Latest Stories

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

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

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

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. She has become the sex slave of her best friend
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  7. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  8. Most criticized books list includes Hunger Games, Perks
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken ferry in Korea
  • Aquino: ‘Doubting Thomases’ now contributing to PH recovery
  • Fire engulfs apartments in Sampaloc
  • Messy warehouse belongs to Unicef, WFP, says Soliman
  • Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels release hostage
  • Sports

  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus