8 Christmas Gifts Locally Made With Love By People and Small Businesses

“Buy from local businesses and self-employed people. When you buy from a small local business you are not paying for a third vacation home for some CEO, but for a little girl’s dance lessons, for food on the table for a family, and for sending a student to college.”

This and similar ideas have happily been shared away in social media, especially during Christmas time.  And to these I would add: Let’s buy products made with love.

Over the years, I’ve known some beautiful people who have poured their talents and hearts in making awesome products. And I thought, why not write about these as gift ideas? After all, I have personally experienced and can attest to the awesomeness of these people’s creations.

And so, below are some products I would recommend for your Christmas shopping list. From arts and crafts and accessories to wellness products and yummy, healthy baked goodies, you might find at least one item for the people on your list.

1. Beautiful and unique accessories handmade from recycled materials by Junkshop Abubot 

cuffsCuffs made from beads and junk. Price from P300 to P500. All accessory photos courtesy of Ros Flores

Old buttons. Can tabs. Discarded plastic. Cable wires. Magazines. These are just among the “junk” Ros Flores of Junkshop Abubot uses to make her intricate creations of necklaces, bracelets, cuffs, and other accessories. The accessories look so beautiful they don’t look like they come from junk. And, I use the word “unique” because Ros does not make copies; each design is the only version of it.

Items on the Junkshop Abubot Facebook page tend to get reserved quickly, so check the page regularly if you are on the lookout for such accessories. Sometimes Ros even makes other products like coasters.

can tab bracelets, P300, Junkshop Abubot

Can tab bracelets. Price: P300

cable necklace, Junkshop AbubotJunk necklace made from cables, beads, magazine cutouts (P1500)

29Shell, cable, and bead necklace

2. Intricate papercut art in photo frames, bookmarks, and taka (papier mâché horses) by Sinag de Leon

Artist Sinag de Leon takes paper folding and cutting to another level by creating beautiful and intricate designs, many of which have been displayed and sold in art exhibits.

Papercut art. Salimbay 9 by Sinag de LeonOne of Sinag’s exhibited artworks. Photo courtesy of Sinag de Leon

Aside from framed papercut art, Sinag also creates papercut art crafts for sale, like photo frames, mirrors, bookmarks, and even papier mâché horses. Each piece is unique, with no copies.

Sinag ArtBookmarks_Photo by mBrella Multimedia GroupSinag Art Bookmarks, one-of-a-kind laminated papercuts using local handmade paper. P75 for small, P100 for large. Photo courtesy of Umbrella Multimedia Group 

Sinag ArtFrame_with photo frame on one side

Sinag Art Frame (photo frame). P600 for 5″ x 5″, P700 for 6″ x 6″. Photo courtesy of Sinag de Leon

Sinag ArtFrame_with mirror_photo by Kelly RamosSinag Art Frame with mirror. P650 for 5″ x 5″, P750 for 6″ x 6″. Photo by Kelly Ramos

Sinag with Taka horse_photo by Reyme FaurilloSinag de Leon with her taka (papier mâché horse) creation. Price of custom-made taka ranges from P5,000 to P8,000.

Visit Sinag’s Facebook page or e-mail sinag.shines@gmail.com for inquiries and product orders. You can also check out her papercut art crafts at the Dreams on Canvas Art Fair on December 12 and 13, 4pm to 11pm at The Rooftop, 27 Mayaman St., UP Village, Quezon City.

Sinag also facilitates paper cutting workshops, one of which I was able to attend. She teaches intuitive paper cutting and a few techniques, including the making of pastillas wrappers, considered to be a dying art form.

3. Comfy footwear made from Cordillera indigenous textiles by Lakhambini

Lakhambini shoes and sandals are eye-catching, with patterns woven by Cordillera region’s indigenous people. Mai Flores, the person behind Lakhambini, chose indigenous textiles for her products also to support Cordillera weavers’ livelihoods and help promote their culture.

Lakhambini sandals made with indigenous Cordillera textiles

Lydia sandals, P1375. Each design is named after one of the Cordillera weavers. Photo courtesy of Mai Flores

cordillera ii collection, sandals indigenous textilesLakhambini’s second Cordillera collection. Prices start at P1,300.

The soles, made by Marikina shoemakers, are very comfortable, too. In fact, they are so comfortable that I used them most of the time I was recovering from a badly broken leg. I continue to use them now that I’m learning to walk again. Other traveler friends also attest to Lakhambini’s comfort.

Lakhambini sandal use after injuryTaking my first few steps again after my leg injury with my Sylvia sandals (P1,300).

Visit Lakhambini’s Facebook page to check out their products and to order. You may also follow their Instagram: @lakhambini.

You can also know more about the story behind Lakhambini by reading my more detailed write-up.

4. Indigenous dream embroidery by Lyn

Some indigenous peoples like the T’boli are known for their dreamweaving, where weavers dream first about the designs they will be making. Meanwhile, Lyn and her people, whom I met in a gathering of indigenous peoples in Mindanao, dream about patterns that they will be embroidering. Lyn’s designs are mostly inspired by nature.

indigenous dream embroidery Mindanao (3)Lyn’s designs are inspired by nature. This one portrays clean water and people. Photo courtesy of Mini Gavino

indigenous dream embroidery Mindanao (1)This one also portrays nature, with four symbols. Photo courtesy of Mini Gavino

She usually embroiders her designs on shirts. She can also custom-make designs – meaning, she can dream of and embroider a design with a particular person in mind.

indigenous dream embroidery Mindanao (3)Lyn usually embroiders her designs on shirts like this. Prices start at P850. Photo courtesy of Mini Gavino

Buy Lyn’s designs to support her livelihood and celebrate her people’s culture. Prices of shirts with embroidery start at P850.  If you’re ordering for Christmas, order asap as design can take a few weeks. For inquiries and orders, contact Mini “Baybay” Gavino of GINHAWA, Inc. at +63905.455.8765 and babaylan8@gmail.com.

5. Baybayin shirts by Mini “Baybay” Gavino

Baybayin is the ancient, pre-colonial Filipino writing system often mistakenly known as “alibata.” Artist and facilitator Mini “Baybay” Gavino has hand-painted the Baybayin syllabary and had them printed in shirts. These simple and beautiful shirts are also what we usually wear when we teach Baybayin. They are available in white and other colors. Prices start at P300 and vary depending on size and design.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABaybayin shirts have two basic designs – first, the calligraphy of the entire syllabary (left), and second, the characters for “Bathala Nawa” (right), which loosely translates to “letting go.” Baybayin shirt prices start at P300.

For inquiries and orders, contact Mini “Baybay” Gavino of GINHAWA, Inc. at +63905.455.8765 and babaylan8@gmail.com.

Mini Gavino baybayin by Janette Alejandro

Artist and facilitator Mini “Baybay” Gavino. Photo by Janette Alejandro

6. “Good vibes,” wellness products by Biyaya ni Bathala

John Pinlac has studied and practiced different modes of healing through several years; I have personally been rejuvenated by some of his sessions, particularly those using essential oils. He concocts and bottles natural ingredients infused with healing knowledge and energies in wellness products like aromatherapy sprays and roll-ons. Popular among them is the”Bad Vibes Away,” which, as its name implies, cleanses a space’s energies.

Ish - Bad Vibes Away“Bad Vibes Away” is made with essential oils and flower essences, and  keeps the bad vibes away. It can be sprayed in your home, and even your body. Price: 430
Ish productsRoll-ons also made with a mix of essential oils and infused with intention. Divine Protection at P430, and Abundance at P390. Photo by John Pinlac

See more of John’s products at Biyaya ni Bathala Earthshop Facebook page. You may also e-mail biyayanibathala@gmail.com for inquiries and orders.

7. Cakes and pastries so good you won’t think they’re actually healthy by OHM Cafe  

Jay Batoon lost his mom to diabetes, and was also surprised to find his own blood sugar at borderline levels last year. Spurred to action, he began a low-carbohydrate diet with no processed sugar. He took to preparing his own food and even baking his own bread and pastries with no processed sugar. Now, he is at his ideal weight and blood sugar levels.

The bread, cakes, and pastries he made, though, look and taste so delicious that friends began to order from him. His baked goodies are refined sugar-free and gluten-free (does not use wheat flour). His products are dairy-free except for the blueberry goodies. Jay’s creations are also perfect guiltless goodies for those watching their weight, especially this Christmas season where there may be too many dinners, get-togethers, and food.

Jay carrot muffinsAll pastry photos courtesy of Jay Batoon

Jay nut and fruit bread

For his blueberry goodies, he does not use canned blueberries but frozen blueberries for a fresher taste.

Jay blueberry sour cream bars

jay blueberry cheesecake no bake

Jay blueberry cheesecake new york style

Check out OHM Cafe Facebook page to see more of Jay’s goodies. You can also send your inquiries and orders there or text +63916-659-4155. Order at least 2 days ahead. You can pick up at 18A New Orleans st, Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Cubao, Quezon City or meet up at Farmers Cubao or Gateway with P60 add-on for fare.

7. Natural turmeric supplements prepared from farm to capsule

Around ten years ago, Remi Santiago-Bautista was suffering from acute arthritis and high blood pressure, which culminated to a mild stroke a few years later. Earlier, she had lost her husband to diabetes.

When the medications proved to be ineffective for Remi and she continued experiencing pain, she looked to other cures. Through research and intuition she found turmeric to be effective. She slowly got better, and people around her noticed her body’s dramatic improvement, and also asked for turmeric. Even at over 60, she continues to have energy for travel and volunteer activities (We actually go together in some trips!). Now, she makes turmeric capsules not only for herself but also for family and friends, and I am one of her regular customers. Also a farmer, she plants, harvests, dries, turns turmeric into powder and places them in capsules, all with healing intentions. (You can read more about Remi’s story here.)

Turmeric capsules_20130318_03Turmeric capsules made with love and healing energies, from plant to capsule. A capsule typically sells for P5.

Remi_20130318_01                    A healthy, vibrant, and traveling Remi

For orders, you may contact Karen at +63906-475-8346 or Donna at +63932-9160597. They can do meet-ups in Quezon City – you may just  have to add payment for their transportation fare. Deliveries would still have to be worked out (I will post an update on this in case). For people who live south of Metro Manila, you may also message me at my Traveling Light Facebook page. Initially, I had posted Remi Santiago-Bautista ‘s number here, but she mentioned she couldn’t keep up with all the inquiries (a good problem to have, though!) as she focuses her energies on making turmeric.

If you buy any of the products listed above, you not only support individuals and local businesses, but also work fueled by love and creativity.

This is a list in progress and may be updated, especially if more talented and passionate people I know and will know have creations I can include here.

Happy shopping!

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