Postcrossing Blog

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

Where were we? When we last heard from the Little Mail Carriers, they were exploring colorful Manila… but there’s still so much to see from the Philippines! So today they’re back with the second and final report of their adventures in this fascinating country. Enjoy!

Our host Jom (aka jugatmos) had told us about the Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros, and we were really looking forward to it! Hundreds of thousands of Marian devotees and more than a hundred images of the Blessed Virgin Mary from different parts of the Philippines are paraded around the old city of Manila, in honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The procession has been taking place since 1619, so for over 400 years — that first year, it lasted 15 days. The procession of beautifully and elaborately-adorned floats (called carrozas) bearing the images of the Blessed Virgin Mary starts at 4pm in front of Manila Cathedral and slowly makes its way through the streets of the Walled City.Have a look!

 The Little Mail Carriers check out the Grand Marian Procession
Note: these photos and videos were taken in December 2019 — the procession was cancelled in 2020.

On the left above, Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu accompanied by the parishioners from San Mateo, Rizal presented to the late Don Ado Escudero, patron of Intramuros and creative master of Villa Escudero with Cofradia de la Inmaculada Conception, Inc. Chairman and 2020 Gawad CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) awardee Danny Dolor.

On the right, the image displayed in front of the cathedral, a 19th century Philippine-made reproduction of the lost centuries-old La Purisma Concepcion of the old San Francisco Church in Intramuros that was destroyed during the Second World War.

Below you can see the Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba (Birhen ng Hapis), carried by the parishioners of Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish Church in front of the cathedral landing. The Laguna town of Pakil celebrates the September fiesta of their image, which is a small painting of the Sorrowful Virgin, with a frenzied dance procession that is believed to be another relic of pre-Christian times. The word “turumba” is from the Tagalog phrase “natumba sa laki ng tuwa” or ‘falling over in great joy’. You can see some of their dance here.

The Little Mail Carriers check out the Grand Marian Procession
Note: these photos and videos were taken in December 2019 — the procession was cancelled in 2020.

It is super impressive, and it goes on for hours! Our host Jom has been designing the event’s souvenir book for the past 10 years, and he usually comes in very early to Intramuros to deliver hundreds of copies to the committee. These are then distributed amongst the carroza owners.

Marian Procession and booklet
Nuestra Señora de la O, said to be a gift from King Carlos III of Spain, is presented among the Cofradia members and guests.

Recovered from all the excitement, we set off to explore Makati city, which felt super fancy! The 350-year-old city is busy with life — from shopping malls, restaurants and business hubs, it’s no wonder that the city holds the most coveted zip code. Indeed, Makati is known to be the classiest city of the Philippines most notably for the residents’ perpetually bustling, busy and ultra-modern lifestyle.

Views of Makati city

Makati got its name from an old tagalog word, “makati”, meaning receding tide. The city was bought for the hefty sum of 52,800 Philippine pesos in 1851 by an ancestor of Zobel de Ayala. Since then, the development of Makati has remained linked with the Ayala family, who has continued to develop the area over the years and as a result, continues to exert influence within the city. Colonised by the Spaniards and the Americans, Makati today is considered as somewhat of a Christian melting pot with so many of its denominations finding its home here.

Views of Makati city

Makati’s population fluctuates at various points of the day. By nighttime, the city has more than half a million residents, but the population can easily balloon up to five million during the daytime as people from neighbouring cities converge in Makati for either work or leisure!

But… how does one get around such a busy place? Turns out, pedicabs and jeepneys are never far away, and they’re super convenient to use!

Jeepneys and Pedicabs

The jeepney (on the left) is a favorite mode of public transportation in the Philippines, also known as “king of the road”. It was made from the surplus jeeps by the Americans left behind during the second World War. The lack of transportation at that time forced the Filipinos to get creative: they gutted and expanded the passenger seats into two rows. The real ones are usually adorned with decorations — we spotted some.

As iconic as the jeepney can be, on the other hand, the pedicab is a small road wonder, an ordinary bicycle that maneuvers a small carriage attached to it. It may look small and primitive but the job it accomplishes in the Pinoy’s everyday routine is enormous. It can ferry about four people to places where access to other public transportation is scarce. The pedicab is one of the most peculiar symbols of the Filipino culture, one that represents ingenuity and spiritedness. And, bonus points: they match the colors of our uniforms! 😍

Ayala Triangle Gardens

Using our jeepney and pedicab, we drove to Ayala Triangle, a park shaped like a triangle that sits right in the center of Makati city. Until the 1950s, this was the Nielsen field, Manila’s pre-World War II airport. After the airfield was closed, it remained a barren open space until it was developed more recently. Two old runways became new avenues framing a calming and beautiful contemporary oasis at the center of the Philippine business community.

This area is brimming with art sculptures, statues and important memorials. We briefly joined the revolution with General Pio del Pilar, who led a group of independentists when the Philippine Revolution broke out in the 1890s. Pio del Pilar was then a resident of an area called Culi-Culi, and as a result of his revolutionary efforts, the general has a barangay (a small district) in Makati named after him.

General Pio del Pilar and Narra tree

We took a rest on the trunk of a narra tree, Philippine’s national tree. The narra symbolises the Filipino people’s indomitable spirit and strength of character, thus the narra’s characteristics of sturdiness and durability.

Did you know that Makati is the selfie capital of the world? We tried taking a few, but it’s not our strong suit.😅 We’re at the Peninsula Manila, a hotel nicknamed “The Pen”. Built in 1976, its lobby quickly became the place “to see and be seen” of Manila’s who’s who, even military tanks have been seen coming through the front door, creating unforgettable memories and witnessed the variety of life in all its drama and excitement.

Little Mail Carriers selfies

Time magazine once categorised the Pen’s special dessert, Halo-Halo Harana (above, on the right), as the world’s “Best Legal High”, so of course we had to give it a try under the iconic ‘Sunburst’ sculpture by National Artist for Sculpture and Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture Napoleon Abueva. Halo-Halo Harana is a mouthwatering mix of macapuno, jackfruit, kaong, nata de coco, sweet beans, garbanzos, pinipig (pounded rice flakes) and ube topped with shaved ice topped with leche flan and ube royal ice cream; a type of Filipino ice cream, is typically made with creamy buffalo milk and purple yam. It’s an amazingly delicious yet complex dish, which seems to reflect in itself the nation’s complex history.

Meeting with Lulu Tesoro Castañeda

We jumped at the opportunity to meet and chat with Atty. Lulu Tesoro Castañeda, who told us about her mother, the late Doña Salud S. Tesoro. Doña Salud was the “Mother of Philippine Handicrafts”, a souvenir trade pioneer and a patron of local crafts. She was so influential that postage stamps were issued to celebrate her centenary, in 2015.

A visit to the Philippines would not be complete without a visit to the Tesoros shop, so we took our time browsing the lovely souvenirs!

Visiting the Tesoros shop

It’s almost time leave, and we’re a little sad at the prospect. To cheer us up, our host has been preparing a balikbayan box, so we can enjoy a little bit of the Philippines when we’re back home. 😊 Also called “repatriation box”, it’s a normal cardboard box containing all sorts of items sent by Filipinos overseas (also known as balikbayans) to their loved ones, returning back home. Oftentimes it is carried with their luggage or they send it to couriers that specialise in sending these boxes. The word itself “balikbayan” means ‘returning to one’s country’.

Packing the balikbayan box

Finally, we went to Makati Central Post Office, where Ms. Natz stamped our passport and declared us ready to leave the country. Sigh… Time for that last slice of buko pie (aka coconut pie) and off we go to new adventures!

Enjoying a last slice of buko pie

Thank you so much to Jom for this amazing report, and for taking good care of the little guys during the lockdown. Off they go… who knows where they’ll pop up next? 😊

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… and so it starts again! 😊

World Postcard Day 2021 logo

We’ve been working behind the scenes on this year’s edition of the World Postcard Day, and today we’d like to announce one of the most exciting parts of it: the graphic design competition to find the official postcard of 2021's events! Last year, we tested by running the contest in Portugal only, together with our friends at Finepaper, a neat printing and design company based in Lisbon. This year, and in the global spirit of postcards, we’re extending the competition to the whole world. So no matter whether you’re a student in Bangladesh, an artist in Argentina, or maybe just someone who really likes drawing, crafts or design — you can participate too!

This year’s theme is “Around the world on a postcard”. The ability to transport us to far away places through the image and words is a really nice characteristic of postcards, and we would like to see this facet featured on this year’s official postcard. How you will choose to make that work is up to you — illustration, photography or some sort of mixed design approach are all valid approaches to the topic. The sky is the limit!

World Postcard Day Contest banner

Will there be prizes? You mean, besides worldwide recognition and the immense satisfaction of seeing your design traveling all around the world? 🤪 Naturally! They’ll be announced on the World Postcard Day contest page soon, along with the rules and juries of the contest.

Digital design submissions open later this month, but we are giving postcrossers an early heads-up so you can start working on your proposals. Gather your pencils or fire up Photoshop, and tell your friends to participate too! The contest will run for around 2 months, and results will be published on the World Postcard Day page (and here on the blog) sometime after the deadline closes. We are really looking forward to seeing your creative ideas pour in!

And if, like many of us, you don’t have a lot of creative bones in your body, this is a good time to start making plans and think how you’ll celebrate this year’s event. While we’re busy poking post offices and big postal museums, you can get in touch with your local libraries, museums, schools or other organizations and invite them to commemorate this date as well! Share your ideas with others in the comments below or in this forum topic — now’s the time to start creating some buzz and prepare to make October 1st the best day in the year!

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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!

Right now, we know that most postcrossers are stuck at home, and postcards are helping everyone travel during quarantine restrictions and lockdown… so this month, we thought it might be nice to chat about our dream holidays—whether that involves traveling or not! This topic was suggested by canchita on the forum.

In May, write about your dream holiday.

I’m a little bit of a homebody. My longest journeys are all fictional: to Fairyland, Middle-Earth, Mars, Eorzea, the past and the future. When I do travel, my first thought is to look up whether our destination has a good bookshop. There are a few locations on my holiday list solely because I’ve heard good things about a bookshop or two, like St. Georges in Berlin, and the Globe Bookstore and Café in Prague.

Museum für Naturkunde

That said, I can also go for a good museum, and I’ve been recommended the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin: I’m curious about their mounted Brachiosaurus skeleton, and they actually house the first ever Archaeopterix fossil as well! Maybe we’ve got our answer here: it’s starting to sound like my ideal holiday is to Berlin, someday, when everything’s safe.

We’d love to hear more about your ideal holiday, whether it involves soaking up some sun or climbing a tricky mountain… or just figuring out how many books you can fit in your suitcase on the way home. You can share in the comments here, and on the cards you send this month!

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Good news, everyone! We’ve been biting our tongues and holding our breaths, but now we can finally share the news with you all: there are 3 new Postcrossing-themed stamps coming in the next few months, and they’re all great! 😍

First up, Guernsey! The three colourful stamps feature animal species that can be found on the Bailiwick: the Golden Guernsey Goat, the Chancre Crab and the Herm Puffin, all mailing postcards around the islands on Guernsey’s blue mailboxes. Such a clever way to mix Postcrossing with their own national living treasures!

Guernsey Postcrossing stamps

These will come out on June 10th, and feature a cool easter egg… if you look really closely, you’ll see they’re being mailed to some of us at the Postcrossing team: the UK stamp is heading out to Nicky (aka shanaqui), the European one is coming to Paulo and me, and the Rest of the World goes out to Vicki (aka mundoo) in Australia. Those are fictional addresses, by the way.

They’re coming out on June 10th, ahead of Postcrossing’s birthday, and they’ll be available for pre-order from Guernsey’s online shop from May 27th, along with maxicards and other fun philatelic collectibles.

Next up, Belarus is issuing this fun Happy Postcrossing stamp! Coincidentally, this is another stamp featuring animals mailing postcards around the world, and it will be issued on July 10th.

Belarus Postcrossing stamp

Belpochta doesn’t have an (international) online shop, but if you’re interested in the stamp you can get in touch with them following the instructions on this page. Turns out, Belpochta does have an international online shop, where they sell stamps and other products — you can find it here. Thank you Lunushka and Capricorn_Belarus for letting us know!

And last but not least, Austria is issuing a Postcrossing-themed stamp in July as well. They chose a more abstract approach to the theme, which aims to represent how the postcard exchanges happen in Postcrossing:

Postcrossing Austrian stamp

The Austrian stamp will be launched on July 14th, which is Postcrossing’s birthday, but should be available for pre-order on their online shop from July 2nd onwards.

And that’s all the good news for today! We look forward to seeing all these playful stamps in many postcards traveling all around the world, filling their recipients’ mailboxes with color and spreading the word about our beloved hobby. 📮

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We love projects that involve mail in some way, and when BorjaBoroda recently brought to our attention Laridian's world quilt, our jaws dropped… a gorgeous quilt, made with fabrics sent to them by postcrossers — what a thing of beauty! 😍

A quilt featuring a world map, with different fabrics covering each country,

Laridian tells us that the whole thing started when the first fabric arrived back in September 2017, and was only recently finished — so a project 3 years and 7 months in the making, slowly accumulating pieces and stories from all over the world. The final work turned out unexpectedly big, measuring 1.27×2.2m (50×87in)… but they say this was actually a good thing, as many smaller countries wouldn’t show up otherwise.

Making the fabrics in the quilt match the sender’s origin would have been an impossible task (as Postcrossing doesn’t have many members in a lot of countries). In the end, there were 120 fabrics from 25 countries, and these were matched to the country based on the size of the piece, the patterns or colors. There are a couple of neat details, like the cow that fits India’s size perfectly! :)

We were curious to know more, so we asked Laridian a few questions about it:

What inspired you to do this map quilt?

I’ve always loved maps and fabric art. I’d previously made a cross stitch map of the world, I enjoyed making a cross stitch map of the world, and I wanted to do something similar for my love of Postcrossing. I’m a fabric artist and making a map seemed like a good way to show my love for both.

Did members share stories about these fabrics with you, when they sent it?

Yes they did! It was a great part of the project, hearing their stories. Such as how the fabric came from their wedding dress – I have more than one of those! – or clothes made by the postcrosser’s grandparent, or for the postcrosser’s grandchildren. Some of the fabrics have national symbols and designs, and others are mass market. More than one said they were glad to see the fabric go on to a new life in this project.

While most of these were received with postcards, a handful of fabrics were sent without postcards by Postcrossers who had heard about the project and wanted to contribute.

Did you have a few favourite fabrics?

It’s so hard to choose! Some that stand out for me, however:

An African detail of the world quilt map A detail from northern Europe, in the world quilt map

Angola has a little surfing dog. By the time I received the fabric, I was working on Africa, and searching for “surfing in Africa” brought back the result of Angola. And also the moose (elk) of Finland! That fabric did come from Finland.

Detail of mushroom patterned fabric, in French Guiana

It’s just a tiny piece, but the orange mushroom fabric used for French Guiana in South America.

How do you feel about it, having completed this nice endeavour?

I’m so proud of it! :D And I loved getting fabrics and the stories behind them from postcrossers. It was a wonderful surprise to receive them in the mail along with the postcards.

I still have fabrics left, and I’ve received more, so I’ve started my next “Postcrossing Quilt”. It won’t be a map this time, though! I’m looking at a more traditional quilting pattern to use the new fabrics. I don’t have room to hang another huge map! :)

Congratulations Laridian, and good luck for your next crafty project. We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with!

PS – For even more inspiration, check out Annett’s quilt and Marina’s scarf of friendship, featured previously on the blog.

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