Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

We’ve just received an unexpected report from the Little Mail Carriers, all the way from the Philippines! We don’t know exactly when they were there as mail has been slow to leave the country in the past year… but we’re definitely not complaining — there’s so much to see in this amazing country, and it’s a treat to get a glimpse of it through the eyes of our little intrepid wanderers. Join us for another fantastic report of their travels!

Our host Jom (aka jugatmos) told us that the late Carlos Celdran (a popular cultural activist and performance artist) used to say: “If you can’t find beauty and poetry in Manila, you’ll never find it anywhere.”

Manila is commonly used to refer to the whole metropolitan area (Metro Manila), which includes not just Manila City itself but also Makati, Quezon City and 14 other cities, merged together in a huge metropolitan area. Today we’re focusing on the City of Manila itself, the place with most of the historical and iconic landmarks in the Philippines.

Little P waves in front of the National Museum of Anthropology

In order to learn more about the history and culture of the country, we’ll make a stop at the National Museum of the Philippines, which is actually a group of different museums housing the nation’s treasures. First on our list is the National Museum of Anthropology, formerly known as the Museum of the Filipino People, located in the Rizal Park.

Laguna Copperplate inscription

Here we can see the Laguna Copperplate, a document that shows the use of mathematics, inscribed in the Shaka year 822 (corresponding to Monday, April 21, 900 AD) and the earliest known calendar-dated document used within the Philippines Islands. This document is demonstrative of pre-Hispanic literacy and culture, and is considered to be a national treasure.

Baybayin writing script

Baybayin can be seen on the windows of the museum! Have you heard of it before? This is one of the Philippines many ancient writing systems, used before the popularization of Latin characters in the archipelago.

Filipino traditional dresses Filipino traditional dresses

And look at that these traditional attires — they’re made of piña, which are the fibers from pineapple leaves. Early Filipino clothing used several different fibers, including piña, jusi and abaca. The Maria Clara gown on the right, sometimes referred to as Filipiniana dress or traje de mestiza, is a traditional dress worn by women in the Philippines. It is composed of four different parts: a blouse, a long skirt, a cloth to wear over the shoulders, and a knee-length over-skirt.

Fabric weaving demonstration

Live demonstrations of fabric weaving from the Maranao and Maguindanao people were taking place on the day of our visit, to a really interested crowd — look at how colorful those fabrics are!

After the National Museum of Anthropology, we took a detour to the National Museum of Fine Arts, to marvel at its architecture and take a peek at some famous paintings…

National Museum of Fine Arts — architectural details National Museum of Fine Arts — architectural details

…like the “Parisian Life” by Filipino painter and revolutionary activist Juan Luna, or “The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines” by visual artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco. This mural was specially commissioned for the entrance of Philippine General Hospital and was later declared a national cultural treasure.

The Parisian Life The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines

The last stop on our Museum tour is the Museum of Natural History, a building with striking architecture where we met Lolong, the world’s largest crocodile to ever be measured. After he died in captivity in 2013, he was brought to the museum, where his remains were taxidermied.

Natural History Museum in Manila Natural History Museum in Manila - skeleton of Lolong

No visit to Manila would be complete without a stroll in Intramuros, the walled city within the city of Manila (intra = inside, muros = walls) which today remains rich and intact in its cultural significant. It was considered to be the educational and religious center in colonial times, where original campuses of the University of Santo Tomas (the oldest university in Asia) were once located. As Filipino writer Nick Joaquin would say, “Intramuros! The Old Manila. The original Manila. The noble and ever loyal city…”

Casa Manila in Intramuros Historical Café Barbara's

Inside the walls of Intramuros we stumbled on Casa Manila, a museum depicting colonial lifestyle during the Spanish colonization, which is a copy of an 1850s San Nicolas House that was once located in Calle Jaboneros. We took a rest at the packed heritage café Barbara’s nearby, before gearing up to visit the magnificent Manila cathedral as well as the San Agustin Church, the oldest stone church in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Manila Cathedral San Agustin Church

Below you can see the gates of Fort Santiago. Built in 1590, it remains as one of the most important historical sites in Manila, as many significant events took place in it throughout the years.

Fort Santiago gates

One of these was the imprisonment of national hero Jose Rizal. Rizal’s writings partly inspired the Philippine Revolution, although he was not involved in its planning. He was held in Fort Santiago before being executed by the Spanish colonial government in 1896 for the crime of rebellion, and did not get to see his home country gain independence just 2 years later.

Jose Rizal cell at Fort Santiago Jose Rizal memorial steps

Rizal spent his last 24 hours in a chapel converted into a prison, before marching to his execution in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park). There’s a memorial trail that traces his steps to the park, which we followed as night fell. There we found Rizal Monument, the final resting place of this martyr.

Jose Rizal National Monument

Entitled "Motto Stella” (Guiding Star), the monument by Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling is composed of a standing bronze sculpture of Rizal in overcoat holding a book that represents his novels Noli Me Tángere and El Filibusterismo, with an obelisk commonly understood as Rizal’s masonic background with its three stars standing for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao (the three main island groups), set on a granite stone base inside of which his remains are interred.

There are at least 118 Rizal monuments in the Philippines with an exact replica in Madrid, Spain. Other similar monuments can be found in Wilhelmsfeld (Germany), Jinjiang, Fujian (China), Cherry Hill Township (New Jersey), San Diego (California), and Seattle (Washington), Reforma Avenue in Mexico City (Mexico), La Molina in Lima (Peru), Litomerice (Czech Republic), and Singapore to name a few.

We were told the monument has a “photo bomber”, an ugly residential building that peeks out on the right side, spoiling a lot of the photos… So we’re glad we decided to take our selfie there at night! 😜

This report is getting long already, but there’s still so much more we have to show you, so much to discover in the Philippines… So stay tuned for further broadcasts!

PS – Our huge thank you to jugatmos for this fantastic report, and for taking the time to show the little guys around so many interesting places!

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One of my favorite topics on the forum is the one where people share their handmade postcards. I’m always in awe of postcrossers’ talents, often marveling at their technique and creativity! Looking through these postcard inspires me to create and try new things myself, and I’m hoping they do to you too… so I’m sharing a few of them here on the blog. Prepare for a colorful avalanche of awesomeness! 😍

The topic was started by Claas (aka Speicher3), back in October last year. Claas does some really witty collages using stamps and other paper materials, and mentions buying hundreds of 0,01€ stamps in France, just for postcard making experiments!

Speicher3 Briefmarkendialog

Katia (aka brighteyes) draws different buildings on her walkabouts through a city, and turns them into these beautiful postcards!

brighteye's postcards brighteye's postcards

Collages are Robin’s (aka MrsPaull) expertise, and they really draw us in — the more we look, the more we discover in them.

MrsPaull's postcards MrsPaull's postcards

Gesa (aka MissMichelsen) has a huge talent for watercolor and uses it to make stunning postcards:

MissMichelsen postcardsMissMichelsen postcards

Christine (aka reisegern) sometimes does letterpressed postcards, using vintage plates from a printing museum — how seriously cool is that?!

reisegern's postcards

Another one for the collage team! Mette (aka metlodyt) puts together these lovely pieces with stamps and other paper materials:

metlodyt's postcards card for yuki

Jennemieke mentions doodling this postcard during one of her online meetings, which is such a great idea! How many of us could use something to keep our hands entertained while we listed to someone?

Jennemieke's postcards

Look at the level of detail in these postcards, illustrated by Rachelle (aka LotsOfOtters)!

LotsOfOtters's postcardsLotsOfOtters's postcards

haathi from India makes these unexpected postcards, shaped like bearded men — they’re so good!

haathi's postcards haathi's postcards

Mixing different styles together in a collage is Blue’s (aka Blue69) approach, and the results are delightful!

Blue69's postcards Blue69's postcards

This is a really tiny sample of all the wonderful creations shared and there’s loads more on the forum topic, so do check it out. And if you make your own mailable art, please don’t be shy and come share it with the community.

May we all be so lucky as to find one of these in our mailbox someday! 😍

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The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

Do you remember the books that you read when you were a child? For many people, these are the books that have stuck with them their whole lives—or books which still raise a smile now when you see the artwork or spot the books in a shop. They can be very specific to your country, or books which cross borders… so we thought it would be nice to prompt everyone to talk about those childhood books.

In April, write about your favourite children’s books, or books you remember from when you were a child.
There's a Hippopotatmus on Our Roof...

I’ve always been a big fan of reading, from the days when my parents would have to read me to sleep, to reading The Hobbit by torchlight so my parents wouldn’t catch me reading at night, to my endless quest through all kinds of books now. One of the very first books I remember is one no one else seems to remember: There’s A Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake by Hazel Edwards! I always loved hippos, and this book is part of why. The hippo eats cake when he likes and nobody tells him what to do—hmm, I wonder what appealed to me as a child!

As I learned to read myself, I loved reading the classic childhood choices like Enid Blyton, Edith Nesbit and Roald Dahl, and though I was very quick to move onto my mum’s bookshelves (where I found Isaac Asimov and David Eddings and started a lifelong love of fantasy and sci-fi), I also remember being keen on grabbing the next Animorphs book each time one came out!

How about you? Do you have any strong memories of the books you read as a child? Maybe you can even get postcards with the characters on, if you were a fan of characters like Nijntje (Miffy), Winnie-the-Pooh and the Moomins… This month, why don’t you share about about those childhood favourites with the people you write to on Postcrossing? We’d love to hear about them in comments, as well, especially the ones unique to your country!

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Here it is, another post in which we do our best to extract some juicy statistics from the 2020 census! But before we dive in, a quick note to remind everyone that these are results based on a survey of about 30,000 replies. Although we expect the data to be somewhat representative of the Postcrossing community, we can’t quite extrapolate that these portray an accurate sample of all postcrossers. For instance, children may be less likely to reply to questionnaires and Google Forms is blocked in some countries, to mention just a couple of factors that might skew the results. So, please take them with a grain of salt. Ok, let’s do this then!

First off, how happy are postcrossers with their country’s postal service?

A graph depicting how satisfied postcrossers are with their postal service

Reasonably happy, it turns out! The majority of respondents seem to have a positive impression of their postal service’s work. You might remember we’ve run this same poll back in 2017, and the results were somewhat similar. We’re curious to track this sentiment in the next few years, and check how it changes over time.

And where do you usually mail your postcards?

A graph depicting the location from which people usually send mail

Street mailboxes continue to reign supreme, with post office alternatives being popular as well. A good number of you (almost exclusively in the USA) mentioned also sending postcard from home, and though we don’t mind our ride to the post office for the chance to stretch our legs, we are a bit jealous of those of you who only have to walk a few steps to send your mail. How convenient is that?! This is another question we had previously polled in 2017, and street mailboxes seem to have gained a bit of terrain since then. Interesting!

Next, where do postcrossers get their postcards from? This was a question where you could choose several options, and here are the top results:

A graph depicting where postcrossers buy their postcards from

Isn’t that interesting? Online shops are used nearly as much as local postcard shops these days, which is perhaps no surprise with the pandemic. Tourist centers and museums also seem to be popular options, with post offices and supermarkets coming after that. This was also an open-ended question, so many of you typed in other options, like artists, airports, auctions, fairs, gas stations, postcard shows or even drugstores and pharmacies! It’s amazing to see this kind of variety — postcards are everywhere!

Turning to Postcrossing specifically, we asked how many postcards (with Postcard IDs) members send through Postcrossing every month on average, and these were the results:

A graph depicting how many postcards (with Postcard IDs) members send per month

So the majority of the postcrossers who replied to the survey sends less than 5 postcards per month, with a further 30% sending about double of that. Although the interval between these numbers isn’t always the same, the more you move up the numbers, the less people there are at each level, as one would expect.

And given these numbers, are postcrossers happy with how many postcards they can send at the moment?

A graph depicting how happy people are with how many postcards they can send in Postcrossing

Looks like most members are happy with their current limits, with about a quarter wishing they could send more, and a few noting that they’d like to send less. Some of you wrote that you would enjoy sending more postcards, but cannot do so as international mail is becoming quite expensive in your country, which we definitely understand. 😔

And finally, how many other postcards (for direct swaps, forum trades, friends and family, etc) do postcrossers send per month, on average?

A graph depicting how many other postcards do postcrossers send per month

It seems that most of you send just a few extra postcards every month. This matches our own experience as well, sending a few birthday postcards or swap postcards throughout the year, when the fancy strikes.

So… what do you think? Where do you sit in these statistics? Do the averages more or less match your experience, or are you more of an outlier in some of these graphs?

For us, it’s definitely been an interesting process to parse this data, and slowly discover more about the Postcrossing community. There are still plenty of spreadsheet rows to go through, and we look forward to sharing more census results with you in the coming months. Stay tuned!

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Have you ever helped out with a stamp appeal? We’ve highlighted a few of these initiatives before, because it’s something a lot of postcrossers are able to do — if you’ve been storing up used stamps waiting for something like this, then now’s your opportunity!

A banner reading: Support the bone cancer stamp appeal, next to the logo of the BCRT (the Queen's profile inside of a stamp

This time, new member StampLady let us know about the Bone Cancer Research Trust Stamp Appeal. The Bone Cancer Research Trust are a British charity dedicated to helping tackle primary bone cancers via research, providing information, raising awareness and offering support to those affected.

How can used stamps help, though? Well, once they reach BCRT, they sort them into categories and then sell them in bulk by weight. They get sold to collectors and dealers, and some special stamps also get sold by auction. In this way, the stamps are used to raise money by reusing all those old stamps which for many people no longer have a purpose. They’re able to use all kinds of stamps, no matter where they come from, whether they’re British stamps or from other countries, and no matter what the actual face value of the stamp is.

You can contribute any stamps you have by collecting up your stamps (they suggest cutting them out and leaving a 1cm border around them) and then once you have a bundle, you can send them to:

BCRT Stamp Appeal
20 Bowers Road
Benfleet
Essex
SS7 5PZ
UNITED KINGDOM

If you’d like to read more about the appeal, check out their info page! You can also read more about the work of the Bone Cancer Research Trust on their website.

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