My husband and I are crazy about “Filipinizing” our home. While at post, diplomats are expected to entertain – to have guests of different nationalities (other diplomats, businessmen, etc.) over for socialising – which usually means talking shop over food and drinks. 😉 Those opportunities are a great way to showcase our culture and what we have back home.
So during my last trip to Manila, I bought some traditional Filipino accessories and clothes that I can wear to different events. It is often hard to convince people at diplomatic events that I’m actually Filipino because of how I look. My husband’s looks don’t really help either as people often think he’s Chinese/Japanese/Korean.
For the home, I also bought some art (which will be going up on our walls tomorrow! Yay!) to replace some of the paintings we have in the dining room. I also got a couple of trinkets and home decor. The plan was to get one big statement piece or just small items that are to be evenly distributed in our home. I don’t want our home to look like a souvenir shop. 😉 Come to think of it, I should blog about our home one of these days but maybe after the Filipino paintings have gone up. 😉
People I’ve met during my previous travels and also here in Malaysia often ask me where to get barongs (traditional Filipino clothing for men that women are now also trying out) as well as ternos and Maria Clara’s (for females). I even got some queries about the Dita Sandico-Ong Filipiniana wrap which is a versatile piece (to blog about this soon, promise!), and my favourite T’nalak skirt made by dream weavers of the T’boli tribe. In fact, my new advocacy is to let people know we’re not only about ternos and barongs (though I must admit that I love those too). We have an abundance of tribes from the different parts of the Philippines that add diversity to our culture and we should be proud of them too. In fact, I believe we should show off all the beautiful aspects of our culture – especially the ones that have been around prior to colonial rule.
I often get asked where’s the best place to get authentic Filipino items. While SM Kultura’s products are well and good, they’re actually mass produced. If you want authentic, if you want to support the livelihood of our tribes back at home, and to keep their traditions and this aspect of our culture alive, I suggest you either buy directly from them or from the next best thing – The Manila Collectible Co. in Intramuros, Manila.
Appropriately, The Manila Collectible Co. is located inside Intramuros one – if not the – most historical places in Manila. It’s one of my favourite areas in my city where the Manila Cathedral, the San Agustin Church, and Fort Santiago are located. Going to Intramuros is like stepping back in time – back to when the Philippines was under Spanish rule. Intramuros is also the place where Alvin and I had several of our dates (we’re big history nerds) and where he eventually proposed. 😉
I’ve been to the Manila Collectible Co. twice already and in both visits, it did not disappoint. I always feel like going on an all out shopping spree. Virgie, the manager of the place whom I’ve met in both visits, is highly knowledgeable of the merchandise. From the tribes’ histories, their traditions, and their products – she knows them like the back of her hand. Talking to her is like being treated to a rather entertaining history lesson.
Did I mention that they also sell coffee, liquor, and food? All Filipino-made of course. 😉 Ask them for Mango Rum. It’s to die for. 😀
Pearl necklaces and bracelets made from capiz and mother of pearl.
Isn’t this necklace a beauty? Made from mother of pearl, it was a bit above my budget so I’ll just have to come back for it. 😀
Bulul is the Ifugaos’ (a tribe from the Northern part of the Philippines) god of rice. It is said that it takes about 6 weeks to make a bulul carving/statue due to the required rituals.
The kulintang is an ancient musical instrument used by the Muslim population in the Southern part of the Philippines. The Manila Collectible Co. sometimes holds workshops where they teach people how to play the it. The shop actually holds several kinds of workshops, tours, tribal rituals, and shows. On the day of my second visit, they were set to have an event with Maguindanaoans who were in Manila to do a peace ritual. It was scheduled at night and I was on a very tight schedule so sadly, I wasn’t able to attend. 🙁
Remember my T’nalak skirt which I always talk about? (Honestly, it’s also quite overused by now.) This is the place where I got the fabric. They also have Ikat cloth (made by Ifugaos using a reverse dyeing process), malongs (‘tube cloth’ used by Filipinos in the Southern part of the Philippines as skirts), Inaul (handwoven Maguindanaoan fabric), and a lot more.
I love how there are lots of modern options to show off the creativity of the different tribes. <3 A clutch, accessories, stylised tribal clothing pieces (I love wearing my T’nalak skirt with a plain white top!). They make any outfit so much more interesting.
This one is quite an interesting piece. It’s a replica of the oldest written document discovered in the Philippines. The Laguna Copper Plate Inscription is believed to have been written in 900 AD. Written in Kavi (the precursor of Baybayin which was the system of writing of the Filipinos before the Spaniards came), the document talks about debt to the Chief of Tondo that has been cleared.
Inaul Malongs – once you hold the fabric in your hands, it would be impossible for you not to appreciate how soft and exquisite they are.
As for what I bought there, I’ll have to save it for a different post. Once I’ve worn the wearables and displayed the decor in our home. 😉
Currently, you can visit The Manila Collectible Co. at:
Villa Blanca Building, Cabildo corner Beaterio, Intramuros, Manila (right behind the Manila Cathedral)
**Come April 2015, they are set to move inside Fort Santiago which is just a short walk from the Villa Blanca building.
You can call them at:
+632 485 9751
+63917 861 3011
Email them at: