A Pinoy taste for the Holidays
Cheeko B. Ruiz (The Philippine Star) - December 14, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The holiday feeling is certainly in the air as the season of giving and good cheer has arrived once again. As the search for the perfect gift is on, an advocacy group is urging Filipinos to show love not just to their kin but to their country as well, especially at this time of the year.

Jacqueline Ong of Local Love Philippines believes Filipinos should do their part in building stronger communities nationwide by supporting local produce.

“For example, why buy Danish cookies when there are uraro cookies from Marinduque that taste just as good?”  Ong says.

Local Love Philippines has partnered with 30 producers in 25 localities in various regions all over the country for assorted products to put in their Christmas baskets.

Among these products are hand-crafted baskets from Bicol, handwoven table runners from the Ilocos region, organic rice from Kalinga, rice from Laguna, mixed origin cacao from Davao and Cotabato and some unique specialties from Pangasinan to Cebu.

You can load your gifts baskets with choices from a wide range of products, depending on your preferences and budget. Or you can opt for their various set baskets. 

There is the Christmas Pinoy Basket which contains chili oil from Malabon, pickles from Bulacan, honey-turmeric vinegar from Batangas, squash ketchup from Rizal, cacao from Cotabato, muscovado sugar from Antique, Kintoman red rice from Benguet, bangus in oil from Butuan City and sandok made of coconut hull and anahaw wood in Sorsogon.

They also have the Fruit Fiesta Basket with mango wine from Laguna, arrowroot cookies from Marinduque, dried mangoes from Nueva Ecija, banana chips from Batangas, passion fruit jelly and pineapple-papaya-calamansi jam from Cotabato, mango marmalade from Pangasinan, pickled ampalaya from Bulacan, ginger tea from Palawan and sunflower honey from Baguio.

Meanwhile, the Chocolate Lovers Basket has a handwoven table runner from Vigan, chocolate cup set with stirrer and saucer made of coconut hull and anahaw wood from Sorsogon, chocolate coconut jam from Isabela, dark chocolate with organic coconut sugar from Davao, cacao drops from Cebu, spicy chocolate bar from Cotabato and artisan chocolate bar from Rizal.

For the Coffee Lovers Basket, one can find soybean coffee from Nueva Vizcaya, local coffee from Rizal and coffee brew from Kalinga.

The prices of the baskets range from P300 to P2,000.

“Most of the products are not yet mainstream, except for the dilis that can be found in malls. Our thrust is to uplift smaller producers,” Ong says.

The idea for this venture came about after she realized that there are a lot of good local products unknown to the general public.

“Going around, I saw that we also have fruit wines that are made from not-so-popular fruits locally grown. I thought, why don’t we share this with the people?” she says. “It’s not just a set of products. Every product has a story. I talk to producers and ask them about their lives.”

Part of the proceeds from their business will go to a chosen community for the improvement of the residents’ livelihood.

So far, many have expressed interest in their offerings, but Ong knows it may take a while for people to accept that local products can make the ideal gifts.

“Oftentimes, people want to give something imported. Perhaps, it’s about time to change this mindset and inculcate among people to buy something Filipino,” she says.

She adds that their business takes on a deeper meaning aside from the monetary part.

“We feel that we are selling a product inasmuch as we are selling an advocacy. We target the young people because they are more open to this kind of thinking,” she says.

Since they are still starting, they have no store and are only selling online. A partnership with three restaurants is in the works though.

“We can direct buyers to the nearest pick-up point or we could also deliver if they have bulk orders,” Ong says.

She reminds her fellow Filipinos not to look too far for what is special.

“Why don’t we look at what’s around us? Let us appreciate the beauty of the Philippines and the ingenuity of the Filipino people. Why not value the work of their hands?” she says.

In the future, they intend to put up a store similar to a one-stop-shop where local culture can be promoted.

Ong is hoping that starting this Christmas, bridges will finally be built and pathways will be made toward a community of local-loving people.

To view their products and place orders, visit www.lovelocalphilippines.blogspot.com, or email lovelocalphilippines@yahoo.com or call 0942-8637058.

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