modest collection and kept it (secured) in my overnight bag. I didn’t bother to look at it while I was actually out, but unpacking it when I got home was a nice feeling. My photocard survived. I survived. Hey now, we’ll be okay, as the great philosophers Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri once said.

I’m taking it out on my hair
Claire Santonia, 24, e-commerce analyst

One thing the lockdown brought me last year was time I never knew I had. To cope with all that free time, I began a plethora of hobbies and things which were eventually forgotten — embroidery, cross-stitching, painting, baking. The two mainstays of the dozens I tried are: dyeing my hair and my obsession with BTS. I didn’t expect to be an ARMY, but with the time I had and the massive boom of “Dynamite,” I rabbit-holed. The thing with being a K-pop fan is that you also feel the need to buy their albums and photocards. Being overly impulsive and obsessed, I was hell-bent on completing Suga’s album photocards. I had to learn how to use selling/buying/trading tags on twitter and checking the tags thrice a day. My most prized card cost me more than ₱2,000. Dyeing my hair, on the other hand, started off with a subtle light brown. A few days later I was bleaching my bangs a la Jennie. One weekend, I was so bored and thought I could bleach my entire head and I did. I didn’t do a very good job though. At least, I dyed it the colors I wanted to and didn’t have to pay so much. My hair changed around six times the past few months and I’m keen on dyeing it blue next.

"At one point I watched a Japanese series with Spanish subtitles thinking I could kill two birds with one stone." Photo courtesy of TRIXIE DELA CRUZ

No se puede, 皆さん.
Trixia dela Cruz, 26, graphic designer

Pre-lockdown, I spent my Saturdays attending beginner Spanish classes in Makati. I initially enrolled because I lowkey thought it was going to be a walk in the park but I instantly shot myself in the foot when I had to conjugate verbs in Español.

The lockdown prompted a new age of language learning, one that’s more accessible to working adults like me. I remember feeling ecstatic at the idea that I can finally learn whenever and wherever I want to. Around the same time, I started falling into the deep rabbit hole that is JDrama. It opened up my world to husbandos that weren’t fictional 2D characters but real ikemen actors like Kento Yamazaki, Mackenyu, and Sho Hirano. Only their bishounen-ness could motivate me to take on the crazy challenge of learning a foreign language with three completely different writing systems.

At first it was pretty chill. I started with the basics and as each material magically felt a little bit easier, I found myself spending more time learning as much as I could. At one point I watched a Japanese series with Spanish subtitles thinking I could kill two birds with one stone. No se puede.

Every day felt like a new opportunity to learn something new. I would go through kanji flashcards whenever I wake up and I would put on a playlist of Japanese words I would listen to till I fell asleep ala Dexter in that “omelette du fromage” episode.

When that didn’t suffice, I would spend hours on Duolingo tirelessly getting each tile from blue to gold. It got really intense when my competitiveness got the best of me. I would lose sleep so I could advance to the next level, win gems to buy hearts, and earn the title of Top 1 against players all over the world. I swear, that green bird haunts me in my sleep.

"Duolingo got really intense when my competitiveness got the best of me." Photo from TRIXIE DELA CRUZ

Despite the times I was on a roll, I also had times where I didn’t see the point of it all. Why keep learning? It’s not like I can fly to the country and fully immerse myself in the culture. Heck, I can’t even apply it to my day job as a local designer. Yes, it’s always nice to learn about different cultures or trivial facts like the word “pared” in Spanish is equivalent to “pader” in Tagalog. But every time I click “join meeting” on Zoom class or press play on a podcast, I suddenly find myself in the presence of people who have the same interests as me. Those few hours in a week I get to share with these random people, where we shadow or discuss fictional scenarios in our broken attempts, has helped me find joy and made me feel less alone during these tough times of isolation. Language learning gave me a sense of community and connection when I needed it the most. It opened me up to a world without borders.

Yes, there is a Catholic Twitter
Riley M.*, 22, college student

I started out in Catholic Twitter around mid-2019 when I followed a few Jesuit priests — like Fr. James Martin., That led me to follow other Catholics: parish priests and nuns using Twitter to evangelize, converts seeking other Catholics, artists showing off their religious paintings and sculptures, and regular people sharing their faith — their favorite prayers, thoughts on the daily Gospel, and their experiences as Catholics. I didn’t know that there was this global community of Catholics — on TWITTER of all places — until then.

Because of the pandemic forcing all of my communications online, I started interacting with more people online, and this included my religious mutuals. I ended up joining a few Catholic/Christian Twitter group chats (including a queer Christian one), and a couple of Discord servers for young Catholics.

Catholic Twitter helped me find a community where I wasn’t alone — a queer, liberal to leftist, Catholic with many problems with the Church, its leaders, its theology, its policies, but still loves the Church nonetheless. There aren’t any leftist or LGBT Catholic spaces or organizations in the Philippines, so to at least know there are people out there who share my faith, my politics and my struggles with my identity.

I’m not as active in Catholic Twitter now (I’m much more involved in election/political Twitter, which deserves a write-up of its own), but I’m grateful for the mutuals and friends that I’ve made in this side of the Internet.

"'Haikyuu' (HQ) became something else to look forward to in a day." Photo courtesy of KARA

Daichi said donmai and I believe him
Kara, 25, waiting for my anime protagonist

Between the lack of projects from work and a looming pile of hobbies I could get back to now that the lockdown had forced us all back home, the unstructured time drove up my anxiety and proportionally crushed any motivation I had left in me. I instead spent a lot of those early days scrolling through TikTok videos.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend spent those “unprecedented” times going through the anime selection on his Netflix list. During one of his designated binge-watching days, he kept making comments about something happening in the episode he was on. Usually, when he reacts to something with a snort or a laugh, I ask him about it when we eat together.

I looked over his shoulder to see what he was fussing about.

It was a high-school volleyball match (Karasuno vs. Aoba Johsai in the first interhigh tournament) I remember making a face, an animated volleyball match just didn't seem like something to be getting so excited about. But then the camera panned to an anime boy with sweeping brown hair, twirling a blue and yellow ball in his hands, I stopped caring about TikTok.

“Haikyuu” (HQ) became something else to look forward to in a day. “HQ” was something familiar-a world pre-COVID—where the only thing uncertain was which team was making it to nationals. After that, I went through all the episodes and the manga in no time. I literally had 0 sleep in anticipation of new chapters of “HQ” because I would turn to different shows to fill the gap, so I’d pass out in afternoons phone in hand from reading too much. I watched “HQ” season four part two maybe three times. Once, with audio off so I could listen to the reactions of my siblings who were watching with me via Facetime. Read a 500k-word fanfic in four days. I also seriously contemplated marriage because my boyfriend said he was open to purchasing me a Bokuaka (Bokuto-Akaashi ship) engagement ring on Etsy.

"I also seriously contemplated marriage because my boyfriend said he was open to purchasing me a Bokuaka (Bokuto-Akaashi ship) engagement ring on Etsy." Photo courtesy of KARA

Now that I'm back at the office fulltime and I don't have as much free time to divide over all the content I want to consume, I joke about how looking over my bf's shoulder one afternoon was the biggest mistake I’ve made. but when I scroll through anitwt and find new content from mangakas and fan creators, I think about how it might've been my 2020's saving grace.

A bird glass bought on Shopee. Photo courtesy of ALY KANGLEON

Let’s all say, salamat Shopee
Aly Kangleon, 25, ceramist

I fell into the trap of online shopping when the “Haikyuu” manga ended and left a massive, gaping hole in my life. Sure, the fourth season of the anime was airing soon, but I urgently needed to extend the warmth! Of witnessing 2D boys Relentlessly Doing Their Best!! Otherwise my pandemic anxiety over things I can’t control would possess me again and I can’t have that, no thank you! So I turned to Carousell for merch.

Haikyuu offerings were limited so I expanded my search to other anime, and then to wildlife and food-themed anything. I love not knowing what I could find and Carousell felt like an inexhaustible site of discovery!

At first I’d only get things that were also functional like folders, towels. Even in my lateral Shopee compulsion I’d get a duck umbrella, a bird wine glass, a fish water bottle etc. But I soon realised that akcholi!!!!! Anime pins, keychains, posters make me happy! Perhaps /THAT/ is the purpose ! Why am I denying myself this pleasure?! In a pandemic!?! This was all the justification I needed.

"Even in my lateral Shopee compulsion I’d get a duck umbrella..." Photo courtesy of ALY KANGLEON

With the veil of utility lifted, I became invincible! transcendent!!! ….unhinged…. Vigorously tapping, swiping, adding to cart, applying vouchers, checking out!! With purpose!!! A cheap thrill is still a thrill after all, no matter how fleeting. And oof, did those pinwheel hair clips and temporary Naruto tattoos give me joy!!!!!!!!

Obviously, this was never sustainable. I knew things had gone too far when monthly sales would come around and I didn’t have anything in my cart because my lack of impulse control had me checking out every other day lol never mind that my growing collection of silly little trinkets had slowly pushed me out of my bed and I was sleeping on a yoga mat, haha.

I ironically stopped online shopping around the holidays and the past months have also been pretty quiet in that department (I have since moved on to other “distractions”). With the rising COVID cases though, I find myself once again tapping on familiar red icons, scrolling to see what I’d find if I typed in “jujutsu kaisen.” 🤡

"I would also host parties on my island. I have an area for different games like spin the wheel, musical chairs, maze race and scavenger hunt." Photo courtesy of ABBEY MANLICLIC

Tom Nook has no power over me
Abbey Manliclic, 28, product designer

“Animal Crossing” (AC) was one of the main reasons I got a Switch. The first few months were really exciting, everyone was into it. We had dedicated group chats for “AC.” We’d visit friends’ islands almost everyday to buy from their stores, water flowers, or get DIYs from their villagers. Airport gets crazy traffic when you get good turnip prices. I was grinding for tarantulas every single night. I bred blue roses in less than a month and terraformed my island according to a spreadsheet. I counted every single block on my island, mapped it out on Numbers and made a blueprint. I don’t time travel, so it took me about two weeks to move all the buildings and finish my island.

I would also host parties on my island. I have an area for different games like spin the wheel, musical chairs, maze race and scavenger hunt. My boyfriend and I also didn’t see each other for the entire ECQ so we would have “AC” dates: Hang out at each other’s island, check what’s new, give each other gifts. For New Year’s, we weren’t together so we had an “AC” date too.

"When I hear that 3 a.m. music, I know it’s getting out of hand." Photo courtesy of ABBEY MANLICLIC

I would say that was the final hurrah of “AC” addiction. It came to a point where I would just stay up to vibe to the late night “AC” background music. 12-2a.m. music is very mellow and kinda like a lullaby. But at 3 a.m., it gets a little funky. When I hear that 3 a.m. music, I know it’s getting out of hand. There was one night where I was like “Omg may butterflies na” and regular butterflies aren’t there at night so yes, it was already sunrise.

I’m over 900 hours now, but I’ve stopped playing regularly. I still log in from time to time to catch new fish and bugs to complete my museum. I also play when there are special events so I can get cute seasonal items (that I know I’ll never even cause I don’t wanna change my island anymore).

Masturbation is salvation
C, 26, hedonist

I’m a collector. When I get interested in something, I want to accumulate as much stuff related to that interest as possible. This has been true since my childhood of stuffed toys, Beyblades, and “Yu-Gi-Oh” cards to my current trove of K-pop albums, anime merch, and sex toys. Yes. Sex toys. An expensive loophole in the year of forced celibacy. My shelves are not exactly overflowing with dicks, but I do have enough of a variety that some would find excessive. There is no reason that a person who isn’t a professional dog walker should have 10 collars. I’ve used toys prior to lockdown, but they were just aids to partnered sex.

Now, they’re companions in the pursuit of understanding my own pleasure. You don’t realize how much time you waste laying back and thinking of the motherland when you can bring yourself to orgasm in less than five minutes with a good vibrator.

This year also brought the realization that video porn just doesn’t do it for me. I can appreciate the craft and humor of it, but I don’t get the tinglies my no-no area that I get from well-written erotica. I was trained by an adolescence spent scouring for spicy fics with my favorite ships to appreciate the feelings brought by the written word. Although now, I have moved on to ao3 and Tumblr. (yes, I still use Tumblr. sue me.)

I realized that my sex life prior to the lockdown was centered around other people’s satisfaction. I can give head than can rock your world, but I can count on my hands the number of satisfying orgasms I’ve reached with a partner. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun experiences, but I also had a lot of sucky ones as well.

Do I miss the touch of another person? All the time. Do I count down the minutes to when we can finally go back to playing footsie under restaurant tables? Absolutely. But until then, I have my Magic Wand and my favorite smut peddlers to keep me entertained.

"When lockdown happened around March, I didn’t have a choice but to spend time with my dying domestic ecosystem." Photo courtesy of JUDD FIGUERRES

Achieving balance through pothos
Judd Figuerres, 30, Advertising Director

I moved into a new place last year, and one of the more memorable housewarming gifts was a set of indoor plants from my friend Whammy Alcazaren. Super excited ako to build a space of my own and I really wanted indoor plants for decoration. I didn’t bother to research on how to properly take care of them since in my head, they were just purely ornamental — aesthetics lang. Sobrang busy ko din and parati akong wala sa bahay so ‘di ko talaga sila natutukan. I killed most of them.

When lockdown happened around March, I didn’t have a choice but to spend time with my dying domestic ecosystem. So nag-start ako mag research and medyo masaya yung process since para siyang science experiment. As I started introducing a routine to my plants, I saw how they responded to care. The plants bounced back from my neglect and flourished. The first few weeks of the lockdown was medyo weird, sad, and empty, but seeing life restart right in front of my eyes helped me appreciate the beauty of living again.

"The first few weeks of the lockdown was medyo weird, sad, and empty, but seeing life restart right in front of my eyes helped me appreciate the beauty of living again." Photo courtesy of JUDD FIGUERRES

My understanding of plants got deeper and deeper as I started connecting with the plant community online. Sobrang fun kausap ng mga OG plantitos and plantitas. Malungkot din yung whole lockdown situation so ayos din na there’s a venue to socialize and meet new friends. Being welcomed by the plant community felt like a reminder that people are still capable of uplifting and supporting each other. It was comforting to experience decent human connections kasi parang sobrang gulo na ng feeling ng mundo noon.

It’s already been a year and I would like to think that I’m a better plantito. Nakakapatay pa rin ako ng plants — it’s part of the hobby and na-accept ko na yun. Dati kasi galit na galit ako sa sarili ko ‘pag nakakapatay ako ng plant. Ngayon, mas naiitindihan ko na ang kailangan ng plants ko at mas gentle na din ako sa sarili ko. I learned the value of care of concern through plants. I can feel it ‘pag ni-rereturn nila yung love na binibigay ko. I think yun yung magic ng taking care of plants: it reminds us na pwede naman tayo mabuhay in harmony. Super giving ng nature, and I think as people we sometimes forget na all it needs is a little bit of love and respect in return.


*Names have been changed at the request of the subjects.