Joy has been elusive amid the pandemic.
The hospital wards filled to its capacity with sick patients, tired frontliners, jobless jeepney drivers, and questionable government decisions don’t paint a hopeful reality whenever we browse through our news feeds or turn on our TVs.
Everyone’s encouraged to stay at home to reduce the transmission of the disease. It’s a good move, but it has taken its toll on people, particularly those who struggle with mental health. Being stuck at home means you have more time to think. More time to think means more moments of depressive episodes and feelings of hopelessness.
I would know; I struggled with depression. Currently, I wrestle with anxiety.
But out of this depression, I found a way to somehow share the joy of the Lord not just to myself, but to friends and strangers — all thanks to a tiny cookie cooking accident.
Accidents Happen; So Do Miracles
One day, I learned to cook cookies in a pan. The eager beaver in me started to whip out a recipe according to a YouTube video I came across. But something went wrong with the recipe. So while the cookies were baking, I hoped they would come out OK.
To my surprise, they came out better than OK. They became cookie muffins (or coofies, as I fondly call them). Because of the delicious results, I experimented with the same recipe but with different flavors. They all turned out great!
The coofies also gave me a good excuse to send them to friends. The pandemic has made it hard for me to express my two love languages: giving gifts and words of affirmation. But thanks to the coofies, I managed to send a friend some sweet treats plus offer some encouragement via a hand-written letter.
It was during this time that one of the friends I sent a bunch of coofies told me: “Why don’t you start your business?”
Me — a writer who almost failed math, an introvert who’s scared of talking people — start a business?
I could barely look at people in the eye online. I barely shared anything on my news feed. I’m stingy with money, so the idea of investing on an uncertain business scared me. why bother?
“Why not?” she asked. “You’ve got nothing to lose.”
It took a great deal of praying, episodes of anxiety, and consultations with friends before I gave in. That’s when Ligaya was born.
The Ligaya Cookie Project isn’t your ordinary cookie muffin business — at least, I don’t want it to be.
It’s a passion project with one goal: to spread joy and happiness, one coofie at a time. Ligaya spreads joy via three ways:
- The customer. For P150 pesos, customers can get ten coofies of the flavor of their choice. Currently, there are six: Brown Sugar Choc-Chip, Oreo Crim Chiz, Really Red Velvet, Ube-Chiz, Maple Cinnamon, and Sunshine Sprinkle. Customers with a sweet tooth, who crave a different kind of cookie, or just need a “Stressed na ako, I deserve this!” break can indulge in cookie muffins made with love.
Apart from the coofies, customers get a hand-written note, too. The handwritten note contains words of encouragement and a joke (if I can think of one). As a fan of receiving letters, I hope to spread joy by writing to all of my customers.
So far, my customers love them both. They enjoy munching on the coofies, but not before reading the note that comes with each order.
- The courier. Each batch comes with extra coofies made for the Grab/Lalamove/Mr. Speedy drivers. Apart from the cookie muffins, the riders also get a note of encouragement.
I’ve admired our couriers, especially since they’ve done a lot of work during the pandemic since people can’t always go out. I hoped to make them smile despite of the hard day’s work. I love their reactions whenever they get their free coofies and note. You see it in their eyes and you can hear it in their “Nako, salamat, ma’am! God bless po!” They appreciate the little things made with love.
I tell customers prior to the delivery of their coofies about the note and the treats for the couriers. I also tell the couriers that the coofies are from my customers. I hope to promote a conversation between the two so that somehow, they can encourage one another.
- Me. I’ve long struggled with anxiety and feelings of hopelessness, despite knowing confidently that God is in control of all things. During the first months of the pandemic, I struggled with feeling helpless — wanting to help my fellowmen but stuck inside of my home.
I came across Psalm 27 during one of my quiet nights. The 13th verse hit me hard:
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
Prior to this, David talks about wanting to be in God’s presence, which for me is “SAME.” Who wants to stay here on earth when it’s filled with sickness and misery? When I read this line, I was hopeful to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
But then the Lord impressed on my heart, “Why don’t you be said goodness in the land of the living?”
So here we are.
Ligaya sa Gitna ng Pandemya
Ligaya is nearly two months old. So far, my journey with her has been incredible.
I’ve had Grab riders send me photos of their kids enjoying the free coofies they get or the coofies my customer actually buy for them. Customers also send me photos of their family enjoying the coofies. Some of them show off their creative photography skills by sending me their IG-worthy snapshots of the coofies.
The stories she brings I share on her Facebook page to hopefully put a positive spin on everyone’s news feeds. Look for #KwentongLigaya and you’ll read tales of swapped notes, customers surprising their couriers, relief operations teams enjoying their free coofies, etc.
Also, busying myself with the coofies reduces my thinking time. When I bake, I think about how I could spread God’s joy by baking well, packing well, and writing well. The anxiety is still there, but the Lord has provided me with another way to glorify Him, find my joy, and share said joy with people in need of joy.
Joy has been elusive lately, especially amid the pandemic.
But that doesn’t mean we will never find her. She’s right around the corner. When we find her, we should share her with as many people as we can — even if it’s a coofie or a simple “How are you?” via text.
Lord knows we need joy — and each other — during these trying times.
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Ashley is an awkward potato in love with words, Kpop, and corgis. She spends her free time dancing like one of those balloon things you see in malls.