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OFW launches business using upcycled bottles

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

Carolyn ‘Carlyn’ Aquino worked as a preschool teacher and part-time beauty consultant for five years in Doha, Qatar until the recession hit the Middle East. She lost her job and returned to the Philippines.

With only P10,000 in her pocket, she opened a networking business but lost money. When the pandemic struck in 2020, she worked as a trainee in a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company but was not regularized. But Carlyn was unfazed. She kept conducting Bible studies for neighborhood children using what little she earned.

Carlyn’s family also helped her cope. They bonded over a bottle of wine until they ended up with a lot of wine bottles at home. One day, inspiration struck. Carlyn gave the bottles a new look by turning them into attractive lamps and giving them to friends. Her friends were beyond grateful. They urged her to make a business out of the upcycled bottles.

OBRA Philippines was born. Its first original product is OBRA de Lampara, an upcycled liquor bottle transformed into a battery-operated artisan lamp. Most of the materials – buri holder, abaca strings, jute strigs, coco rings, and others – are recycled.

This way, OBRA helps provide a livelihood for indigenous people in Bicol province, Philippines.

OBRA also helps low-income households in Marikina City, Philippines by buying their used bottles and boxes and using them as materials for artistic lamps and crafts.

Happy customers have expressed their appreciation. Celebrity mom Christine Bersola-Babao created a video of her OBRA lamp and uploaded it together with three product shots, in her Facebook page. She described the products as “beautiful,” and asked followers to visit OBRA’s Facebook page.

OBRA was featured in The Filipino Channel and Jeepney TV’s Swak na Swak, and One PH and Radyo 5 92.3’s Magbadyet Tayo.

OBRA pays it forward by allotting part of its earnings to We Care Ministry’s weekly feeding and Bible sessions for indigent children in Nangka, Marikina, Philippines. Some of the children were abandoned by parents caught in drug buy-bust operations.

Recently, the company added a wedding collection product that can serve as an illumined centerpiece in reception tables, and a solar-powered lantern one can hang on the home’s main door.

Aside from Carlyn, OBRA’s CEO and chief designer, other officers are Dr. Regard Yakou, chief financial officer; Vien Villagarcia, communication officer and Anne Aquino, the seamstress.

For details and inquiries, check out OBRA’s Facebook page, call or text +63 998 313 2060, and email

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