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The Seven Faces x Pabalat Workshop: Breathing Life to a Dying Art

Updated: Apr 10

Introduction (by Tita Zee)

Since the members of BTS began their military service, I particularly enjoyed watching past episodes of Run, BTS! a little bit more. They make me laugh and they inspire me to revisit old hobbies and explore new leisurely activities that are calming—offering opportunities to step back from the drone of daily life.

The effects of maintaining a hobby are aplenty. It is self-care, first and foremost, from which the body, mind, and spirit can benefit. As Michael Hyatt writes in The Science Behind Why You Need a Hobby (Full Focus, 2023), “Hobbies allow you to focus on something else, freeing up and revitalizing your mental energy. When you invest time on something you enjoy outside of work, you gain a greater level of clarity, creativity, and various health benefits—and ultimately improve the quality of your work."

No wonder why on top of BTS’ busy schedule and hectic way of life, they played games, engaged in sports and art, sang and danced like crazy, did woodwork and pottery, wrote poems and children’s stories, cooked, drank, and ate a lot in a reality show that showcased their personalities, too. Although framed in the four corners of a screen online or a media broadcast, our Bangtan guys had fun. Their verve and vitality are contagious.

When Titas of BTS and ARMY Connect PH launched the ARMY Glow-Up Campaign at the Pearl ARMY Festa, Take Two, it was the 7th Pillar, AGU Recreation, that Tita Poochie Tablan was drawn to. She shares her ARMY Glow-Up journey that she started a few weeks after Pearl ARMY Festa.

Reigniting My Passion (by Poochie Tablan)

The launch of the ARMY Glow-Up campaign last July 2023 prompted me to (re)start several recreational activities and hobbies that had been set aside when I started working and eventually got pregnant and gave birth to my three boys (my very own Jin, Jimin, and JK!).

One of the things I intended to achieve was to be healthier. This pushed me to start my #balikloobsabadminton (return to badminton) and #balikzumba (return to Zumba) journeys, which are good weekly exercises for me and a great bonding activity with my officemates. I also aimed to nourish and challenge my brain, thus I went back to reading books.

I also joined a small group of TOBbies (Titas of BTS members) who draw and sketch regularly as an outlet where I can translate all my feelings, pent-up emotions, and stress from work. We call it Drawing For Decompression. Love for drawing runs in the Tablan bloodline as we are all gifted with the talent and skill we believe was passed on from my grandfather to my dad and his siblings, then to me and my siblings, and our respective children. Though we all have our ways of expressing our passion for the arts, all my kids can draw from their imagination.

When Tita Zee brought up the idea of doing a Pabalat Workshop after visiting the BTS x James Jean Exhibition in SM Megamall, I immediately signed up as I am very adventurous in trying new things, especially when it piques my interest and ignites my imagination. Last November 5, 2023, right after the exhibit, we headed to Persaro’s Café in Ortigas, where Tita Anna Bautista Hernandez, a professor, cultural worker, museum curator, our facilitator, and SUGA-biased ARMY had set up her presentation for the Seven Phases x Pabalat Workshop.

The quaint café was half-filled with Pearl ARMYs and Tita ARMYs eager to learn about the art of Pabalat. The small crowd was composed of Pearl ARMYs from all walks of life, backgrounds, and experiences. Among them were Tita Nelly Hernandez and Tita Elvie Caroll, also members of Titas of BTS, who managed to join us while vacationing in Manila. They are both currently based in the U.S. It was a delight to see fellow ARMYs gathering not just to celebrate BTS but also to work on our ARMY Glow-Up goals together.

Reviving The Art of Pabalat - Bangtan Style

Tita Anna started her workshop with a quick overview of Pabalat, its relevance to our Filipino culture, and how BTS inspired her to include it in her heritage advocacy. Not long ago, I saw various footage and videos expressing dejection over this particular diminishing art. I was stunned to know that Pabalat, the art of cutting Japanese paper with intricate designs and using it to cover the sweet and milky Filipino snack called pastillas, is an art form that has seemingly taken a backseat due to commercialization.

Knowing this fact about Pabalat made the workshop even more meaningful. When Tita Anna showed us the various BTS-inspired templates she prepared, we all got excited to start right away. Who would have thought that our love for anything BTS can be used as a vehicle to revive a dying art?

Like giddy high school girls, we immediately got busy tracing the designs handed out by our workshop angels Tita Val and Tita Odessa. We then focused on cutting our masterpieces. Some were working quietly while others, like me, were blabbing, taking the opportunity to chat face to face with ARMY friends who we only met online.

The Seven Faces x Pabalat workshop gave me a chance to test my creativity, motor skills, and patience. Curating the Japanese paper with the designs and eventually cutting them can be exhausting and mentally draining. When I started cutting the Japanese paper, I mentally told myself: "Poochie, be patient. Have a steady hand. Focus!" However, my brain was contradicting my mind. What if I cut beyond the borders? What if the paper got cut ahead? What if I can't make this work? Oh, my list of what-ifs was long!

The mere presence of Tita Anna and Tita Zee going around to take pictures and checking on our progress made me a little uneasy and a bit nervous. (Hey, I was rubbing elbows with two lady professionals!) But when I got the hang of it, losing and indulging myself in the diminishing art in front of me, I became nostalgic and a little emotional. This Pabalat workshop was one of the numerous forgotten arts. One for the books, as they say. As I cut the pattern that bore the symbols of BTS and ARMY, I knew I would remember my love for BTS and the fanbase; and along with it, the act of preserving a Filipino heritage. That is hitting two birds with one stone!

The Seven Faces x Pabalat workshop was an experience that opened my eyes to the reality that some God-given talents are slowly disintegrating and forgotten by the new generations. A classic art that is truly world-class on its own must be revived. I began sharing the experience of celebrating arts and crafts with my children. Now, we've been alternating our Saturday movie nights with arts and crafts activities. This allowed me to hit another AGU goal to improve my relationship with my kids have common interests and hobbies with them and spend quality time together as a family.

I tried my luck in joining the Seven Faces x Pabalat workshop and it gave me a new experience in art, gained new friends, and the bonus confidence booster that I can do anything just by stepping up.

The Benefits of the Arts and Crafting in Self-Improvement

Arts and crafts can make a wonderful hobby for several reasons. Here are a few benefits of engaging in arts and crafts:

1. Creativity and Self-expression: Engaging in arts and crafts allows you to explore your creative side and express yourself. Whether it's drawing, painting, sculpting, knitting, or any other form of art, you have the freedom to create something unique and personal. It allows you to tap into your imagination and express your thoughts and emotions in a creative and fulfilling way.

2. Relaxation and Stress Relief: Artistic activities can provide a great escape from the stresses of daily life. While you immerse yourself in the process of creating something, your mind tends to relax and focus on the present moment. This can be therapeutic and help reduce stress levels. It acts as a form of meditation, allowing you to unwind and rejuvenate.

3. Skill Development: Engaging in arts and crafts helps to develop various skills. Whether it's painting techniques, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, or learning new crafts, you are constantly challenging yourself and acquiring new skills. Over time, you will see improvement in your abilities and gain a sense of achievement and self-confidence.

4. Outlet for Emotions: Sometimes, it can be challenging to express emotions verbally. Art can serve as a medium to communicate and release emotions. Creating art can provide a safe space to explore and process feelings that may be challenging to articulate otherwise. It allows for self-reflection and can serve as a cathartic outlet.

5. Sense of Accomplishment and Enjoyment: Creating something with your own hands can bring a great sense of accomplishment and pride. When you complete a piece of art or craft, you can admire the tangible result of your efforts. This feeling of success can boost self-esteem and create a sense of satisfaction.

6. Social Connection: Engaging in arts and crafts can also be a social activity. Joining art classes, workshops, or crafting groups allows you to meet and connect with like-minded people who share your interests. It provides an opportunity to learn from others, exchange ideas, and foster a sense of community.

7. Personalized Gifts and Decorations: Art and crafts offer the ability to create personalized gifts for your loved ones or to decorate your living space. Handmade gifts often carry more sentimental value and show the recipient that you have put time, effort, and thought into the present. Additionally, creating unique decorations for your living space allows you to express your personal style and add a touch of creativity to your surroundings.

There are many hobbies and recreational activities you can pursue with friends and family. As ARMY, we enjoin you to grow through one of the pillars of the ARMY Glow Up Campaign, #AGU_Recreation, through arts and crafts, sports and games of physical or virtual nature, singing and dancing lessons, building models, walking for fitness, even board games and card games.

We hope you get to discover your hidden talents or go back to hobbies long forgotten to ignite your passion for life. Better to share the experience with family and friends who have the same passion as you. Age is never a show-stopper. What really matters is your heart and soul in doing anything worthwhile. It's never too late to read a book, pick up a pen and draw, or write whatever you want. The best time to do it is now.

Photos courtesy of Poochie Tablan and Tita Zee


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