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Tips and Guides

5 Lovely Stores That Bring Communities Together

From crafts and local textiles to souvenirs and food, here are the stores to hit if you want to shop and do some good

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Photography: Dairy Darilag & Kurt Alvarez

Almost everyone loves to shop, and there is nothing wrong with that. But have you ever thought of where your purchase came from, or if the person who made it was treated well? The problem with mass-produced purchases is that apart from the country written on the tag, you could hardly trace its actual origins.

Stock up on some good karma instead by buying at stores that support local communities, use sustainable manufacturing processes, cut out middlemen, and ensure that its suppliers are treated fairly. In the process, you’ll help everyone out, and get a unique find, as well!

Common Room PH



If you’ve ever gone to a bazaar to find a really good, local crafter, only to be disappointed to see them gone the following weekend, then you’ll be happy to visit Common Room PH. More than 30 DIY, handmade, and crafter brands, including those of Ella Lama, Habilcrafts, Raw.tura, and Pop Junk Love, occupy every inch of their cozy Katipunan store. It’s for indie handmade brands who either have a hard time getting spots at bazaars—or are looking for a more permanent location—to all come together in one space. “It’s a common room for local and homegrown brands. It’s a common space also for makers to gather and collaborate. It can be a common space for goods. It can be a common space for people. It can be a common space for ideas,” says Roma Agsalud, who co-owns it with her sister Maan. (Read all about Common Room PH here.) 325 F. dela Rosa St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City; open Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am to 10pm; or visit their Facebook page.

The Manila Collectible Co.



Strategically located within historical Intramuros, The Manila Collectible Co. is not your usual tourist-trap souvenir shop, as it is chock-full of indigenous textiles, Ifugao bags and rice gods, masks, and local paintings. But far from being just a store, owner Charisse Aquino-Tugade enthuses that it is also meant to educate the shoppers about Filipino culture.



“I am always searching for my roots, and I realize that there’s so much more we don’t know about our history before 1521,” says Charisse, who is an anthropologist and heritage advocate. She also organizes field trips, children’s workshops, and heritage tours, among many other cultural activities. “We are able to educate people about our history. We can still do more in educating our kids as they have fun in the process.” Sta. Clara St., Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila; tel. (02) 485-9751, or visit their Facebook page.

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Echostore



Before “green living” became the catchphrase du jour, Echostore was already walking the talk way back in 2008. Shop owners Jeannie Javelosa, Chit Juan, and Reena Francisco pioneered the friendly store that sold products that all had a meaningful story behind it. Everything from the coffee down to the lotions and dishwashing soap all came from sustainable sources, helped communities, indigenous tribes, and NGOs, and most important of all—were Filipino-made. “More than just a store, this is like a center, a hub, where we coordinate with people who help communities market wonderful products and sell them mainstream,” says Javelosa. NDC Bldg., 116 Tordesillas St., Makati City; G/F Serendra Piazza, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, tel. (02) 901-3485; G/F The Podium, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City; or go to their Facebook page for more info and branch locations.

GREAT Women Showroom and Café



This extra-special shop and café sells products that benefit women. This private enterprise (“GREAT” is an acronym for “Gender Responsive Economic Action for the Transformation of Women”) has been discreetly but successfully promoting the growth of women-led businesses and women-made products. Take your pick from stylish bags woven by the female inmates of the Davao City Correctional, crocheted toys by the urban poor communities in Payatas, and traditional weaves by indigenous tribes—even their pastries are made by start-up women bakers! (Read more about GREAT Women here) G/F Tesoro’s Bldg., 1016 A. Arnaiz Ave., Makati City, or visit their website.

Real Food



Tucked within the sprawling Southern lifestyle center of Molito amidst its Thai restaurants and late-night bars is this gem of a community store. Dubbed as your “healthy neighborhood grocer” by its owners Katrina Mañosa, Bea Lhullier, Honey Almendral, and Nicole Fandiño, Real Food lives up to its name. Farmers and various suppliers deliver to Real Food regularly, ensuring fresh and honestly made farm-to-store produce and products.


Real Food believes in supporting the local agricultural industry, as 90% of their products are sourced locally from farmers, cooperatives, and social enterprises that benefit from your purchases. So feast on jam made out of wild raspberries from Mt. Banahaw, honey from Bukidnon, and ready-to-eat bottled pasta sauces and dips while feeling good about helping out the people who made these products. (And don’t forget to snap up an MNLGrow seedling kit before he head out.) Molito Lifestyle Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City; open daily from 10am to 10pm, or visit their Facebook page.

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