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The perfect place to ‘shop with a conscience’

The Spirit of Asia Gift Gallery is a project of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, and showcases the best of the region to earn money for selected projects


Bobby Castillo’s bamboo tray with rice grains, berries and rambutan.

Ugu Bigyan’s studio pottery with wild berries.

As a reaction to a sluggish global economy, conscientious shopping has become the norm.

More stores are coming up with unique concepts, where the merchandise uses recyclable materials to lessen carbon footprint, provides livelihood to indigent communities, or raises funds for an advocacy.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) recently launched Spirit of Asia Gift Gallery, which aims to provide income for its projects.

“Since the foundation is nonprofit, this gift gallery is not a business proposition,” explains Carmencita Abella, president of RMAF. “We don’t call it a store. It’s our way of promoting the craftsmanship in the Philippines and Asia, particularly in countries where our awardees are based.

Finely embroidered piña shawl from Aklan and Oskar Atendido’s tamburin necklace are atop Castillo’s glass tray.

“Many work in communities which engage local artisans. Spirit of Asia  serves as a showcase for  these beautiful things to a wider market. We wanted to connect the gift gallery with the foundation to raise resources for our programs such as the Leadership Institute. Each purchase is actually a  donation to the foundation. It well help in our work of  promoting quiet, ethical leaders who are trying to change their societies.”

The gift gallery opens in time for the annual Ramon Magsaysay Awards on Aug. 31 at Philippine International Convention Center.


Works of art

CARMENCITA Abella, president of RMAF, and Rachy Cuna, creative director of Spirit of Asia Gallery; bamboo painting and plate by Cuna

“The Ramon Magsaysay Awards not only honor the achievements of our awardees, but also why they do that kind of work and their impact on their respective communities. We wanted to capture that spirit and connect that with the  craftsmanship and works of art that are Asian,” she says.

The gallery debuted with the theme of  bamboo, Asia’s symbol of resilience. Most of the works come from local artisans. Creative director Rachy Cuna gathered  bamboo banks, containers, rainmakers, fertility sticks and letter openers from the provinces.

Ugu Bigyan’s stoneware bamboo planters with palay ng manok flowers and saplings of Chinese bamboo. PHOTOS BY NELSON

Sculptor Bobby Castillo interpreted bamboo in glass and hammered metal by making vases and trays.

Potter Ugu Bigyan created bamboo stoneware planters, birds and calamansi strainers.

Cuna produced paintings and plates with designs of the bamboo and its nodes.

Then there are embroidered piña scarves from Aklan and hablon from Iloilo. Fashion insider Oskar Atendido created antique-inspired jewelry.

HAMMERED metal bamboo trays by Bobby Castillo are adorned with talisay berries and baston ni San José.

Future collections will offer more Asian merchandise such as stingray products from Indonesia and handwoven textiles from Ahmedabad, India.

“We are attracting the corporate market, which is looking for one-of-a-kind, artistic and affordable gifts that would be treasured by their recipients. It’s a fresh approach to fundraising. The merchandise serves a noble purpose—supporting the work of the foundation,” underscores Abella.

Spirit of Asia Gift Gallery is at G/F Ramon Magsaysay Center, 1680 Roxas Blvd., Manila; tel. 5213166. loc 136

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Tags: Lifestyle , Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation , shopping , Spirit of Asia Gift Gallery

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