Filipina turns to leaf art to sustain her after losing job in pandemic

Published October 27, 2020, 2:18 PM

by Gabriela Baron

A Filipina artist came up with a unique way of earning a living to keep her afloat during the pandemic.

Mary Mae Dacanay learned to monetize her hobby — leaf art — after she lost her job as a factory worker in Laguna.

(Photo from Mary Mae Dacanay)

“Ngayon po wala po akong work dahil nawalan po ako ng trabaho dahil sa COVID-19, pinagkakaabalahan ko po ngayon ay ang pagle-leaf art (I currently don’t have a job because I was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I devote my time to leaf art these days),” Dacanay told MB Online.

“Yung kinikita ko po nakakatulong po ito sa pangangailangan ko (My income from making leaf art really helps my needs),” she added.

Dacanay shared she only started doing leaf art last February using jackfruit leaves and avocado leaves. She said she prefers these leaves because they are thicker and sturdy. 

“During the pandemic, I was thinking of something that will support our financial problems because I’m jobless, that’s where I discovered my talent on leaves,” the 23-year-old artist said.

(Photo from Mary Mae Dacanay)

She began cutting leaves to create images of celebrities such as Robert Downey, Michael Jackson, Alden Richards, Jose Mari Chan, Emman Nemidez, Lloyd Cadena, and athletes LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

(Photo from Mary Mae Dacanay)

Since becoming viral on social media, Dacanay said she has been receiving a lot of inquiries and orders from netizens.

“My life improved because I earned more by sketching leaves, not like as an employee, [where] my salary is standard,” she added.

Her art pieces sell for as much as ₱400 each. Price for personalized art varies depending on the level of detail of each piece.

Most of Dacanay’s clients ask her to make personalized leaf art for family members as gifts for the upcoming Holiday season.

“Nakakatuwa marami po nag-iinquire at may ilan din pong nagpapagawa at malaki po aking pasasalamat dahil nakakatulong po sa akin, at thank you din sa mga nagtitiwala sa akin (There are a lot of people messaging me [on Facebook] to inquire and to commission me to do leaf art. I am very grateful to them because they help me, so I say thank you to those who trust me),” she said.

“My dream is to go to college and [take a course] connected to what I [am] doing right now.”