by Zion Yuson

12 NOVEMBER 2020 – Some people are born with beautiful voices; some are gifted with a unique style of writing; some are given long and flexible fingers, perfect for playing instruments; some are born with a superior sense of aesthetics; and a very special few are born with all the aforementioned.

Last October 24, we were lucky enough to have a one-of-a-kind speaker for the Fellows Night. Ms. Therese Lansangan, or simply Reese, is the all-around creative- she’s primarily a singer-songwriter, but she also has her fair share of artistry in fashion design, graphic design, and poetry, to name a few. With her distinguished style of art, Reese stands out as a part of the very special few.

She burst into the Original Pinoy Music scene back in 2009 and has since then written two songs that have been featured in two of NASA’s international space campaigns. Her most popular hits include Grammar Nazi and Exploration No. 5, and her latest EP, Playing Pretend in the Interim, has also recently been released. A graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Information Design, Reese first pursued graphic and fashion design – skills which she puts to good use up to this day, with some of her artworks viewable on her website. 

Without a doubt, Reese is a gifted artist, and last Fellows Night, she generously shared with us  her brief guide on how to maintain our creativity, most especially now in the time of the pandemic, where most of us have found ourselves living monotonously and experiencing creative blocks, both at work and in school.  

According to Reese, creativity arises in three main situations: when the need to be creative arises (necessity), when boredom strikes, and when curiosity hits. During the pandemic, we’ve all done creative things, and we can trace them to these three instances. 

Businesses have been hit badly by the virus, leaving most people with little or no source of income. The need for an extra source of income has then led many people to find creative ways to find that extra source. Specialty pastries from mochi-filled cookies to ube pandesal have been some new sources of income for people stuck at home, like you and me. The need for extra income has driven them to exercise their baking skills, and just like that, they were creative even without being conscious of it. 

Another situation where creativity arises is in boredom. This situation is one that has surely been experienced by everyone at one point or another during this time. There are really some days when time moves really slow and you find yourself without anything to do. This situation can lead us to doing random things like rearranging our rooms, trying out a new instrument, or making arts and crafts, which again are very creative pursuits. 

And lastly, another situation where creativity arises is curiosity. We follow other people on social media and sometimes, their experiments make us curious and we end up trying them out too! Some famous experiments that became hits this pandemic include sourdough bread, dalgona coffee, and sushi bake.

Another instance in which our curiosity leads to creativity is when we desire to help out and serve others in need. When we see their situations and become curious about how we can help them, we often come up with very creative ways to help. These creative helpful ways have really been everywhere this pandemic, from online fundraisers, to online concerts, and even to offering rides and meals to our dear frontliners. 

In order to maximize our creativity, Reese gives us these tips:

  1. Track everything – write all ideas you come across.
  2. Review Ideas – look through your notes and look for things you can use in your creative pursuit.
  3. Make time to create – dedicate some time to actually getting your creative work done.

As an ending note, Reese talked about what we can do to release our creativity in the pandemic, and she came up with points for each of the three situations. For necessity, we should just use the lack of goods as an opportunity for us to create. Look around for where you can help out, may it be in your family business, or maybe your own personal business, and for sure, you will find an opportunity for you to come up with creative solutions for those. 

In times of boredom, you can always ask yourself the following questions: Is there anything you can fix or make better? Is there any hobby or old interest you’d like to pick up? And lastly, is there anything you want to declutter, clean, or clear out? Asking these questions won’t surely get you out of your boredom, but it is a sure fire way to get started at something, and that is always better than nothing. 

For curiosity, we can ask ourselves: Are there any experiments we’d like to try out? And is my community doing well – is there anyone in need or anyone I can help? This time is also the perfect time to reconnect with friends and just check up on them and how they’re doing. 

It may seem like such a big challenge for us to overcome our “creative block”, but no pressure! Take your time, be patient with yourself, and remember that little things become big things, and that the key to achieving something is to practice with patience. Be flexible with the deadlines you give yourself and ask feedback from your friends and family when you need to. At the end of the day, it’s okay if we didn’t graduate with a fine arts degree, or if we aren’t talented musicians, like Reese. As Reese herself mentioned, we don’t need to be any of these to be creative, because anybody with the capacity to make anything, is a creative. –

Group photo of some of the participants of the Fellows’ Night with Reese Lansangan (bottom row)

NOTA BENE: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and the speakers mentioned in the article, and not necessarily to the Foundation.