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‘I Do What I Can, Where I Can, When I Can’



Marga Nograles

“Life in quarantine has hit me in different phases. First it was about making a schedule at home to keep everyone productive. This worked well for all of us. We had things to do, things we didn’t want to do, things we looked forward to doing. We were good, but then after a few weeks, we got bored doing creative time or working out every 3 p.m., so our schedule evolved into other things like cooking and baking. My kids love to eat so now they are trying to make their own food care of YouTube. Still, we try to stick to a schedule. The most constant is breakfast, mass at 12 noon, lunch, merienda, dinner, then rosary before bedtime. After a month or so, we got used to life at home. It was about finding something exciting to do (or eat) every day, no matter how small.




When I felt that my home was okay and that we were all happy with our routine, I decided it was time for me to go back to work fulltime. My tribes have not stopped working, so I decided it was time to move forward. My days now are for work until 5 p.m., while my kids cook, read, chat with their friends, and wait for their TV time. Karlo, meanwhile, is working nonstop.


Nograles family

This crisis is bigger than all of us and truly only God is in control. I learned not to point fingers at anyone but to do what I can, where I can, when I can. For the things I cannot control, I pray. I learned that life is short. It is too short to hate, so I find happiness in the smallest of things every day. I learned how to maximize every corner of our home. My living room is now my office, my creative space, my happy hour lounge, my meeting room. It continually evolves into many other things. Same goes will all our spaces. When this is over, I will forever be grateful for our home because here we are happy, we are productive, we are safe. I also learned that everyone can cook! I love how our new little toaster oven from S&R is so used and abused. I also love how our one and only whisk has been used to maximum capacity by all of us, Karlo included. Lastly, I love how I am reminded to sit still and pray. This quiet time has taught me that kindness always wins. My biggest learning is to let go and let God.


Kaayo face masks

At Kaayo, we have not stopped working. Our tribes continue to weave, bead, and embroider. In the beginning we were focused on just cooking meals for our frontliners at Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao, then we started making cloth masks to donate to the hospitals. We were just going with the flow, one day at a time. We continued selling online via our Instagram account and all proceeds went to giving more work to our tribes, paying our employees, and helping with Covid-related efforts as best we could. Recently, though, I decided to finally restructure, relaunch, and reinvent. I had to define our new normal and decided to move forward.

God was the one who decided to put a hold on everything, so I took that as an opportunity to stop, breathe, then eventually I decided to innovate and reinvent.

I guess the biggest challenge for everyone was that nobody saw this crisis coming. At Kaayo, we were already done with schedules and collections for the year. Events, pop-ups, shows, new stores, etc., we had so many plans. At one point, I was wondering if I could really see it all through, but I guess I didn’t have to. God was the one who decided to put a hold on everything, so I took that as an opportunity to stop, breathe, then eventually I decided to innovate and reinvent. We did not stop working, but now we adjust and shift by designing collections and collaborations that support the #BeatCovid19Together campaign. We would always create with a purpose. But now, we carry on together with our tribes with a new purpose.



Once the quarantine is lifted, the first order of the day for me, I guess, would be to set up a warehouse office for my team where we can jumpstart our new business model. Also, I will send all collections pending here in Manila to our tribes in Mindanao as soon as possible. I still don’t see my family traveling or going out anytime soon. We will still continue to work and learn from home. But maybe if given the chance, I would love to take the kids to the beach for some fresh air.

I hope to see many changes in the post-pandemic world. But my top three would be, first, for me to never forget the time spent at home with family and staff, always remembering I am blessed to have everything I ever need at home. Next, I hope to see more and more Filipinos buying local, not just to jumpstart our economy, but really to help with sustainability and to promote who we are as a people. Lastly, I would love to see more Filipinos travel the Philippines. Together, let us discover our many treasures. I truly believe we will all heal together as a country and, when we do, may we never take anything for granted ever again.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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