Often, when people think of the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, they think of news headlines about separatist groups and violence. And while these are issues residents have to deal with, there is also plenty of joy to be found on the Philippines’ southernmost island.
Jeanalyn is helping add to the joy. The 44-year-old mother of three works at one of the most famous theme parks in the Philippines: Gloria de Dapitan (Gloria’s Fantasyland). The park is about seven hours northeast of Zamboanga, where Unbound’s main program office for Mindanao is located. Jeanlyn’s oldest daughter, Jeanrose,11, is sponsored by John and Mary from Georgia.
If you were to visit the theme park, you wouldn’t meet Jeanalyn as you walk its pathways, but you’d see her creations being worn by performers. As head of the costume department, Jeanalyn is allowed to let her creativity shine.
“My job here is really to sew the costumes of the performers for the show,” she said. “They just give me the skits and looks from the web [for inspiration], and I’ll be the one to think of the way to make it — which fabric to use, accessories to use and the linings to make it elegant to look at. Costumes of fairies, animals, dwarfs, even magicians and dancers, that’s what I do.”
Jeanalyn learned how to sew from her grandmother and has been sewing since she was 15-years-old. Her husband, Roseller, used to be a farmer, but has since learned how to sew from Jeanalyn and now works with her in the costume shop. With the daily wear on the costumes, she needs the additional help to keep them in good shape, as creating new ones takes time.
“It takes just one day [to make] if the costume is not that complicated, but if it is complicated and they need five or more pieces of it, it will take two to three days to finish it,” Jeanalyn said.
Jeanalyn would like to open her own shop someday, but for now she’s grateful for her job and the help she receives from her daughter’s sponsors, which made it possible for her to stay close to her family instead of taking a job abroad.
“There’s a lot of work offered for me abroad, but I didn’t accept it. I don’t want to be far from my family,” Jeanalyn said. “Thank you to the sponsor of my daughter and to Unbound because you’ve been a great help for us.”
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