Paskwa 2021: How Ilonggo Businesses are Changing Gift-Giving

Cris Antonio |

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year once more!

And you know what that means: preparing for noche buena, catching up with friends, holiday office parties, and of course – shopping for gifts. There’s family, friends, and godchildren. Let’s not forget co-workers, neighbors (if you’re feeling generous), and partner communities (for those doing volunteer work).

Gift-giving can be enjoyable, or a pain in the neck. It depends on how you look at it. For these Ilonggo entrepreneurs however, the act is not only gratifying, it also gives them the chance to express their creativity as well as help others.

Get to know the home-grown businesses that are changing the landscape this Yuletide season!

Gimme Some: The Gift of Expression and Creativity

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Handmade jewelry has been trending nowadays. From young kids to working adults, it seems we’ve all been bitten by the nostalgia bug as we raid closets and bauls for retro looks.

Enter custom jewelry shop Gimme Some by Gabrielle Marin. With pieces reminiscent of candy stores, beach bumming, and daydreams, her works are surprisingly stylish and fresh.

“…I wanted to design and handcraft custom pieces I would personally pay money for… I carefully source my materials, design, and make the pieces by hand. It’s fun!”

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Believe it or not, what inspired Gabrielle’s leap from hobby to business was the South Korean boy band, BTS.

“BTS published their teaser photos for Dynamite and I saw my bias (V) wearing baroque pearl-and-bead earrings from a local Korean brand. I added the item to my shopping cart but was hesitant to pay for them. So I looked up baroque pearls online, got those instead, and successfully made a beautiful pair on the first try, haha!”

More than just bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, Gabrielle likes to put in personal finishing touches to commissioned products. A favorite color, special placement of beads, birthday numbers, etc. She hopes others will proudly show off their ‘gimmes’ through visual stories.

“I’m very happy and proud to say no ‘gimme’ goes unnoticed. It’s awesome!”

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When asked about the best gift she has received, she glowed like the freshwater pearls from her latest collection:

“Motherhood is the best gift. It’s my first real dream come true. Do you know how it feels to realize a (big) dream? I will never not be in awe…”

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Get your fix of cute, carefree designs from Gimme Some on Instagram:

Obra Ilonggo: The Gift of Community and Handicrafts

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President and Chief Creative Director of Obra Ilonggo, Fran Golez, believes there’s more to Iloilo than just good food.

“…we want the whole country, even the world, to see the ingenuity and skills of Ilonggos. We also want to help communities affected during the pandemic. I was initially tapped together with a cousin until we formed a team who went around looking for artisans and communities.”

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Now, Obra Ilonggo has expanded to include people from various industries such as design, sales, production, marketing, accounting, and lifestyle. As a social enterprise that hopes to empower communities, entrepreneurs, artisans, and local women, they are best known for their beautiful handicrafts using indigenous materials from Panay and Guimaras islands.

“Majority of our products are handcrafted and production takes a while. We don’t short-change our communities because we want them to be happy with the kind of work they are doing. Sometimes, no two items are the same. They’re all very unique.”

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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects MSMEs, like Obra Ilonggo, to continuously innovate to remain competitive among buyers. Fran on the other hand, derives inspiration from her constant travels and love for all things exquisite. When asked what kind of gift she liked best, she said she loves anything handmade.

“…I appreciate the time and effort done by the maker to create the piece. It has so much character.”

Fran and the rest of her team dream of getting these handmade products into more Filipino homes.

“…Ilonggos are not kuripot, as what most people think. Basta tahum, mabakal gid sila.”

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Check out gorgeous Ilonggo handicrafts from Obra Ilonggo on Instagram: @obrailonggo

RRAW Skincare: The Gift of Self-Care and Confidence

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How are you taking care of yourself despite a busy schedule? Skincare shouldn’t be last on your list. Taking care of YOU should be a priority to maintain that inner glow and confidence. Irene Tan, owner of RRAW Skincare, agrees.

“My skincare routine is super simple! It’s a three-step process that I’ve been doing for years now.”

What began as a hobby between her and her sister soon grew to be a successful enterprise.

“The best gift I’ve ever received is probably my yearly plane tickets so that I’m able to see my sister once a year in Canada. She’s my business partner and we’re literally so close. The fact that we’re able to run this business on opposite sides of the globe truly makes me happy.”

Today, the RRAW shop is packed with colorful scrubs, infused body oils, vitamin-rich creams, and refreshing sunblocks. Made from organic ingredients, their products are also cruelty-free and alcohol-free. Good news for those with sensitive skin.

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“We want our customers to feel happy and excited...Skincare is supposed to be fun! We want to be there for you, and help you realize the importance of taking care of your skin.”

Aside from scrubs and cleansers, Irene suggests drinking lots of water.

With so much good stuff, how do we choose which one-of-a-kind present to give our fun-loving (but perpetually active) sisters?

“I would stock up on our sunscreen and tanning oil. The country is almost returning to normal - which means Summer 2022 is definitely around the corner!”

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Learn more about healthy skincare with RRAW on Instagram: @rrawph

Don’t forget to #SupportLokal this Christmas. Buying from local vendors, home entrepreneurs, and friends will go a long way to keep them afloat. Your gifts will be unique, too!

Whether you have some last-minute spending to do OR you haven’t started yet, local businesses will appreciate your purchases. Make sure to visit Gimme SomeObra Ilonggo, and RRAW for thoughtful, customized gifts everyone will love.

Happy shopping!

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Author Portrait

Cris Antonio

Cris Antonio is a freelance Copywriter, Editor, and Speaker. If she’s not writing or editing, she helps business owners and young adults build their presence on the Web.