Surviving NCR+: Lockdown trends that are here to stay

A lot was taken away since the pandemic lockdown was first declared a year ago here in the Philippines.

We were placed under community quarantine which restricted us to go out, businesses were closed which also led to some people being stripped off their jobs, public transportations were halted, face-to-face communication with loved ones were mostly cut and even our normal day to day living was put to a stop.

But even through all these challenges and restrictions, some businesses thrived and were even born during the pandemic and people also found ways to stay sane and productive.

Let’s do a rundown of these products, lifestyle trends and habits that help businesses grow and help people cope up with this lockdown.


Our social media feeds turned greener when friends turned to plants to cope up with the pandemic. Some of my friends found it as a good distraction from what’s happening around them as it helped them to focus their extra energy on growing plants that served as their companion during the lockdown.

With the rise of budding plantitos and plantitas, Filipinos ventured into the plant-selling business to meet demands and generate income. Luckily, people were able to conveniently shop plants online from Facebook and Instagram stores such as Plant Beast PH. Aside from earning, owners of these stores are also motivated by their passion and love for plants and are happy that people are now into taking care of plants.


Sushi Bake

The lockdown definitely inspired us to learn how to cook and bake. One of the food trends that was hyped up during this pandemic was the sushi bake – a deconstructed sushi roll that’s baked like a casserole. It is usually made with layers of seasoned rice, creamy Japanese mayo and your choice of toppings from salmon, tuna, fish roe, scallops and the list just go on.

I am definitely guilty of the pleasure of trying this out during the lockdown – ordering from different online stores to try a bit of everything. Eventually, I found the best ones from Shortcut Sushi and Hungry Daruma which were reasonably priced and are never short of ingredients and proportions. Scooping and munching during stress-free work-from-home week or when you get the chance to celebrate a birthday of a loved one just makes the difficult days more bearable.



With social life on hold and just hearing news on the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases week after week, it can definitely take toll on our minds. We then turned to products to have a sense of normalcy and have some semblance of calm during trying times.

I took comfort in candles such as the ones I got from Likha Manilenia. Their scents are reminiscent of the fun times of our normal lives and the outside world, like the first one I bought while was 2020, blending the smell of the ocean and lemongrass which reminded me of days when I can still frequent the beach and bask in the sun. Meanwhile, every time I light up the Filipinas variant, it brings me back to Sundays that I just get to spend quality time with my family at home.


Ube Cheese Pandesal

People have become creative not just on surviving but also thriving during this pandemic. As some people lost their jobs and their income vanishing by the minute, they turned to making different food choices that can be easily ordered. Since most establishments were closed, “quaran-preneurs” provided more options for people who need more food to feel satisfied and relieved from their anxieties.

One that had been quite popular was the ube cheese pandesal. Those chewy purple-colored bread buns with ube halaya and cheese fillings that I got from Edma Bakes made me understand why this pastry has grown from Internet sensation to merienda staple. Its perfect mix of sweet and salty was a delight to have and which made it a huge hit on online bakeries.

Indoor Workout

To balance our excessive eating and craving for good food during this pandemic, we have to stay active and healthy. We had to find other ways since we are forced to stay at home, and we can’t do our morning jog and frequent our gyms.

Luckily, there are those Youtube videos that help us do indoor workouts such as HIIT, Circuit and Home Yoga. You can ever do your own workout routine using resistance bands, jump rope and other home exercise equipment you can easily order and have them delivered to your home from online stores such as Manila Athletica. You can even monitor your workout through your Smart Watch that helps you stay in tiptop shape during this lockdown.  

Barter Groups

The pandemic also gave birth to online barter groups. These groups like the BF Barter Club were mostly created out of necessity for cashless exchange of goods and items since many stores were closed during the first months of the pandemic, businesses were struggling, and many lost their jobs and were not earning.

People would post the item they’d want to barter and its estimated value and the item they’re willing to trade it for. It was also a way to help people let go of the things they don’t need but can still be of value to others. It also has become an avenue to help frontliners and those affected by this pandemic.

Minimalist Cakes

Minimalist cakes which hail from Korea was already a thing years ago but became a trend during the pandemic. Compared to our traditional cakes, these are more toned-down, with usually just a color or two, one layer of frosting and a simple message as a final touch.

As most of us had our birthdays in quarantine last year, minimalist cakes like these ones from Edma Bakes became a way for people to have a simple celebration at home or to send a simple message to a loved one that despite difficulties brought about by this pandemic, you deserve to be happy on your special day.

Home and Condo Renovations

As constructions were halted due to lockdowns and most of us can’t compromise our health and safety by hiring carpenters, we were able to unlock our potential to be creative and resourceful to work on DIY projects at our respective homes.

Through social media posts and groups that were created such as Home Buddies, we were able to share home finds, tips, creations and questions to transform and improve our houses and condos which became our sanctuary and safe space during this pandemic.

Zoom Catchups

Amid social distancing and lack of face-to-face interaction, people have learned to communicate through technology. Gone were the days that Zoom, the leading video communications application, were just used for work meetings. It now paves a way for families, relatives and lovers get to conveniently connect.

 The pandemic has even prompted people to grow closer in some ways as old friends and batchmates reconnect. Via Zoom, people were able to attend online events such as baptisms and weddings since people don’t have to worry about expenses, dressing up and going through the hassling of travelling back and forth to be present.

KPop and KDrama Craze

Korean Pop and Korean Dramas has long been part of the Philippine entertainment but the intense fandom transpired during the lockdow. With this trend, Filipinos found a different comfort and distraction with the craze.

Since we’re all at home, people entertained and kept themselves busy by streaming numerous KDrama series on Netflix recommended by friends and family. We’d all go gaga over concerts streamed online of famous KPop groups such as BTS and EXO since these groups can’t go on tours to hold concerts.

Fans of certain KDrama series, actors and KPop groups even went as far as buying merchandise of their favorites which gives them a different sense of fulfillment and happiness. We’re just really lucky to have online stores such as Unnie Verse that sells such merchandise that let us be the hardcore fans that we are.

Photo from Shayne Gualin
Photo from Celest Flores

Photo from Dawnavie Dadis
Reply 1988 Merch from Unnie Verse
Reply 1988 Merch from Unnie Verse

Commissioned Art

As the world has gone through drastic changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, artists use their time in isolation to work on their craft as a way to cope up. Some rendered artworks that showed what loneliness and grief felt like, while some depicted longed-for social scenes from the pre-pandemic life.

Artists like Sam Sauler even created a dedicated Instagram account, Sam Sauler Studio, to accept artwork requests from people who want their photos with the people (and pets!) they love and their pre-pandemic life turned into paintings or vector art to remind of the happiness, love and warmth that they felt in each moment.

As we enter Year Two of this lockdown with its end still not in sight, more challenges may arise that try to pull us down but with these trends, the love and support that we have and share with the people around us and our resilience as Filipinos, I know we’ll defeat this pandemic and still rise up triumphant.

About the Author

Subselfie - Apple

Apple Gamboa is the Life Editor of

She is also the Creative Team Lead of PayMaya, the leading digital financial services provider in the country. 

She was previously a Media Relations Manager for Ogilvy Philippines and an interview and field producer for GMA News programs Quick Response Team and News to Go. She was also a producer of lifestyle TV shows and documentaries. Travelling and music are her passion, and taking risks is her reality medicine. Journalism 2010, UST. Read more of her articles here.

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