Filipinos in Sydney turn their time to do useful projects to keep their sanity and beat their anxiety.
Many revisited old hobbies, such as cooking or baking, painting, and gardening.
Others try to discover new skills.
Sydney-based Ezekiel Banal turn to painting to part away from his separation anxiety while alone at home during the lockdown and waiting to be reunited with his wife.
- Lockdown forced people to stay at home.
- Some turn to cooking, arts, music and gardening to stay away from lockdown blues.
- For many, like these Filipinos in Sydney, keeping resiliency in times of lockdown plays a role in avoiding stress and anxiety.
Learning a new skill
Machine operator Ezekiel Banal started painting only last year when his wife visited the Philippines and was stranded there for more than seven months.
"When my wife went home last year, she was trapped there because of the lockdown," recalls Ezekiel.
“She encouraged me to try painting or experiment on new hobbies as she saw that we both were having separation anxiety being away from each other for a long time."
Being alone at home during the lockdowns in Sydney in 2020, Sydney employee resorted to painting.
The newbie Mixed Media Artist has no prior experience in painting and amidst the lockdown, he discovered a new passion.
“Maybe in primary, I just love to draw cartoon characters, but that's it.”
“I taught myself to paint watching from Youtube videos and tutorials.”
Most of Ezekiel's paintings are colourful and bright - from flowers to different places and tourist spots such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
But a big inspiration for the new painter from Sydney is of Filipino-themed paintings just like the works of one of the known painters from the Philippines, Fernando Amorsolo.
“I really want to pursue the technique of Impressionism,” points Ezekiel.
Impressionism, formed in 19th century, is a painting style prominent for short brush strokes that swiftly contrast to highlight bright colours to show the effect of light to objects.
Rekindle an old passion
Multi-talented nurse, community leader, host and singer Jojo Sebastian also paints vibrant colours of paintings.
The Inner West resident holds various roles in several Filipino community groups in New South Wales. Oftentimes he hardly is home because of his position in the community along with his regular job as a nurse.
So when the lockdown struck in Sydney in 2020, the current Art Director of the Filipino Sports Art and Recreational Club (FILSPARC) took the opportunity to paint again.
Most of Jojo's paintings are abstract .
“I'm so busy that most of the time I don't have time. The only good thing about the lockdowns is that we were forced to stay at home."
Apart from arts, the talented host also sings and given there are no community events, he embraces karaoke.
If his karaoke is off, you can hear Jojo's voice singing while working on his special lockdown project - their home garden.
The Mister Diamond International 2021 winner is considered a 'certified plantito' (plant lover). He and his partner were too busy planting different types of plants in their apartment yard.
Jojo got his love of plants from his parents from whom he got his cooking skills too.
"I now have lots of different plants. I had time to re-pot, and do grafting. Sometimes I give them away, other times I sell them."
Central Coast resident Sibyl Acuna thought of baking as a potential business too.
"It could be a business", says Sibyl, just like several Filipinos in Sydney and Melbourne, who, during lockdowns, became home cooks or bakers.
Away from being a business venture, cooking is a passion for the mother-of-two from Bicol.
"I love to cook and bake. It unleashes my creativity and it makes me happy."
"The relaxing feeling that it gives me is indescribable. But the most important of all, cooking is my expression of love - feeding and sharing it with my family and friends."
Projects of joy and hope
Whatever you are busy with during the lockdown, it is important that it is fun.
"When we keep ourselves busy we have mental security, we focus on other anxieties that we can't control," explains Jojo Sebastian, a nurse in northern Sydney.
You may be cooking, gardening or painting, "the things we do give us hope when we do them".
"It's very important because when a person becomes emotional, becomes depressed or has acquires various illnesses, that will manifest physically on our body," adds Jojo.
"If your mental and emotional health are pretty good and you've been busy during the lockdown, your physical will be okay as well."
He also said that "even though we are physically isolated, call someone for emotional support - call your friends, family or loved ones - talk to them."
"We need to take care of our wholistic being - mental, psychological, emotional and physical."
As Mixed Media Artist Ezekiel Banal says "all these too shall pass", do whatever will make you happy. If you like cooking, try it. But if you feel like doing nothing, then be it."