Oh, hey look! I’m back! After two years. Finally.
When I told my sister Pil that I’m about to start a new hobby collecting postcards, she scoffed at me and told me that it’s such a ‘tita’ thing to do. Collecting postcards? That sounds boring. For all I know, she could be right, but really, who knew sending postcards could be this fun?
About three months ago, I had the sudden urge to look for foreign casual penpals. I found a website for those looking for penpals online and I actually made correspondence with some users. Eventually, I lost interest since it was still over the web and it didn’t feel genuine to me. It seemed as if we were just exchanging Facebook messages albeit over a matter of days.
It was then when I started using Postcrossing, a crowd-funded web project that encourages people from all over the world to send and receive postcards. I have been a Postcrossing member (actually, my account is for Edge and I, but I do most of the writing) for exactly 72 days as of posting, but I’m so far enjoying this new hobby.
What makes Postcrossing so fun for me? Here are my six reasons:
- It’s affordable. Postcrossing isn’t really new to me; I’ve seen friends in the past who have been swapping postcards via the website. At that time, I wasn’t really interested mainly because I was afraid that sending mail abroad might be expensive. When I learned from PhilPost that sending postcards — whether locally or internationally — only costs Php 15 per stamp — I perked up! Regular Philippine postcards sold in bookstores costs about Php 20 to 25. Papemelroti‘s cute postcards made from recycled paper only costs Php 5 per piece. Designer postcards could be more expensive, but really, the choice is up to you. All in all, the total price for sending one postcard could be anywhere from Php 20 to Php 45. Not bad if you ask me. (Note: Price of the stamp changes over time. Watch out for PhilPost press releases for updates.)
- It gives me a reason to be excited for the mail. I used to dread receiving mail since all I’ve been getting are bills and other junk. When I joined Postcrossing, that all changed. Now, I always have something good to look forward to in the mailbox.
- It took somebody’s effort for me to receive that postcard. Wrap your head around this. Imagine a stranger thousands of miles away from you. They actually took the time to sit down, think of something to write, jot down your name and your home address, which probably sounds weird and alien to them (“Caloocan City? That sounds kooky.”). After writing, they walked to the postbox or post office, bought stamps, glued those onto the postcard which they later dropped into a postbox. The same goes for me. There’s something special about writing down a strange address in another country. It’s even more exciting when the website alerts you that the recipient has received your postcard. They are now holding a piece of your small labor. Thousands of miles apart. Wow.
The postcards I have received so far.
- It allows me to listen to stories from people. I’m new to Postcrossing and, so far, I have only received seven postcards (some Postcrossers have been members for years and their profiles show that they have sent and received thousands of postcards… Someday I’ll be like that too!). But each of these postcards tells a story. The senders tell me who they are, what they enjoy doing, what they love about their country. They let me know what their travel plans are. They share stories about the tourist spots on their postcards. They tell me about their pets and families. It’s nice to know a piece of information about a stranger from the other side of the planet.
- It’s entertaining to match a person with a postcard. Whenever you get a new address to send a postcard to, Postcrossing shows you the profile of the recipient. That profile offers a glimpse of the recipient’s personality and interests, and it’s up to you to be creative in choosing a postcard that they would probably like. For example, one recipient in Germany said that he enjoys diving, so I sent him a photo of the corals in Balicasag Island, Bohol. I knew that it would be cold in Russia and Finland, so I sent postcards featuring the beautiful beaches of El Nido and Coron, Palawan. Another recipient from Greece said that she wants to see photos of lakes, mountains or volcanoes, so I sent her a postcard of Taal Volcano. And finally, a recipient from China proudly declared in his profile that he is a cat lover, so I sent him a postcard of a cat. It’s a match-making of sorts, and it’s fun to know that your recipients appreciate your choice in postcards once they send you a thank you note.
- It lets me travel… in a way. Can’t get to Russia? Here, my postcard can. I’ve been to Europe, especially in Germany, the Netherlands, and Ukraine thanks to my postcards. I’ve always wanted to return to Indonesia, but my postcard beat me to it. As a huge fan of crime shows, Locard’s exchange principle is on my mind all the time and I know that DNA from my skin cells has traveled to those countries through my postcard. There’s no long plane rides and immigration queues to think about too.
- It teaches me to be patient. Patience is not my strongest suit. I hate it when things are slow. When I first started in Postcrossing, I was impatiently sitting at home, waiting for my postcards to come but there were none! Three weeks later, when I had somehow forgotten that I was supposed to be waiting for a postcard, the first one finally arrived. It was a pleasant surprise. Thanks to that experience, I learned to be more patient and to let things run their natural course. No need to rush. They’ll get to me eventually.
- It gives me a chance to promote the Philippines. Being a traveler, I am a huge supporter of local tourism. Through my postcards, I invite the recipients to come visit the Philippines and experience our magnificent tourist attractions and warm Filipino hospitality. Don’t worry, DOT, I use our official tagline: It’s More Fun in the Philippines!
Sending and receiving postcards may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure is mine. It’s an experience that lets you be part of a huge global village through traditional means that may be slower, but takes somebody’s precious time and effort. Labor of love, as they say. If you are somehow encouraged by my post, please register an account on Postcrossing and start sending away!