What’s in a doll? Patches of hope with faith sewn in, as ANIKA VENTURA finds in Manikako.
Creativity is the only thing you have when everything has been taken away from you,” says Joey David-Tiempo, one of the founders of Manikako.
Manikako (pronounced ma-nee-ka-ko), which Joey started with artists Hannah Liongoren and Gabie Osorio shares hope by holding free doll-making workshops for children who are victims of abuse, calamity or poverty.
“Manikako,” when translated from Tagalog, means manika (doll) and ko (my), or “my doll.” The group’s philosophy is simple: inspire creativity in those who are feeling hopeless.
During its free doll-making workshops, Manikako works by certain codes: dolls must be made by hand; dolls must use only recycled cloth; and doll-makers must give their dolls to someone else.
“Creation empowers a person,” says Joey. “When you create you feel (like), ‘Ah, I still have it in me.’ So we hold these workshops in depressed areas so that people will realize that they can do something about their situation.”
Kids are reminded of their potential when they create by hand, she says. Using recycled cloth encourages them to create something out of (almost) nothing. When a child makes a doll for someone else, a sense of selflessness is developed. Sometimes, during workshops, Joey laments, children eat only half of their meal, setting aside the other half for their families at home who could use the treat.
Thankfully, Manikako’s efforts have received significant support through the years. Some corporations donate truckloads of cloth to be made into dolls, while some event organizers give Manikako a booth where the dolls can be displayed and sold. During events, the girls behind Manikako can guide you in making your own doll, or for an additional fee, make one for you.
Right now, the group can use some help in selling the dolls (10 percent of sales revenues fund the free workshops). To date, 15 free workshops have been conducted in 10 communities. Repeat workshops take place in urban poor areas like Payatas in Quezon City and Kasiglahan village in Rizal. Occasionally, Manikako outsources the production of plushies to a group of women from Pasig City who had just lost their jobs, to give them livelihood. Now, those women have expanded to making uniforms for other clients.
Despite the challenges and tight schedules, Joey dreams of holding regular doll-making workshops and finding a permanent venue for Manikako. This is where the group hopes to be a bridge between the rich and the poor, by bringing kids from different backgrounds together and letting them learn from each other.
“We want to teach them things like (how) they can make their own toys. They don’t have to buy new ones. We can all create—there’s no rich or poor. In creativity, we are all equal,” Joey says.
Manikako pendants (Php75) and customized Manikako dolls (PhP350) are also for sale at Liongoren Gallery in Cubao, Quezon City. You may also order them online at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/manikako.