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Gifts that give back

Michelle Solano
Here are 5 Filipino brands that give back to our country

SWEET PINOY FLAVOR. These chocolates are helping Filipino farmers while giving you a sweet fix. Photo courtesy of Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates

MANILA, Philippines – Christmas is the time of giving.

Why limit our generosity to our circle of friends and family when there are many ways to use the holiday season to support small businesses and the local industry in our country?

Not only will you be giving thoughtfully unique gifts to your family and friends, you will also be giving back to the country.

1) Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates 

When you hear chocolate, you instantly think Swiss or Belgian.

Believe it or not, though famous for their chocolate brands, no European country grows their own cacao beans — their climate is too cold for it. This gave Philo Chua, founder of Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates, the idea that it is time for the Philippines to grow and produce its own high quality chocolates.

Proudly Filipino product:

Like other chocolate brands, Theo & Philo chocolates have milk chocolate and dark chocolate variants. But the real bestsellers are flavors with their very own cultural twists. Where else in the world can you find chocolate flavors like Green Mango & Salt, Labuyo, Barako, Pili & Pinipig and Calamansi?

Causes and sectors you will be helping:

For every purchase of this product you are helping provide sustainable work for our local farmers in Bacolod (where the sugar is being grown) and Davao (where Theo & Philo get their cacao).

2) Jacinto & Lirio Kwaderno

Photo courtesy of Jacinto & Lirio

What started out as a “pest” that was destroying the livelihood of fishing communities and congesting large bodies of water became a statement of transformation and Filipino resilience.

This uncommon origin story belongs to Jacinto & Lirio and their brand of water hyacinth (commonly called water lily) leather products. From high end bags to refillable journals, Jacinto & Lirio has transformed the “pest” into a blessing to their partner communities in Laguna and Pampanga. 

Proudly Filipino product:

Jacinto & Lirio Kwaderno is the Philippines’ answer to Moleskine. The texture of the water hyacinth leather journal makes one wonder at the ingenuity of our Filipino craftsmen and will make anyone proud of our local products.

Causes and sectors you will be helping:

Aside from the local farming industries which you are empowering with the purchase of this product, you are also helping prevent floods in these communities (the overabundance of water lilies may contribute to clogging and obstructions in the waterways and irrigation).

3) The Golden Egg

Photo courtesy of The Golden Egg's Facebook page

If there’s one thing we Filipinos love about the Christmas season, it’s the handaan and noche buena.

Being food lovers is as much a part of the Filipino genetic make-up as bayanihan, Simbang Gabi and videoke. Give your loved ones a taste of a true Filipino delicacy with The Golden Egg salted eggs this holiday season. Although it is not made of real gold, the taste is quite unforgettable.

Proudly Filipino made:

The Golden Egg is a brand of salted eggs cooked and prepared by relocated settlers in a Gawad Kalinga village in Brgy. Enkanto, Angat, Bulacan. The golden coloring comes from turmeric, which they use as a more natural substitute to the usual Sudan red dye that is said to be carcinogenic.

Causes and sectors you will be helping:

Small business duck farmers are also the main stakeholders in The Golden Egg. By eliminating the middle men, the business is paying our farmers at fair trade prices.  

4) Manila Sole Shoes

Photo courtesy of

Manila Sole’s mission is to provide “stylish footwear that prioritizes not only comfort, but helping the environment as well.”

These environmentally-aware entrepreneurs do so by using soles made out of recycled tires. 

Proudly Filipino product: 

Each shoe is developed and handmade in the Philippines. Each design is named after a hero from Philippine history.

Causes and sectors you will be helping:

By buying these handcrafted shoes, you are reinvigorating the old non-machine-made shoe industry in the Philippines and helping the environment, too!

5) Bayani Brew

Photo courtesy of Bayani Brew - Enchanted Farm Cafe's Facebook page

Bayani Brew is another product coming from the bayanihan communities of Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan.

Their slogan is “All Nutritious, All Delicious, All-Filipino Iced Tea” and their products come at the perfect time when tea drinking and tea shops are all the rage in the country. Production of Bayani Brew teas contribute to providing sustainable income and much needed countryside development.

Proudly Filipino product:

Bayani Brew aims to create a new breed of Filipino consumers who are health conscious but also socially aware. Their tea flavors are from homegrown crops such as tanglad, pandan, calamansi and purple kamote.

Causes and sectors you will be helping:

Aside from supporting the farming communities where the ingredients are grown, buying this product helps provide homes and livelihood programs to relocated settlers of Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm. –


Michelle Rose Solano is a development worker and education advocate. 

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