All I Want For Christmas: A Filipinx Christmas Gift Guide


If you grew up in a Filipina/x household then this holiday blog post is already months overdue. You’ve probably had your parol, lights, and Christmas tree up since the turn of the fall season. Maybe you and your fam have already been bopping to your holiday playlist (hey Mariah!)  
For those of you who didn’t have the privilege of growing up around Filipina/x, you might be surprised to know that our country of origin, and therefore many of us in the diaspora, celebrate the world’s longest Christmas season. And I don’t mean “the holidays”, I mean Christmas specifically. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country (thanks to our Spanish colonizers!) and we take Christmas very seriously. In fact, we are notoriously known to begin the countdown to this festive season right on September 1st and celebrate all throughout the “Ber” months – September, October, November, December…and honestly, let’s just throw in January there too!
Given this uniquely Filipinx tradition, this blog post is, admittedly, a little late. But as the holiday season fast approaches for the rest of the world, I’m happy to bring you a round-up of some of Toronto based Pinay-owned businesses that you can support while crossing off that gift list! And as a money-wise, budget-conscious immigrant daughter, I’m making sure to give you options that will be kind to your wallet this holiday season. Let’s dive in!
 

The Pinays of Pluma Collective

If you’ve got a book lover in your life, you’ll want to share the gift of Filipinx-Canadian literature penned, edited, and published by the Pinays of the Pluma Collective – a writer’s collective of Filipinx-Canadian writers whose works span generations and genres. From intimate memoirs to culinary delights to collections of poetry and prose, these women bring a range of options for your favourite readers.
 
Photo by The New Filipino Kitchen.
The New Filipino Kitchen is a collection of recipes from Filipinos across the diaspora and the stories and memories attached to their favourite dishes. This cookbook-with-a-twist features an essay and recipe by award-winning food writer and host of the podcast Exploring Filipino Kitchens Nastasha Alli, among other notable Filipinos.
 
Photo by Karla Villanueva Danan
Jaisa Sulit’s Purpose in Paralysis is a powerful memoir exploring her discovery of mindfulness, emotional energetic work, and shamanism after experiencing a traumatic accident leaving her with a spinal cord injury and paralysis from the waist down. It’s a beautiful unraveling of her journey to walk again, but also of finding her own truth on a deeper, more spiritual level.
 
Photo by Justine Abigail Yu
And of course, here comes my shameless plug of my own personal labour of love, Living Hyphen. An emerging magazine that explores the experiences of what it means to be a hyphenated Canadian, Living Hyphen is a collection of short stories, essays, illustrations, poetry, and photography that dives deep into what it means to live in between cultures. Its inaugural issue Entrances & Exits features the works of artists and writers from all across Canada hailing from 30+ ethnicities, religions, and Indigenous nations. Living Hyphen has been known to spark conversations, elicit tears, and bring waves of joy to readers.
But those are just a select few of the emerging talents of the Pluma Collective, there are a multitude of voices for you to hear from and read! 

Cambio & Co.

 
Photo by Cambio & Co.
A favourite of many in the Filipinx diasporic community (and my own personal go-to!) is Cambio & Co. An ethical retailer specializing in contemporary, conscious fashion made with Filipino soul, every piece from Cambio & Co. is designed and handcrafted in the Philippines by talented Filipino artisans to celebrate Filipino craftsmanship, heritage, and culture. The company was co-founded and lovingly nurtured throughout the years by Gelaine Santiago, a social entrepreneur and storyteller working at the intersection of cultural heritage and sustainability.
From heirlooms meticulously handcrafted in the pre-colonial technique of gold filigree to upcycled handbags woven by community artisans in Metro Manila, from backpacks celebrating Indigenous craftsmanship and textiles to jewellery made of natural materials, sustainably sourced from our bountiful islands, Cambio & Co. has so much to offer.
 

The Groggy Owl

 
Photo by The Groggy Owl.
The Groggy Owl is an ethical and handcrafted jewellery brand founded by Sarah Dizon Sowinski. Each piece is made by hand in small batches, using locally sourced and recycled materials wherever possible. Sarah is a true renaissance woman doing everything from marketing, photography, marketing, distribution, and of course, product design!
For the Pinays in your life, consider shopping the Pilipinx collection which features jewellery highlighting Tagalog words as an ode to our heritage and roots.
 

Kwarto Home

 
Photo by Kwarto Home.
Got someone with a green thumb on your list? Looking for something to brighten up someone’s space? Kwarto Home is a new shop that specializes in functional, ethically sourced, and environmentally sustainable home décor with a focal point on plants and greenery. Meaning “room” in Tagalog, Carla Felix co-founded Kwarto with her partner, Tim, with the aim of providing quality Filipino-made home décor that is inspired by their travels to the Philippines. They’re just getting started but this is definitely one to watch!
 

Bayongciaga by WilloWeaves

 
Photo by Bayongciaga.
Willoweaves was founded by Kathryn Nolasco who partnered up with Bayongciaga, a homegrown sustainable brand, to bring the bayong here to Canada. Bayong bags are known to be used among Filipinos to bring goods to and from the wet market, but these Bayongciaga beauties are designed with a modern twist to be proudly carried anywhere and everywhere. Made from strips of recyclable plastic that are carefully handwoven by a community of weavers in Southern Philippines, the Bayonciaga bag also provides a sustainable income for the artisans who are preserving a piece of our cultural heritage and bringing it to the mainstream.
 

Hair Love Studio

Photo by Hair Love Studio.
If you prefer giving the gift of experiences, consider giving a gift certificate for a service from Hairlove by Loriebelle Nestor in uptown Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton area. A bright and modern boutique salon with a welcoming atmosphere, a positive vibe, and great tunes, Hairlove has all the elements to make you feel right at home. The salon is stacked with a team that focuses on providing genuine care to meet your styling needs and hair goals.
 

MadebyMree

 
Photo by Maria Iscel.
Want to give something more tangible, even edible? Skip the chocolates and give the sweet delight of macarons from Maria Iscel Bulatao. But we’re not talking about just any macarons here, many of Maria’s creations are Filipino flavoured treats that bring memories of our warm and lush islands. As part of her “Flavours of the Philippines” series, Maria’s macarons include flavours like ube macapuno, sans rival, langka pastillas, banana cue, calamansi cheesecake, buko pandan, among a variety of others. As Maria says, “I love baking the flavour of the Philippines macarons. It helps root me back to my culture and challenges me to create my favourite flavours growing up.”
 

Suzette Cruz Studio

 
Photo by Suzette Cruz Studio.
Need some greeting cards to spruce up your presents? Or maybe you want to gift some handcrafted, custom-made ornaments for next year? Given how long Filipinos celebrate the Christmas season, you know you’ll get all the bang for your buck with these shiny baubles! Suzette Cruz Studio is a Toronto-based studio specializing in calligraphy to create delicate and unique arts and crafts. Founded by a proud Pinay mom, Ette, works from her home to create and experiment with various materials and media. It’s the perfect way to add a touch of sparkle and style to any gift!
 

Pinay Collection

 
Last but certainly not least is the very brand whose blog you’re on! Keep your loved ones warm with Pinay Collection’s line of crewneck sweaters while also encouraging them to proudly wear their Filipinx identity all winter long.
But if you’re looking to add just a small touch of that Filipinx magic, you might consider some handwritten Tagalog holiday cards. You can greet the whole pamilya or even the entire barangay with some good cheer!
Founded by Jovie Galit, a passionate social worker by day and creative entrepreneur by night, Pinay Collection is taking back negative words once used to silence and shame Filipinx and reclaiming them to create new meanings.  From the Mataray crewneck to the Maarte Since Birth sweater, these pieces are powerful statements that will pack a punch and make any of your loved ones feel fierce AF. 

 

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Author: Justine Abigail Yu

Justine Abigail Yu is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Living Hyphen, an intimate journal that explores the experiences of hyphenated Canadians and examines what it means to be part of a diaspora. She and the publication have been featured on national and local media outlets including CTV National News, CBC Metro Morning, CBC Ontario Morning, and CityTV’s Breakfast Television.

Justine Abigail is a fierce advocate for diversity and representation in Canada’s arts and literature scene. Her mission is to stir the conscience and spur social change.

Social Links:
@justineabigail / @livinghyphen

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