There is this really weird myth in the Philippines that things that are imported goods (particularly brands that are popular in Western countries) are always high quality and classy. That’s how people end up paying about a hundred pesos on plastic jewelry that was probably made from molds in a machine, with numerous copies being produced and sold worldwide. And then arguably more beautiful, one-of-a-kind, handmade abaca bracelets crafted by indigenous peoples end up selling for, what, ten pesos apiece. It’s a bit crazy, if you ask me.
I too use and patronize products from out of the country. But at this point, I only buy them when:
- I can’t get anything like it that is made locally. (This usually applies to art materials such as artist-grade watercolors. And videogames.)
- It’s one-of-a-kind or artisan. (This usually applies to books. Also, I’m planning to get a beautiful leather journal from India. There are local journal manufacturers, but hardly any make exceptionally sturdy covers and share my love for deckle-edged cotton paper.)
- I don’t have time to make it myself. (This usually applies to tomato pesto. Which you can turn into an awesome, quick meal by slathering it on brown rice.)
- Someone gives it to me. (Although, admittedly, I’ve been given quite a few things that are now gathering dust somewhere at the bottom of my drawer because I find they aren’t quite as good as local stuff.)
Buying local (or artisan) is one way of supporting people who are actually passionate about what they do. I’d rather put my money in local farmers, artists and small companies rather than big manufacturers that mass produce and pretty much suck the souls out of their products.
When I drew the above page for my art journal, I was sitting in homegrown coffee shop, Coffeeworks. Although I’m hardly a coffee snob, I find that their coffee is just as good as the much more expensive Starbucks. (Another wonderful local coffee place is Bo’s Coffee, who source their beans from whatever place is near the branch.)
Another homegrown brand that I just can’t get enough of is Human❤Nature. Everything in my bathroom and my personal care kit is Human❤Nature, except for my toothpaste. (For the simple reason that they don’t make toothpaste. Yet.) Everything they make is really at par or better with every other brand at the grocery store. They also have the added value of smelling pretty damn good without dizzyingly artificial fragrances. The beautiful packaging also helps.
In the future, I hope to talk more about all the wonderful stuff from all over the country: black rice from South Cotabato, dark chocolates from Davao, abaca crafts, handwoven cloth, all sorts of delicious food… Because while the media is chock-full of advertisements for “luxurious” goods from across the world, we often forget that sometimes the best of the best actually come from home.