Gift guide: Pinoy artisan products for the art nerds in your life
Let’s be real: Navigating through the “holiday rush” is practically an extreme sport. The mere thought of having to encounter long lines at the stores, find a parking space, and go through an existential crisis upon realizing that you have zero idea what your loved ones want for Christmas is enough to send you down a spiral.
The gift-giving game gets even trickier, though, when you’re dealing with art lovers. These people have an eye for aesthetics and an appreciation for the unconventional. (They have a knack for making you feel like last-minute gift shopping is a crime against creativity, too.) So, how exactly do you win their hearts this season?
Well, here’s a gift guide that screams “I put actual thought into this,” sorted according to the forms of art they’re (possibly) into. Because honestly? The last thing you’d want to see is them side-eyeing your present and thinking, “Great, another mug. How original.”
Oh, and by the way, each item in this curation is 100 percent Filipino-made. (You can even dodge the shopping chaos because all are available online.)
For the bookworm
Why they’ll love it: Believe us when we say that bibliophiles (more or less) have a pile of books they haven’t read yet. So, instead of merely wrapping up another book to add to their tall stack, why not give them something that will constantly encourage them to pick up where they left off?
Each Langkit bookmark is handwoven in Mindanao—featuring farm-grown cotton tassels from the Philippines.
Bonus: Opening a book means being reminded of the rich cultural heritage and skilled artisans behind the piece. It may be small, but it is a meaningful way to support local craftsmanship.
Where to cop it: Narra Studio
For the functional art collector
Why they’ll love it: Dogs are indeed man’s best friend, but plants become their trusty companion with this cute home accent. Made from coconut coir, every planter is personally handcrafted by a Filipino artisan, which means it has that unique touch that can’t be replicated.
Having one would also feel like adopting a pet—minus the commitment. In fact, other dog breeds and animals like hedgehog, raccoon, hippopotamus, and brontosaurus, among many others, are also available.
Bonus: Even black-thumbed people can enjoy it, too. While this handmade item is technically for greens, it can also serve as a holder for anything you have at home—from paint brushes and pens to other trinkets. Plus, you get to empower artisan communities in the Philippines.
Where to cop it: LIKHÂ
(P.S. At the moment, the store ships within the United States only.)
For the logophile
Why they’ll love it: Handwritten notes are (arguably) a lost art. So, people who have a penchant for letters will appreciate the clever wordplay in these witty greeting cards. (I mean, who wouldn’t crack a smile upon reading “You Make Miso Happy”?)
Besides bringing back the joy of putting pen to paper, every card purchased plants a seed of positive change. This brand employs female sex-trafficking survivors in the Philippines and gives them a chance to rebuild their lives.
Bonus: These cards incorporate handmade and recycled papers—making them an ideal gift for language lovers *and* an environmentally conscious choice. (And the cards come with envelopes!)
Where to cop it: Good Paper
You may also like: Save tons on holiday gifts with these Black Friday deals
For the fashionista
Why they’ll love it: Bayong—but make it vogue. Who said running errands can’t be fashionable? This handwoven bag can be your stylish friend’s new sidekick for grocery shopping and strolling through city streets.
It’s crafted by the women of Basey, Samar using a traditional technique that involves gathering Tikog leaves (reed grass with solid and jointless stems), bleaching them under the sun, and ultimately weaving them into bags, hats, mats, etc.
Bonus: It goes beyond being just an accessory. It’s a wearable piece of art that tells a tale of culture and tradition. Similar to LIKHÂ, buying one means empowering a community of Filipino artisans.
Where to cop it: Kimona Pinoy
For the art-curious godchild
Why they’ll love it: “Start it young!” We’re not sure how many times we’ve heard this from random people. But when it comes to instilling a love for art, culture, and storytelling, we couldn’t agree more. Many kids love two things about children’s books: colorful illustrations and enchanting stories.
And you know which has both? “The Myths and Legends of the Philippines” by Alexandra Romualdez Broekman. From the stories of pre-colonial gods and goddesses to the mischievous antics of legendary creatures, a total of 10 tales are retold and illustrated against the backdrop of our main island groups—Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao—in this book.
Bonus: Not only is it an entertaining read, but it is also a (subtle) lesson in history and culture. Kids can soak in the vibrant hues of Filipino traditions, all while learning about the people that make up the archipelago.
Where to cop it: Narra Studio.