Too beautiful: Sustainable and thoughtfully made candles are of Visayan roots

Published February 24, 2021, 8:30 AM

by Jane Kingsu-Cheng

Everyone has dabbled into a passion project or two this lockdown to keep themselves busy. Makeup artist Chuchie Ledesma is one of them, but what makes her candles stand out is how her first collection of limited scented candles have been thoughtfully and carefully conceptualized.


How it started
“I started this candle line in the middle of a pandemic, when most establishments and most of my income sources had to shut down,” Chuchie tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Online. Overcame with anxiety, stress, and panic, she ended up drained and exhausted in her endless search for solutions. “So much so that when the world completely shut down, I did, too.”

While writing a script, another source of income for this makeup artist, she suddenly broke down. Trying to find her footing again due to the deadlines that needed to be fulfilled, she thought of lighting a candle. “I nicked my sister’s candle and lit it. With the scent filling the air and the flickering of the candle light. Bit by bit, my mind regained its focus and my body started to calm down. I was able to work peacefully and eventually made it to my deadline.” Since then, she has been lighting a candle as part of her daily ritual.

Going back to Waray roots
Slow and sustainable come to mind upon seeing these beautifully handcrafted candles under the label “Himo.” Chuchie explains, “Himo in Waray means ‘to create.'” This first batch of candles is also aptly called “Hinumdom” (memory in Waray), and she goes back to her childhood days in Northern Samar, finding the best memories of when she found “inspiration, lessons, and happiness through the stories behind each product.”

Though she wasn’t born in Northern Samar, she remembers her frequent visits to her grandmother’s home every summer. “Through Himo, I want to make Waray cool by incorporating Waray words and concepts. Himo aims to redefine the value of the dialect and the entire Visayan culture by elevating it into a status symbol where one is deemed ‘cool’ for being able to speak and understand this special and colourful vernacular,” Chuchie says proudly. Himo is a label she hopes will inspire Filipinos to take pride of our roots.

Art-infused elements
She only made 30 pieces for each of the five scents, and she named them each in Waray as well: Tari-Ti which means “ambon” or light rain; Suna that means “sinag ng araw” or sunshine; Higugma means “pagmamahal” or love; Alayon which means “paki” or please; and Gapas which means “bulak” or cotton. Why only 30 each? “Because every single candle is an artwork, and I want to make it special,” she adds.

But it doesn’t stop here. The cement pots where the candles are encased are thoughtfully made, too! “I designed the candle vessel to be upcycled into a plant pot after all the candle wax has been consumed. That or you can use it for something else.”

Upon shipping out orders, each of the candle is wrapped in Binagol (a Tacloban delicacy made with steamed grated gabi with sweet filling inside) style. Chuchie adds, “I use fabric prints that has Tacloban-based café owner Mark Esperancilla’s awe-inspiring photographs of Tacloban and Samar printed on them… You can use it as wall décor, scarf, or a table top accent. You can even frame them if you want. Your imagination’s your limit.” She also wraps them again with sustainable bamboo honeycomb wrap for extra protection. “Just like stories, I want my creations to continue on living even after its purpose has been fulfilled. It’s also my way of making this planet a little less chaotic and cluttered.”

Indeed, @himo.1987‘s whole production process is a long and creative journey, and we’re delighted to get to know more of this Waray’s fondest memories via these handmade candles. “Through products that inspire positivity, Himo hopes to share nuggets of our culture that people can pick up and wear like a badge to keep our Filipino identity alive,” ends Chuchie.