Creature comforts: Alaga lifestyle products for your pets
MANILA, Philippines – My youngest daughter Alice nebulizes her cats when they sniffle or cough (not a cat hair allergy, no worries), feeds them ground up chicken, fresh bangus, tawilis or tamban – no left-overs for these picky eaters. On special occasions, they may have canned pate. They have a dentist as well as a regular vet. As soon as they reach sexual maturity, they are neutered or spayed for their reproductive well-being.
None of the dozens of kitties Alice has cared for, are pedigreed or "may lahi." So why bother, some might wonder? After all, this is still a country where unwanted kittens are routinely abandoned kilometers away from their homes (niligaw), and dog meat is considered as special pulutan. Incredible as it seems, Alice cherishes her common, paperless, no-commercial-value animal companions, many of them shelter rescues, as much as the cosseted, certified pets purchased for 5 figures from breeding mills.
Thankfully, Alice is not unique. Everywhere in Metro Manila, one finds little pockets of kindness, often where one least expects them: the destitute old man in the kariton sharing meals with his many dogs; the street vendor whose cat companion wears a lacy pink hair bow as she gravely sizes up customers; the contented momma cat at the dimsum place, grown fat and sleek from kitchen scraps. Who is to say that “dumb” animals are less deserving of our love? No dog or cat ever committed an extrajudicial killing or stole public funds.
Cats may not be as conventionally demonstrative as dogs, but they have their own endearing ways, as numerous cat videos will prove. Tipsy, a calico stray who climbed over our wall and stayed for good, gives me belly massages. It’s her way of sweetly hinting that I should lose weight. Alice found Pauline, a tuxedo shaped like a bowling pin, at the neighborhood carinderia. Ill treatment on these mean streets had left her blind in one eye, with a broken leg and no tail. Deeply traumatized, she still quivers with surprise when we pet her. Then, like the Star Wars robot BB-8, she chirps excitedly and skitters away, but she always returns for more good loving.
Having so many animals around, Alice realized that they also need and deserve their own space. That's how Alaga came about. She designed and conceptualized this line of lifestyle products for our animal companions that consider their comfort and dignity while being mindful of fair trade and environmental sustainability. The Peaceful Pod and the Blissful Bed are hand-woven from water hyacinths around a sturdy wicker and metal frame, by an urban poor co-op in Metro Manila.
As part of a virtuous production chain, the Alaga project provides livelihood while also unclogging the waterways, and mitigating floods. The pod and the bed come with a quilted mat for greater snuggliness. The water hyacinth material can be wiped down with a damp cloth and aired in sunlight.
In the spirit of giving back to the animal community itself, P150 from the sale of each pod and P100 from every bed is donated in the buyer’s name to the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) which rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes hundreds of abused, neglected and abandoned animals.
Gandhi has said that a nation’s greatness and moral progress may be judged by the way its animals are treated. If there were a hierarchy of the sentient creatures capable of giving and receiving affection, surely our pets deserve places of honor over certain toxic and terrible human beings. Meanwhile, the gift of an Alaga Blissful Bed or Peaceful Pod is a concrete and lasting way to show pets our love and to make them feel safer in their own personal space, while they are part of our very imperfect world. – Rappler.com
For more details, visit Alaga's Facebook page.