We caught up with one of our fabulous brands to chat about 5 Eco-Friendly Spots Every Canadian Needs to Visit In The Philippines.
Within Toronto, it’s not uncommon to stumble across a local artisan market or to discover a homegrown brand focused on sustainability. But Canada’s not the only country in the world to see more eco-friendly and ethical businesses popping up. Countries like the Philippines are experiencing the same boom, and there’s plenty more in this part of South East Asia than just pretty beaches and cheap eats.
Since I co-founded Cambio & Co., a Toronto-based retail company that partners with socially conscious Filipino brands and artisan communities, I’ve had the chance to travel across the Philippines and check out the country’s up-and-coming eco-ethical destinations. If you ever find yourself in this part of Asia, these are five spots you don’t want to miss!
1. The Enchanted Farm in Bulacan
It may seem unlikely, but this place is as enchanting as the name implies. The Enchanted Farm is like a Disney World for anyone with a passion for eco-friendly and ethical businesses. It’s home to a local farm community in Angat, Bulacan that has since been transformed into a hub for socially conscious startups working in partnership with Filipino farmers and mothers in the community.
My partner Jérôme and I during our previous visit to the Enchanted Farm.
The Enchanted Farm is home to brands like Plush & Play, an eco-ethical Filipino toy company that employs local nanays (mothers), Ambension Silk which creates organic silk accessories handwoven by women artisans, and all-natural peanut butter brand First Harvest made with peanuts from the farm. They’ve also partnered with youth, the children of the farmers, to provide free schooling and professional placements at various social enterprises so they themselves can become social entrepreneurs, giving hope to a generation that previously had little employment opportunities.
Chris, the founder of Ambension Silk, explains the silk weaving process to us during our day tour of the Enchanted Farm.
When you book your visit to the Enchanted Farm, you can do a day tour to visit the various startups on the farm, taste their products, attend interactive workshops with the founders, and do a little shopping too! And don’t forget to stop by the farm to table restaurant, which features delicious and healthy Filipino meals made with ingredients all grown at the farm. Definitely worth the stop!
2. The Echo Store
We came upon The Echo Store during one of our first trips in the Philippines. We had heard about a shop in Manila that featured all local and eco-ethical brands, and we definitely had to pay it a visit!
A photo of the Echo Store in Cebu, Philippines. Photo credit Echo Store Cebu.
The Echo Store has multiple locations around the Philippines, and each store is slightly different, choosing to feature brands local to that city. In the Manila store, you can find fair trade rice and coffee grown in the Philippines, as well as all-natural and non-toxic cleaning and household supplies. One of our favourite brands within the Echo Store is Messy Bessy, an eco-friendly household cleaner that provides employment to at-risk Filipino youth. There’s also a cute cafe attached to most Echo Store locations, where you can sit and enjoy fair trade, Filipino coffee and a delicious meal in a quaint setting.
3. The Easter Weaving School in Baguio
Baguio is a beautiful region in northern Luzon, and is well worth the long trip and winding ride up the mountains. Within Baguio, there’s a beautiful spot called The Easter Weaving School, a non-profit committed to preserving and promoting Filipino indigenous weaving traditions.
The Philippines has a rich history and culture of weaving and indigenous textiles, which young brands are trying to preserve and promote. Photo credit Habin Philippines.
At The Easter Weaving School, you can pick up some beautiful fair trade and handwoven goods made by artisans in the region. The selection is quite expansive, with two separate floors filled with goods. You can even see the school itself – a large room with looms set up where you can freely wander and watch the artisans as they actually produce their creations. There’s a ton to see at the Easter Weaving School, and anyone with an appreciation for fine craftsmanship should definitely make their way there!
4. Bohol Bee Farm in Bohol
Most people when they wind up in Bohol do the same tour – they see the tarsiers (the smallest primate in the world) at the sanctuary, visit the chocolate hills, and even see a random giant snake.
One of the delicious meal we had at the Bohol Bee Farm featuring all natural and organic ingredients, grown directly on the farm.
Lastly, if you’re lucky, you’ll have the chance to attend a MUNI Meetup during your visit. MUNI is a volunteer-run organization in the Philippines that organizes regular meetups and events.
A photo captured during the MUNI Meetup in Manila on Sustainable Dining. Photo credit MUNI.
They host talks and workshops on topics like minimalism, conscious shopping, zero waste living, and ethical design. They host an annual MUNI Market, which brings together some of the Philippines’ top ethical brands in one spot. It’s a great way to develop your network and catch an insider perspective on the Philippines’ local sustainability scene.
Some of the local products and brands featured during the MUNI Meetup on sustainable dining. Photo credit MUNI.
Stay up to date with one of their events by following along on their Facebook and catching the next one!