These times have seen us mix and match old and new routines to find out what personally suits us, and for a lot of Filipinos, nature has beckoned them to pause from the chaos of life. One of the best people that can attest to that is Filipino journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon.
In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe, Ces shared her journey of healing and finding the joy in her newfound passion during the pandemic and how it led her to start a new business called Provenciana.
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In pursuit of healing
It all started when the former ABS-CBN broadcaster looked for new ways to repurpose her produce from Vagabond Farms, her farm with her former partner. Ces was also looking for a way to channel her pain from a heartbreaking loss, so she took on different aromatherapy workshops like soap making and natural perfumery, and later on learned how to make smudge sticks. Smudge sticks are bundled herbs and flowers often used in different types of rituals to cleanse a person, object, or area of any negative energy.
Not long after learning to make smudge sticks, Ces boasted about her creations to her friend and fellow broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez-Roxas, who also happened to be looking for sage to cleanse her home. Sanchez-Roxas ordered 20 sticks from her, and it all took off from there—businesswise and self-wise, as Ces regained a source of energy from crafting and smudging.
“When I took that natural perfumery course, it really opened up a whole new world for me," Ces said.
"I was already into plants; I grew herbs and I was, at that time, infusing plant-based alcohol with herbs for the scent, and creating products from plants that could heal and nurture [like her Dymka dog shampoo bar]. But when I took that class, I was just so energized. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is what I can do…’ It was heaven-sent because it was at a time when I was really troubled, and it was another gift from the universe that I happened to take that course,” she added.
It’s so fulfilling when you get feedback because this is about dealing with your inner turmoil or anxieties. We get to be messaged a lot by people who have their problems and when they share how it has been very positive for them.
‘Back to the basics’
Her latest venture, Provenciana, takes us back to our roots by using 100% natural ingredients.
She explained, “The name Provenciana came to me because it’s really about going back to basics and discovering and applying the bounty of nature to heal our bodies and our souls.”
Ces added that her fascination for traditional or ancient medicinal practices such as medicinal smoke, as well as her intuitive side, serve as her calling and inspiration to be “an instrument for others to feel good.”
Ces happily shared: "Funny because I was shy pa at first to advertise or to post that I was selling smudge sticks. I’m so happy, the feedback is amazing," adding that a couple said they "had the best sleep in the longest time" after using the smudge stick.
"It’s so fulfilling when you get feedback because this is about dealing with your inner turmoil or anxieties. We get to be messaged a lot by people who have their problems and when they share how it has been very positive for them, we’re so happy,” she continued.
A labor of love
From bundling them in bags with handwritten notes to selling them in neat packages through a full-blown website, Ces also went on to acknowledge how much Provenciana became a family business in no time and how each of her two sons as well as her daughter-in-law brought something to the table to help their mom actualize her passion, turning the one-woman business into a group enterprise.
"I’m so happy to be working with my sons. It’s such a gift, because each one of us has their own strong points and skill sets. Taken as a whole, the four of us kind of blend all these skills, we support each other in that way," Ces shared.
She also shared that she "found making them (smudge sticks) very healing."
"It’s like you’re sending positive vibes to someone," Ces said.
Bounce back better and love yourself best
Ces credits her setbacks during the pandemic as a stepping stone towards her new undertaking, which has not only given her personal joy, but also allowed her to share it with others.
"What may seem like a setback to you or a crisis in your life can actually be a blessing because it leads you to new things. If I were not retrenched from ABS-CBN, if the pandemic did not happen, I would not have had the time," the wellness aficionado shared.
"Crisis ‘yong pandemic, ‘yong being heartbroken, being down, but then you can turn it around and become a blessing.”
For her, it’s all looking up from here as Provenciana Naturals eyes to expand its range of products.
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From the current lineup of the Cecilia Smudge Stick, Smudge Stick in a Bottle, Anti-Bug Spray, Insect Repellent Oil, and Artisanal Soap, Ces wants to make a solid perfume made from a combination of beeswax and virgin coconut oil, healing balms, and even wants to open a greenhouse to plant more herbs and flowers to be used in her products. For pet owners out there, you can watch out for the Dymka Shampoo Bar for Pets, which will be transferred from Vagabond Farms to the Provenciana line soon.
From these recent wins in her life, Ces wants to impart how necessary it is to take time for yourself and find simple joys in your day-to-day life. She shared, “Before you start your day, it’s important to be thankful. Start your day with a quiet time, look at a mirror and affirm yourself, and look at beautiful things. Look at the sunrise, the moon, the setting sun, your little plant that sprouted a new leaf.”
Crisis ‘yong pandemic, ‘yong being heartbroken, being down, but then you can turn it around and become a blessing.
Ces added how self-care also draws great importance from physically caring for yourself: “Start the day na maligo ka agad. Days that I delay my bath are days that are not so good."
"When you bathe, be mindful: think about how you’re washing away the dirt or how the water feels on your hair or your body, not just go through the motions. Bathing is a luxurious thing. When I was kidnapped before, I only bathed once, and I can’t tell you how uplifting [it was]. It gave me hope, ‘yong when you’re refreshed as compared to the days na hindi ka naliligo… Transform your mundane experiences into something more meaningful.”
In all this, Ces shared how this pandemic has taught her to see something new in the things we’re usually oblivious to.
“’Ayun naman ang blessing. I hope we don’t lose that ability to be able to [pause and] see,” Ces said.
Know more about Ces’s smudge sticks by visiting here.