Back in May 2000, a few days after my family immigrated to the States from the Philippines, I experienced something that I still remember to this — a thought that is the heart of this story. I was at a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Patchogue, New York and was eager to finally buy something that I normally get via a Balikbayan Box during Christmas from relatives in America. I saw a blue Adidas shirt on the men’s rack and as I reached towards the neckline to check the price tag, I saw the words:
“MADE IN THE PHILIPPINES.”
I chuckled, immediately showed it to my brother, and we both laughed. But then I started thinking, “Will I really be supporting the Philippines and the Filipino people if I purchase this product?”
Philippine-made products have come a long way since then. Today, there are a number of products available in the States that are made in the Philippines by Filipino-owned companies. These are not your typical trinkets made of Capiz shells, pearls, seashells, abaca, rattan, and bamboo that are sold during the Pistahan. What’s exciting and impressive is that these products are made with creativity and craftsmanship that truly represents the aspirations of a proud people who want to solve problems and also help make the lives of their countrymen better.
As part of Qamay, a Bay Area-based online marketplace that sells these Filipino products, I have witnessed firsthand how these brands operate with pride and purpose.
For example, there is Gouache, a waxed canvas and leather goods company that originated on the Spark Project (the Philippine version of Kickstarter).
The founders wanted to manufacture a reasonably priced camera bag using the skills of local bag makers. Now, this company manufactures aprons and bags that are now on Amazon and have been carried by online retailers such as Touch of Modern and Fancy.com.
There is also Lagu, which is the world’s first beach-friendly blanket.
This allergen-free product was created to reduce the sand depletion on the shores of Boracay. As tourists lay their blankets on the sand, they inadvertently take sand with them. The founders of the company created a sand-repellant material to combat this, which is now being sold at a number of popular beach resorts in the Philippines, as well as on Amazon and other online retailers.
And then there is Habi footwear, a company founded by Filipino social entrepreneurs.
They manufacture shoes made of upcycled materials and provide livelihood opportunities to mothers in poverty-stricken communities.
There are a number of companies like these that operate with a purpose and manufacture high-quality products that are proudly Philippine-made. As we approach the holiday shopping season and with, check these unique items out.
You’ll get the chance to give unique gifts while supporting Philippine-based businesses.
Qamay is based in San Francisco, California that sells handmade, eco-friendly products made from sustainable and/or recycled and upcycled materials.