Here are a few of the ideas, places and products that got us in 2014. These will probably get our support and interest in the coming years.
While walking inside the shops at the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre, I came across some handmade watches by Pikul Hoonkan. I got myself one that is made of maple wood and genuine leather. The barley design makes me think of two things whenever I look at the dial: that line from Sting’s Fields of Gold and one of my favorite alcoholic drinks.
My skin develops rash from wearing metal and I usually just put this on at the office, where the cold room temperature ensures my sweat and the metal will not cause irritation. Aside from the design – well, how do I say this? – you can only tell you got a good watch by testing it over time. Right now, I am happy with my affordable handmade watch. I will get other colors and designs when I go back to Bangkok or Singapore. The Instagram account to check out for this item is pikul_hoonkan.
Bags by Rubbertree
In 2014, I began to try leather products made by local designers. These days, you’ll often find me carrying a hand-cut and hand-stitched XL Scout by Bags by Rubbertree. (I’m guessing this was derived from the names of Ruben and Trina Flores, the couple behind the leather goods.) It took us a few e-mails and weeks before my order was delivered, but it was worth the wait. They got the customized pocket that I specified works perfectly. Visit www.bagsbyrubbertree.com.
Local Love Philippines
My local travels this year included days spent in Ifugao, Baguio, Bacolod, Silay, Laguna, and Batangas. These are mostly trail running, business and class trips, which also gave me chances to explore locally made products. I would love to go around the country more in 2015, but there are budget and time constraints to deal with.
When my wallet and calendar prevent me from satisfying my craving for our local food and beverage, I’ll be relying on Local Love Philippines. The company helps us enjoy wine, snacks, jams, coffee, chocolate and other products from all over the country. These are sourced mostly by my Organic Agriculture classmate, Jacqueline Ong, and I’m sure she will be willing to tell you the stories behind the products if you’ll ask. Follow their Facebook page.
I was born in the rainy month of August. This year, I turned 31 in a stormy Vietnam. (The fence of the Reunification Palace was damaged by a tree felled by the heavy rains that day.) While stuck inside the Ho Chi Minh Post Office, I bought instant pho, mainly because I liked its packaging. The container is reusable and woven from a local material. Inside are the noodles, vegetables (rau), soup powder (sup bot), oil (dau) and soup powder (sup set). The label indicates that this was designed by Products Simplified. The website is www.products-simplified.com. I would like to have an instant La Paz batchoy packaged this way.
After months of deciding on what will be my day-to-day fountain pen, I got myself the see-through Lamy Vista. Lamy is a German brand and this pen was designed by Wolfgang Fabian. I’m still testing the writing quality of the pen. The blue Lamy ink that I use with the pen appears a bit pale. (The words on the photo above are from Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.”) So far, I am satisfied with the performance of the pen itself as it glides smoothly on my writing pads and the release of the ink is consistent.