The One Who Gets It

When ABS-CBN asked me to write a book, I had a hundred different feelings at once. I called my best friend Cindy to help me try to make sense of what I was actually feeling. I told her I wasn’t confident about writing a book at all, but she assured me that if they don’t sell, we will give them away at every possible occasion until we finish giving away all the copies.

Don’t we all need a best friend who will support us like that?

As I am writing this, the first print run is almost sold out. (Thank you God and thanks to all of you who already bought your copy!)

My husband played a major role in helping me sort out my thoughts and feelings. He encouraged me to not think about the technicalities in writing the book. Since it is the first time I am doing it, I really had no idea how to begin. Just write from the heart, he said.

Writing from the heart has always been a therapeutic process, as I get to see my ideas and emotions sorted out on screen or on paper. But it could be really challenging too. I needed to condense a lot of stories within a set number of pages. I am thankful to ABS-CBN Books for allowing me to write at my own pace until I got it right.  

I am deeply humbled with all the feedback I receive ever since the first copy of the book went out of our doorstep.

Yesterday, I received my first full-blown book review. I was scared to open the document at first. My mind is set to accept the negative feedback, because I know that it’s a great way to help me improve.

I’ve always wanted to reach out to more people, to share my advocacy of organizing and homemaking not only to married couples and to parents, but to homemakers of all ages. God answered this prayer through giving me this beautiful opportunity to write a book.

God’s timing is always perfect. Through this book review, I understood all the more that He gives every opportunity at the right time – when you, and the people around you, are most ready for it.

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One Wednesday evening, after a hard day’s work, something precious was delivered by a kind Angkas driver. I was very happy to finally hold a copy of Ms. Issa Reyes’ Neat Obsessions book. I first heard of Neat Obsessions and Ms. Issa from my best friend. From her happy stories, I wanted to find out how the magic works. So, I followed Neat Obsessions on Instagram and to my surprise, found heaven on earth.

The Neat Obsessions book by Ms. Issa Guico Reyes has been a pleasure to read, and I think it has been released at just the right time. Seemingly, we are living in a time where reality is stranger than fiction. The global pandemic has caused great disorder in all our lives. Many of us have lost touch with the people we have in our lives, both literally and figuratively. This book helps us to restore the homes we have in our own terms guided with concepts and values of practical organization. Through the unassuming personal accounts of the author, we get a glimpse of the humble beginnings of the woman behind Neat Obsessions and what has driven her to build a movement that is tailored for the Filipino homes.

The different principles embedded in the book enlighten the readers to embrace homemaking – a concept that must be revived whichever phase of life you are in. From the manner of narration to the actual technique, the readers are led in a homeward direction.

Allow me to indulge you with the meaningful elements a reader will greatly appreciate from the Neat Obsessions book:

  1. Valuing the families we are born into and the families we make

As a reader, I felt how much love there is in this book. The author opens her life to other people and shares a big part of who she is. She is selfless and very much grateful for the people around her who have taught and given her different ideas that not only left an impact in the business that she is running, but in the life that she is leading.

2. Significant memories that last a lifetime

Many would consider that the best gifts they received are the luxurious material things they inherit. Contrary to this, the author shared with simplicity and honesty how her parents had given her memories that led to her realizations of the most significant qualities a person should know to cope with the messy world. The genesis of what has become her is the unconscious reception of the values of neatness and order instilled within the family under her father’s strict eye; incorporated with the wonderful nurturing memories she has learned from her mother, the author has weaved her stories of how she has developed the passion for homemaking.

3. Respect for everything and everyone

The very act of organizing itself, which the author advocates for, is a form of respect to oneself – by way of honoring and taking care of the things one possesses whichever space is occupied. Her localized system of professional organizing made friendly and more contextualized to the Philippines pay respect to the different culture and perception of Filipino homemakers. There is recognition and regard to the different walks of life as she asserts that there are no requirements in qualifying to be a homemaker, and that cleanliness is a universal language. Another form of this demonstrated love is her account of their young daughter’s precious toys where there is a resonating importance of respecting space. This is ultimately reflected with the relationships she has built with her clients. This book is homage for all the valuable lessons she gained from others.

4. Advocacy to genuinely help others

The author shares her realization and impressively enumerates the numerous ways one can apply the Homeward Technique especially by those who are most hesitant. She poses all these in the form of a challenge, rather than an outright excuse, which helps the reader understand that this state of mind is a matter of choice and willingness. She acknowledges each one and educates her readers that it is never impossible to try and live more efficiently. Simple and practical solutions are offered to help and guide those who are in the similar boat. This interesting part of the book is an acknowledgment of the different shapes of the homes we have in real life. As a reader, I felt a sense of encouragement as the author paints pictures of the inclusivity of homemaking.  She walked us through different types of homes with personal concerns such as oversentimentality over possessions,lack of space, lack of time, lack of help, claims of innateness of being burara, and hoarding. These issues were processed well to give readers a different perspective over the things they have control of. The book does not impose, but rather, unburdens by giving options carefully suggested out of care and concern for the welfare of others’ homes.

5. Living with a clear direction

Eventually, the readers are redirected back to the home – the center of it all, where the heart is. The narration of the stories woven together is faithful to the technique embodied by Neat Obsessions where everything is, where everything starts, where everyone returns to – homeward. This book is a reminder of a journey everyone may venture without leaving to go to other places. This book helps you to find your happiness right exactly where you are and helps you accept what you already have. 

After having read the book, I lied down, closed my eyes and thought of everything I am grateful for. I have personally recounted my own memories of where my heart is. I started to have plans on my head about how I can do this and do that. I grabbed a pen the day after and started writing. I started to remember what I have, what I need and what I must accept.

During this time, many feel trapped or limited because of the call of the pressing health crisis. I have realized that everything is a matter of mind setting, and we must change our views about our current state.  We must even more protect our homes to become safer for our families. We are all responsible for the homes that we have. It is a good time, no matter what type of home we live in, to recognize and to be grateful that we have a home to start with.

It is admirable to see many people try to beautify, to organize and to reorder their stuff at home. However, we should be reminded that cleaning, organizing, and homemaking are not a matter of temporary purification, elimination and acquisition, but a continuous process of enrichment and acceptance of what we already have.

Thank you, Ms. Issa Reyes, for sharing your home.

I hope we find genuine happiness in our homes, too. 😊

Bianca Camille L. Guese, Subject Area Coordinator, English Department, Elizabeth Seton School Las Piñas | MaEd Literature, Philippine Normal University

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Bianca, what you gave me is a gift. You brought me back to WHY I have this book: what the purpose is behind the sleepless nights and why it took me a year to produce it. You became the voice of homemakers, and I will always be grateful for you and the Neat community – THE ONE WHO GETS IT.

Thank you Bianca for knowing what’s in my heart. You and the Neat Obsessions’ community are the reasons why I am grateful today.

God bless you! ♥️