Local is the new premium for ‘Brand Pilipinas’

MANILA, Philippines — On June 21, more than a hundred local brands gathered at the Green Sun Hotel Makati as partners in the newly launched movement Brand Pilipinas.

At the core of Brand Pilipinas is the advocacy of uplifting Filipino brands, making “locally made” not a detriment to a product but a testament, a badge of honor to be proud of.

Pinoy as a brand

The first and foremost emotion Brand Pilipinas wants to spark within all Filipinos is patriotism.

Robin Padilla — the movement being his brainchild — gave an impassioned speech during the event’s opening plenary.

Providing his on take on Rizal’s famous quote, he cries “ang taong di marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay ligaw [a person who doesn’t honor his past is lost].” Padilla lamented on the stigma many Filipinos associate with local products and said he wants to create a monumental shift with more people adopting a “Filipino-first” mentality.

WEAR ONE'S PRIDE. 'Brand Pilipinas' co-convener Robin Padilla ditched his suit vest for a more traditional Moro-inspired outfit later in the day.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Brad Geiser, co-convener of the movement stressed, “[colonial] mentality not only hurts local businesses but the economic reputation of the Philippines as a whole.”

The consensus amongst the opening panelists, in a nutshell, is that pride must begin from within.

However, Brand Pilipinas is more than just a battle cry. Brand Pilipinas aims to be a collective among local brands, locally-made products, and homegrown artisan from different industries, that may serve as a country-wide network creating guidelines as well as cultivating skills-sharing among Philippine-based businesses of all sizes.

Skill-sharing and “premium” made accessible

Skills-sharing is one of the key benefits that can cause a ripple, in more ways than you can expect, through Brand Pilipinas.

Aside from the direct business-to-business (B2B) services that can be strengthened not just local but abroad (as discussed in the panel “Why Local B2B Brands are ‘Slaying It”), skills-sharing can transfer knowledge among social enterprises and in democratizing Filipino brands.

Internationally-acclaimed designer Joseph Aloysius Montelibano shared that skills-sharing is part of the way he is personally addressing the accessibility of his own premium brand “Aloysius Worldwide.”

PREMIUM MADE ACCESSIBLE. Designer Joseph Aloysius Montelibano has made it his advocacy to make premium Filpino weaves more accesible by finding ways to streamline design processes.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

TRUE FILIPINO FASHION. Internationally-reknowned Filipino brand 'Aloysius Worldwide' strutted their designs which proudly incorporate local indeginous weaves.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

In an interview, Montelibano said that he spent a year formulating a solution to making “premium” not costly. He does this by 1) simplifying the processes involved in his designs, as the quality of Filipino materials should always remain constant, and 2) training new upcoming designers with the same practices.

“Premium doesn’t mean expensive. It’s about quality, something you can stand behind and enjoy yourself.” Abba Napa, founder of Manam and The Moment Group, echoed in a separate panel “Food: The Search for Origins, the Quest for Relevance.”

FIL-ETH SWAG. 'Pilipinas Got Talent' golden buzzer-earners 'Nocturnal Dance Company' showed their unique dance moves u2014 a synergy of Filipino ethnic moves and hip-hop u2014 in the style they've dubbed 'Fil-Eth Swag.

' Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

The Silicon Valley of Asia

Being a Filipino brand is not just about crafts and indigenous materials though. Filipino pride and quality also come in our newfound strength in social enterprises and technology.

In the panel “Why the Philippines is poised to be the Next Tech Hub,” moderator and co-convener of Brand Pilipinas Amor Maclang described the Philippines as the new Silicon Valley of Asia. Further noting the “reverse diaspora” of Filipinos and foreigners setting up shop in the Philippines for their start-ups.

The panel assembled renowned figures from the start-up scene as Franco Varona, CEO and former GRAB Country Manager; Miguel Cuneta, Chief Community Officer and Co-Founder of Satoshi Citadel Inc; Angeline Tham, Founder of Angkas, Stephen Ku, founder of Chatbot, and Mark Gorriceta, Managing Partner of Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra, the top legal advising firm to the Philippines’ largest tech companies.

CELEBRITY GUESTS. Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Mikael Daez joined in as co-moderators for the event's last panels.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Contrary to popular belief, the panelists highlighted how the Philippines is quick and open to innovations in the tech scene. Varona even praised the government’s fast action when it comes to creating the regulations needed for tech start-ups. Though not perfect (some mention tax breaks and more funding as added support significantly needed) it is more serviceable than expected, the panelists mention.

In reality, more consider the lack of mentorship between start-ups as the larger challenge they face. But luckily, initiatives like Brand Pilipinas can help address such dilemmas.

It can be surmised that there’s a lot to be proud of when it comes to local businesses. It’s thriving more than ever, and through a movement like Brand Pilipinas, hopefully, support can be bolstered for local industries not only through patronization but via a support network among the businesses themselves.

As George Royeca, CEO of Group of Five Creative Concepts, put it “We want Brand Pilipinas to be the brand we wear, the brand we eat, the brand we use, the brand of which we could all be proud of.” - Rappler.com


Tristan Zinampan

Tristan is Rappler’s resident pop culture vulture. He leads Rappler’s youth culture section, Hustle.