MANILA -- (UPDATED) A woman based in Siargao recently put together a magazine that aims to not only send positive vibes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but also help non-government organizations on the island.
Called Felice, the quarterly digital publication includes inspiring stories on island living, particularly on art, food, and spirituality.
Founder Jof Sering promised "a good balance of fun and quirkiness in each page" as they "rely heavily on vivid illustrations and imagery that make the magazine such a visually appealing read."
"Felice magazine is a guide to living the best life based on our own journey and the many other people that continue to inspire us, even from faraway places. What's unique about it is that there are no rules, except that it has to be fun and exciting for us and our engaged readers," she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
"This means the magazine will always be fresh, and there's something new to look forward to," she added. "Most of the stories are not just a one-time thing. Usually, one reads about a person or a place, and that's it. At Felice magazine, our stories can become an in-depth series that explore various journeys into the mindset of island living."
The Felice brand started out as Sering's doodles of a "girl in a bikini doing funny and playful things" back in 2008, while she was living in Boracay. She moved back to Manila two years later to work with a fashion designer.
"During this time, I started calling these girls Felice, which is also my second name. It means happy and joyous," she said.
Feeling "miserable" in the city, Sering turned to art to make her happy, eventually posting her first artwork of Felice to sell.
Island life came calling once again, so she moved to Siargao and set up a shop and studio space in 2016. Also called Felice, the shop sold mostly fashion items such as bags, jewelry, kaftans, and shirts.
"I was in the shop every day, speaking with clients from all over the world. I created art classes and eventually invited art teachers from Manila to come and conduct their own classes. That was really fun!" she said.
CHANGE OF PLANS
Sering was supposed to relaunch her Felice shop with new products this year, but had to change plans because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As she focused her energy on playing with her daughter, the idea to put together a magazine began.
"One morning, while we were out playing, the idea for the magazine came like an 'aha' moment. But a magazine during a pandemic, do we really need it? I cast my doubts aside and trusted my intuition to just go for it," she said. "All the people I wanted to join in the first issue instantly said yes, so I also took it as a good sign."
She went on: "I wanted to send out this good vibes magazine out into the world. I believe creativity, spirituality, and healthy food makes us thrive during these crazy times, especially when everyone is in survival mode."
Sering was able to form a core group which also included Quincy Alivio, who helped with art, layout, and web design; and Elka Requinta for copywriting, marketing, and story commissioning.
She also sought the help of her sisters, Tara, Dang, and Tweet, who are "amazing writers and helped shape the magazine."
"I've been in Siargao since February 2020 to volunteer for friends' NGOs while waiting to finalize a job offer overseas. Corona quarantine hit, so the job offer was shelved. I found other ways to make rent and keep myself busy while on this island paradise. One of those was Felice magazine. And because I'm a fan, I agree with [Jof's] ideals and couldn't say no to her infectious energy, I'm grateful to go along for the ride -- along with Quincy, who has been in the island for about four years," Requinta said.
Sering described the creative process behind Felice as "fun and exciting," although she admitted that the "learning curve was steep."
That said, she is thankful to all those who have helped her put the magazine together, especially the contributors including pro surfer Ikit Agudo, illustrator Gela Hachero, visual artist Alessa Lanot, yoga teacher Joelle Montifello, and entrepreneur Danika Nemis.
"I would stay up late at night studying different things like copyediting and illustration guides, anything I could get my hands on to get this going the way I wanted to. My sister Tara, who is an accomplished editor-in-chief for magazines, also gave me a masterclass on copyediting and writing guides," Sering said.
"I was taking things as they come, so if I knew ahead of time that I had to do all these to put a magazine together, I probably would never have done it!" she added in jest.
HELPING SIARGAO-BASED NGOS
Felice offers different kinds of content, from life tips to yoga guides, recipes, and even literature like poetry and short stories.
Sering said the free articles are available on the Felice website, while subscription plans allow readers to download a digital copy of the magazine.
Prices range from P299 for one issue, to P1,499 for an annual subscription plus a donation to their partner NGOs, as well as other freebies.
The magazine's beneficiaries include Siargao Environmental Awareness, which encourages long-term solutions on top of beach clean-up drives; Reusable Menstrual Pad Project, which helps local women save money from buying disposable sanitary napkins; and Siargao Masaya, which aims to sponsor half of the annual tuition and school supplies of children on the island.
"Ever since I started my business in 2016, part of the proceeds from every kaftan, artwork, and bag purchased in our Felice shop have always gone to Siargao-based NGOs that we believe in. Since we still couldn't relaunch the shop due to the pandemic, I thought the magazine could be another way to keep helping out. The groups we support are all founded by inspiring women," Sering said.