19 Sep2013


I saw the ad in today’s Inquirer and didn’t have much to do, so I moseyed on over to SM Megamall to take a quick look through the handicrafts fair. I like to attend these fairs to see what’s new or to get more of the tried and true. Over the years, I must say that overall the quality of goods on offer seems to have deteriorated, both in the craftmanship, design and quality of the end product. That’s a sweeping statement, and there were interesting exceptions, but overall, I think the death knell for Pinoy handicrafts has been tolled several times, and the best of the best weren’t really present at this show. Having said that, I did find some interesting things… first up, the miniature abaca fiber pine trees up top. Over the decades, I have collected upwards of 50 such trees on foreign trips and at local sales, all for the annual gingerbread creation at Chez Marketman. I have paid anywhere from $3 to say PHP250 for a single tree. Turns out they are MADE HERE, out of abaca fiber! So I ended up with 30 more trees today, ranging in price from PHP15-45 each! A total bargain, in my opinion… and now we will have more forests for the gingerbread. :)


Also for the holiday season, I scored a dozen pine cone ornaments of bone china, overruns or rejects from the local manufacturer of a rather hoity-toity French purveyor of porcelain. If they had more, I would have taken them as well. They are a bit heavy for a tree, but they might do nicely in a bowl laid out on a table during the holidays, or to anchor a place card at a Christmas dinner. I won’t reveal the very reasonable price I paid, as I might give some away as presents. Suffice it to say they cost a teeny tiny fraction of the retail price of the branded product when it gets to Europe or the U.S. :)


One of the stalls had 25 acacia batidors, and I bought all of them. We sell good Cebuano tablea at some Zubuchon outlets and I wanted to sell these alongside for folks (balikbayans often) who want to take a batidor back to their homes abroad. There were a few nice baskets on offer, but a Tesoro’s buyer who got there minutes before me (I got there just 30 minutes after the fair opened!) bought up most of the stuff I was interested in. My mother used to collect local baskets and it’s a real shame how much skill and craftmanship we seem to have lost in just a generation or two. The baskets on offer these days are horrific when compared to say 30-40 years ago! What also surprised me was the absence of any decent abaca placemat suppliers. I can normally count on these fairs to replace abaca placemats that are stained or worn (we use them almost daily) but there wasn’t a single supplier in the bunch…


An odd re-purposed purchase were these two kamagong arnis sticks. Instead of whacking opponents with them, I am going to try using them for rolling out ensaimada dough over the holidays. The smaller lighter sticks might work well with our tiny kitchen center island, extending over the edge of the table to make nice thin dough. At PHP175 each, in kamagong, I thought they were a bargain as well.


And finally, from Romblon, I got two medium sized mortars and pestles. At PHP400 each, well-priced. I want to use one for Asian spices and ingredients, and the other for western herbs and spices. The same vendor had pretty nice urns for dead folks’ ashes at PHP1,000 which I thought was also a steal. I considered getting one or two and using them as a flower vase or to store kitchen utensils until such time that they might be needed. But then again, I have always wanted to have a window in my urn, so I can gaze out at the world after I have been reduced to ashes. :)

If you are in the vicinity and into these kinds of things, pay the folks at the Handicrafts Fair a visit. I appreciate it when the Department of Trade and Industry organizes these things and so I tend to go if I can…

National Handicrafts Fair
Sept 19-23, 2012
SM Megatrade Halls 1,2 & 3



  1. Travel Guide says:

    I agree with the quality of products being released in the market are
    not as good as it was before. One of the things that may impact these kinds of
    things is the value of money. Many businessmen would downgrade
    their products materials to meet the buying power of the general public.

    Sep 19, 2013 | 3:20 pm


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  3. ami says:

    I guess the influx of cheap chinese goods have discouraged our local artisans from doing their thing. A shame really since our products have better quality.

    I am in love with the bone china pine cones. As a woman driver, I’ve contemplated buying an arnis stick to keep under the driver’s seat for protection. It should work given I don’t encounter a gun weilding carnapper.

    Sep 19, 2013 | 4:37 pm

  4. millet says:

    oh, i love anything bone china, and those pine cones look very elegant. early December last year i was in legazpi, and a cousin brought me to a town where they make christmas decor the whole year ’round. the variety and prices were amazing; needless to say, i spent more on excess baggage fees than on the items i bought, and i had a modern, all-pinoy theme last christmas.

    MM, i got my small rolling pin for P85 at saizen/daiso. those arnis sticks may not be very good for rolling dough as they’re tapered.

    Sep 19, 2013 | 8:51 pm

  5. MP says:

    Love the kamagong arnis!

    Sep 20, 2013 | 12:45 am

  6. Marketman says:

    millet, the arnis sticks are nice and straight… but let’s see if they do work or not… otherwise I’ll have to find an alternative use…

    Sep 20, 2013 | 7:49 am

  7. Andrea says:

    MM, you might want to check the 28th Negros Trade Fair on September 25 – 29 at the Glorietta Mall Activity Center.

    Sep 20, 2013 | 8:35 am

  8. Marketman says:

    Andrea, will definitely be at the Negros Trade Fair on Sept 27 when I get back from a trip — it’s one of my annual favorites!

    Sep 20, 2013 | 9:18 am

  9. udo gangl says:

    is there anything like this going on towards the end of this year ?
    im going to manila at about the 28/29th and will stay there for a good week !
    i once saw a complete artificial plastic christmas tree in pink (no way to upload a pic here) which was GORGEOUS and so “sick” that it was already a real “beauty”.
    i need one of these for over here :DDD


    ps. congrats on the arnis sticks – made out of kamagong for THAT price – thats nothing !!

    Sep 25, 2013 | 12:17 am


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