Christmas season starts in the Philippines as soon as September rolls in and for Filipinos away from home, this may also be the best time to make your gift list.
Living abroad, Filipino expats have the rare opportunity of becoming ambassadors of Filipino-made brands. However, we understand that it might not be so easy to bring in Pinoy products to Europe. So we list down 10 brands that are purely Pinoy-made or owned by Filipino entrepreneurs who are based in Europe. No need to worry about import taxes and exorbitant shipping fees.
These colorful and sometimes cheeky limited edition kimonos and Filipiniana tops feature the artwork of Switzerland-based Filipina artist Pamela Gotangco. Each piece is handwoven by a group of seamstresses in the Philippines using a unique weaving pattern called Binakol. To order, contact them directly through their Facebook and Instagram pages or email email@example.com.
Sagana is also a Swiss-Filipino brand, importing healthy, sustainable and ethical baking and sweetening products from the Philippines. Coconut sugar, coconut blossom coconut butter and nectar syrup are some of the gifts you can give to your friends who love to bake. They also sell Pili nuts in different flavours, as well as Heirloom Wholegrain rice from Northern Luzon. If you find it hard to choose, we suggest the SAGANÀ Jewel of the Tropics set (€18,40 + shipping). Visit their website www.sagan.org.
GustoKo by Paula bags and clutches
GustoKo is a collection of beautiful, stylish embroidered bags designed by Filipina expat Paula Figueras, who is based in Portugal. GustoKo are designed in Portugal and hand-made by housewives in the Philippines using locally-sourced materials like T´nalak (from abaca fabric) Ticog, Buntal, Philippine pearls, snakeskin, Kamagong (wood, Rattan, and other natural materials. Their iconic bags start at €180. More info at www.shop-gustoko.com.
Wataru France espadrilles
Minimalist, colorful and sustainable. Wataru France espadrilles are made in Liliw, Laguna, the tsinelas capital of the Philippines, using indigneous materials like banig. While it may already be too cold for espadrilles, we recommend the Marga mustard yellow and Banig mules for those who want to keep warm feet during the cold months. Of course you can also give them away to friends and loved ones to use as stylish “pambahay” (house slippers). Wataru France is imported by Filipina expat Angelique Villaraza and sold in boutiques in Europe, particularly France, Spain, Italy and Grace. Price starts at €75. Order your pairs at https://wataru.bigcartel.com/products.
De Moi beauty products
De Moi is a cruelty-free and ecologically friendly beauty brand created by Cebu-born and Switzerland-based Filipina expat Demee Koch. De Moi beauty products use Philippine botanicals like papaya, guava and aloe vera sourced locally by single mothers in the Philippines. De Moi line includes eyelash serums, beauty bars and face serums, perfect gifts for your beauty conscious friends. Price starts at €34.50. Visit www.demoi.ch/shop to order.
Virginutty hair and skin care
Another cruelty-free and socially-conscious beauty brand, Virginutty is created by young entrepreneur British-Filipina Melissa Alcantara who is based in London, UK. Using the moisturizing and healing properties of coconut oil, Melissa wanted to produce products that are free of carcinogenic ingredients and whitening chemicals. The beauty range includes skin drink moisturizers, make-up melt cleansers, hair balm and hair masks. Supporting local coconut farmers in the Philippines while empowering minorities in Europe, Virginutty models highlight the beauty of brown skin and curly hair, giving us products that suit our needs. They also sell candles with nostalgic Pinoy names. Prices start at €14. Shop at www.virginutty.co.uk/shop.
Ten Foundation school and lunch bags
New Year, new sustainable school bags for the kids! Ian Campbell started his foundation in 2012, and from his home in Belfast, he has helped alleviate poverty in a village in Batangas by providing jobs to its residents as bag makers, and education to its children. Not only are Ten Foundations bags a symbol of hope, they are also environment friendly, made from recycled materials like juice cartons, fabric offcuts, or advertising banners. Prices start at €17.5. Buy online via www.tenfoundations.org or visit their stores The Boulevard, Banbridge and Castle Court, Belfast.
Don Papa Rum
Produced by the Bleeding Heart Rum Company, which is based in Negros, Philippines, Don Papa offers different variety of rum distilled from molasses, aged for 7 years in American oak barrels, and charcoal filtered. Your rum-drinking friends will surely appreciate a bottle. Available in different liquor stores in Europe.
Travel blogger Noime Espinosa, the lady behind the successful blog Pinay Flying High has turned her travel memories into printed keepsakes. LitratoLdn prints travel postcards and personalized artworks to hang on your walls, display on your work table or send to your friends. You can also send her your pictures for a more customised gift. Buy the prints at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LitratoLdn. Send her a message via Instagran @litrato.ldn or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Yes we are including ourselves in the list! Give your Filipino and non-Filipino friends a subscription to The Filipino Expat Magazine. We only charge a postage fee of €9/issue or if your organization or events needs a gift to give away for free, email us at email@example.com and we will send you a bunch.
Are you a Filipino brand based in Europe? Let us know so that we can add you to our list.
What's Your Reaction?
Dheza Aguilar is the Managing Editor of The Filipino Expat Magazine. She was a former Netherlands correspondent for ABS-CBN, and freelance writer for other publications. She works for a supply company in Rotterdam and is eternally juggling passion and career. She also blogs at www.girlfromthebarrio.com.