This article was first published in LoveKyla.
A few months back, I have been buying and storing ground coffee beans that I purchased from the mall. Their beans were grown locally; some came straight from the mountains of Luzon, and others were from Mindanao. Plus, the coffee served in our office, too, was homegrown. I was spoiled, and still am spoiling myself. I’ve lured my dad into the coffee realm and even him can’t stand those sachets of 3n1 anymore.
I’m not saying that those are bad, but when you think about the farms that make coffee here in the Philippines, they don’t really make much. Some farmers partner with Nestle or any other company but when you read about it and talk to the people behind it, the profit isn’t distributed equally. I mean, what’s new? I know it’s impossible to immediately shift how this market “works”, but little gestures like buying—supporting local and homegrown products goes a long way.
I’m proud of the generation we have because we’re slowly tipping the scales of how business works. We’re not only doing a great job in crafting and branding our products, we also make sure where they’re from, how it was made, and who were the people involved. And what do we make sure of? If it supports the local market.
I see celebrities (and even the VP herself!) endorsing locally-made products, big-time companies supporting local businesses, and people, like Hibla Natives PH, who choose to be the platform in giving these folks access to the market.
Nice is the woman behind Hibla Natives. I met her at Turtle’s Nest where, for a time, we did a project together promoting local films by doing a film-showing-thingy in every university/college we could think of. It was fun, and I wish it lasted longer. I’ve always admired her determination in helping the minority, and her compassion towards others. It was a little annoying how we were sort of the same, but at the end of the day it would always make me smile.
“I always remember Che Guevarra when asked about compassion,” Nice says, “Well, everyone has compassion, we just need to navigate it a little. Inherently, we are all good. Fuck commercialism and capitalism for ruining our inner intentions to help, it [really do] sucks.”
She made Hibla Natives because she wanted to make-sell kimonos designed with different textiles of a variety of ethnic grounds. But mega plot twist—she didn’t know what the textiles meant.
“I had no clue, and it was embarrassing. All I knew was, wow, it’s ethnic. That sucks, right? I can’t stay that way.” So Nice talked to some of her Lumad friends in Mindanao and started learning about these local groups. “I was fascinated how dreams influenced their patterns and how epic that concept is!”, she exclaimed. “From that, I thought, the only native individuals we encounter now are the Lumads. They needed of a platform for their livelihood.”
So with Hibla Natives, it’s Nice’s nice way in helping them. Isn’t that nice?
She started selling Kalinga. She met some locals there last December who also sell black and red rice. Nice decided to be the medium of these local groups’ handcrafted and homegrown products made with love. Nice also plans to partner with different organizations/groups, local farmers, and members of the marginalized sector.
But aside from buying how else can we express our support in local/homegrown goods?
“Endorse local products and research where you purchase it,” Nice says, “Does that shop pay their employees well? Do they buy goods from farmers for a reasonable price? Make sure that what you buy is made from and with love.” She says that simple things like researching is helpful. And if you can’t buy or endorse—then be one of the people who will fight for their rights—farmers, IPs, women in the marginalized sector, workers, etc.
“Compassion is essential in anchoring our ideals to the ground. If we don’t navigate this through materializing our philosophy and ideals, we get our purpose from nowhere,” Nice adds, “Compassion keeps us all together. And to quote Che, “a true revolutionary is guided by a strong feeling of love,” and that includes being compassionate—especially to these people.”
Ugh. [wipes tear on my eye]
Kyla Estoya is a super typhoon survivor and an advocate for throwing kindness around like confetti. She enjoys painting, lip-syncing, commuting by bus, and making people smile. She currently lives in Cebu City, Philippines with her dad and younger siblings. She is the founder of The Love Club and The Local Creatives.