Heart Evangelista is stranded in Sorsogon

Published August 20, 2020, 8:34 PM

by AA Patawaran

And she is falling deeply, madly in love with all that is undiscovered in this part of the Bicol region

MAHAL KONG SORSOGON “Sunflowers are a promise of better days,” wrote Heart in her IG post of the photo

As soon as the enhanced community quarantine eased into a less restrictive phase, Love Marie Ongpauco Escudero aka Heart Evangelista, accompanied by Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero’s twins Quino and Chesi, a few of her friends, and her famous aspin princess Panda, threw herself into a van and took on an eight-hour road trip to Bicol.

It was supposed to be a weeklong visit, but she took on a few personal projects—including refurbishing her favorite areas in the Escudero family home, rescuing many stray puppies, discovering a few things unique to the province, and meeting some craftsmen in whose work she found many possibilities—and then a new quarantine was put in place.

She believes there is a reason for everything and, although she has many commitments in Manila that she has to put on hold by force of circumstances, Heart is happy to have been stranded in Sorsogon.

Here are a few snippets from our recent conversation.

You’ve been in Sorsogon for weeks. What have you discovered about the province that you’d most like to share with the world?

I’ve been here for over a month and I’ve just been at peace.  There’s just so much to do. I was getting very anxious in Manila. It was the season and I was beginning to get into it again. So it was a good decision to come here to be with my husband, from whom I had been apart for a while, for the first three months of the quarantine. The moment I got here, I felt so much happier with my friends and especially with Chiz.

CRAFTS[WO]MAN Heart collaborates with women artisans of Sorsogon for #LoveMarieXSorsogon.

What are the best things to do in Sorsogon on a visit?

Well, you have the Paguriran Island, which has a blue lagoon. You can walk through it from the shore. There’s also Bulusan Lake. And Rompeolas, which used to be the old pier. Now it’s a long baywalk that looks out on the bay and at Mt. Bulusan and the most gorgeous sunsets. Lots of open space, so it’s nice to go there for a run. I’m also very proud of the Kapitolyo (The Sorsogon Provincial Capitol Complex) and its parks. There are so many activities you can do there. Every night, especially weekends, there’s somebody playing the saxophone and it’s just so beautiful and peaceful. It’s a really nice area for afternoon strolls, especially when you’re all anxious hearing all the news.

Subic Beach in Matnog is also beautiful, with its pink, powdery sand from the red corals nearby. Sorsogon is an undiscovered paradise. It’s so exciting to experience everything. It’s also amazing to see what Chiz has been doing unfold before my eyes, like the museum in the works at the capitol, the Sorsogon Cultural Heritage Museum. It’s going to be housed in what used to be the provincial jail.

What has it been like collaborating with Sorsogon artists, artisans, and craftsmen?

I’ve been discovering different products here. You feel like you’re shopping for yourself but in a way you’re shopping for everybody else because you’re so excited to introduce products that are proudly made here in Sorsogon that not a lot of people are seeing and that not a lot of people know are from Sorsogon. That’s why I wanted to collaborate with the artists, and artisans and craftsmen. From these collaborations, I came up with the pili bracelets. The pili is the hidden pearl of Sorsogon because 63 percent of pili nuts are found here. I wanted to re-highlight that with our products, especially with the bracelets I’ve come up with, which are kind of unique. They’ve never really been done that way. I’m so happy about that. I’m featuring them on my website lovemarieescudero.com. and also my IG store @shopmaisonlovemarie, where they’ve been sold out.

What is it like being the governor’s wife in Sorsogon in these challenging times?

I’m very, very proud of Chiz. In the beginning, it was very hard for me to understand that we should be apart because the lockdown caught me in Manila but he had to be here. Plus, being governor made him way busier than he was at the senate. But I’m seeing all that he has done here, all the new buildings, all that he is building here and it’s really uplifting not just for me but also for the people of Sorsogon even in the midst of all these challenges in the pandemic. I’m just glad that I’m here now to see all this progress and that all of Chiz’s sacrifices, being away from me, being away from his children, have been worth it.

How can we help Sorsogon and its people in this crisis and beyond?

Supporting local. I guess, it’s not just Sorsogon. It’s everywhere. Sorsogon is really a faraway place, yet all the trade fairs, all the shows, all the exporting, all the goods are doing well. So if you shop local, if you buy anything from Sorsogon, you really give livelihood to these creative people, to these artisans. And it really uplifts their spirit because nobody really gives credit to the artists of Sorsogon. A lot of the stuff they do is sold somewhere else, so it’s really nice to highlight their talent and highlight their hard work. At @shopmaisonlovemarie, a percent of the sales goes to them to give them a good start with their businesses and livelihoods.Now more than ever, we really need to support each other and take care of each other. I’m very blessed to have been given this chance. I guess everything has a reason. And that’s why I’m really happy to be here.