Thursday, February 22, 2024

Philippine’s Mother of Giant Mandala Crochet: Adelaida Cosejo Guia

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There are many forms of art. Be it painting, sculpture, pop and contemporary art, photography, music, theater, literature, architecture, etc. they all are products of expression, creativity, skill and imagination. The art of crochet represent diverse styles, unusual shapes and exquisite textures that characterize the product itself. The word crochet comes from the French word “croche” which means hook. It is done with a hook instead of a needle to make a texture of looped and interlinked chains of thread. It has been traditionally regarded as a craft rather than an art in the 19th century in Europe where it was referred as the ‘shepherd’s knitting’. All that has changed when many crochet masterpieces has been showing up on sidewalks in various forms and styles that is difficult to ignore, crochet has become popular and a big part of fashion, installation and exhibits all over the world. Just some trivia: The longest crochet chain measures 130km and was created by Annevanier-Drussel of France in 2009. The largest crochet blanket in the world was made as part of Mandela Day celebrations in 2015 measuring 3,133 square meters. Wow! Now, let’s get to know the Filipina crocheter who has been making waves because of her gigantic mandala crochet from the city of Pines.

Adelaida Cosejo Guia or simply “Adel” was born in Lucena City, Quezon province on December 16, 1969. She studied at Paaralang Bayan ng Lucban 1 in Lucban, Quezon during her elementary days and at Lucban Academy in high school. She took up Bachelor in Accountancy and Law at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila. She is married to Philip Tadoy Guia and blessed with 5 kids: Ezekiel, Jeniel, Danielli, Azriel and Giddiel. They are now based in Baguio City. It was really a dream for her to live in this beautiful city. She used to see her mother crochet bed spread, curtains, table runners, etc. from the day she knew the ABC’s and all those toddlers early lessons. So she grew up literally wondering about yarns and hooks. She just found herself crocheting by herself and learned by looking. During grade school, she started earning money from crochet projects in school. Thanks to her classmates who don’t know how to crochet. And the rest is history.

Almost all of her children knew how to crochet particularly the Amigurumi dolls, except for the youngest one who will learn eventually. Her husband (who is half-Igorot) on the other hand make some handicrafts and accessories. It is him who really encouraged her to do a mandala crochet. His husband’s tattoo artist friends have the mandala backdrops on their studios, so he suggested to make one similar to that. She was hesitant at first, but when she saw the “Mandala Madness” designed by Helen Shrimpton, she finally tried and ended up making 4 pieces of 55-inch mandala pattern, just using a Monaco yarn. Upon strolling around at Hangar (market with different yarns), she saw a rug yarn, bought 10 kilos and thought of using it. When pandemic came, majority of her family were afflicted by COVID-19. Three out of seven tested positive so for a month she took a sick leave and along with her family, they were quarantined. Since they cannot go out, she make use of her time at home by crocheting more. It was a blessing in disguise that she finished the giant mandala before Baguio’s premier artisans market: Mandeko Kito 4 (Ibagiw 2021 Creative City Festival). She was part of the Pasakalye Group of Artist.

Aside from crocheting, Adelaida works too as a home-based customer service representative in the evening. Lucky for her, she still can multitask: crocheting while answering calls. Crochet is a big part of their family life. It has become a family business as well. They launched their ABIAKAK (Kakaiba when read backwards) business offering yarn products, crochet products and handicrafts. When her giant mandala became viral on social media, her talent was being recognized by the people and she was contacted by the different forms of media: TV shows, newspapers, on-line features, exhibits, etc. People from Baguio or tourists flock the session road in Baguio City to have a look and take a picture of these amazing giant mandala crochet. If you go to Bencab Museum, you will be greeted by her mandala on one of the walls there. To date she holds her personal record of doing the mandala madness measuring 120 inches and a star mandala approximately 145 inches. How amazing!

Exhibits/Shows:

Pasakalye Exhibit at SM Baguio (2020-2022) Bencab Museum, Crochet Wall Decor Display Sentro Artista, Crochet Wall Decor Display 12th Tam-Awan International Arts Festival, Oct 5-9, 2022 Mandeko Kito 4, (Ibagiw Creative City Festival, 2021)

Features:

*Daily Tribune, Baguio City Local Paper *Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb 14, 2022 *Session Road’s New Draw, Mandal *Philippine Star, Aug 30, 2022. “Crochet artist, Adelaida Guia” *Philippine Star Nation, Oct 03, 2022, An oversized mandala along Session Road *Daily Tribune, May 08, 2022, “Mother of Mandalas” *Beat Asia : Pop Culture, Sept 26, 2022, “Meet Adelaida Guia, the Crocheter Behind Baguio’s Giant Mandala” *AMIANAN Volume XII, Issue #9, Jan 15, 2023

TV Interviews:

*NET25 Kada Umaga : “Kita mo Yun”, April 27, 2022 *ABS CBN Teleradyo With Winnie Cordero And May Ceniza : “Hapinay”, Sept 09, 2022 *GMA Regional TV, Sept 19, 2022 *RNG Luzon Morning Balitaktakan, Oct, 14, 2022 *PTV4 RISE AND SHINE, Oct 20, 2022 *Students Interview from San Beda College Alabang, SLU Baguio, UP Baguio, PSL Lucban Quezon

Though crocheting is fun, for Adel, she has also her own struggles. It is quite frustrating sometimes for her to fix and pull out a lot of stitches when she make mistakes. Not to mention the lack of yarn and sometimes options are limited. Crochet requires long hours of work with hands that can lead sometimes to medical conditions such as RSI or repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel and tendonitus. Fortunately, she hasn’t experience those injuries. Adel’s advice to future crocheter is to continue what they love and be an inspiration to each other. It may be difficult at first, but eventually thru hard work, practice and creativeness, one can achieve what they aim for. Her simple mantra in life is to live simple, always wear a smile and be grateful in everything to the Lord.

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