The Year of the Metal Ox, the Day of Hearts, and Buy Local, Go Lokal

Published January 17, 2021, 12:45 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


Philip Cu Unjieng

In less than 30 days, we’ll be celebrating Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. In 2021, they’re just a few days apart; and we can only hope that for most of us, there’ll actually be something to celebrate and be festive about. If there’s something I’d like to impart through my column today, as we scramble and think about gifts we’ll give to our loved ones for these two upcoming occasions, it’s two things.

One, I’d like us to expand our notion of who these loved ones, deserving of gifts, are. Beyond the family, and that important “other” let’s spare a thought this year for those who have helped us over the last 11 months endure the pandemic that affected us all during the very unusual year of 2020. Whether it’s the regular, weekly Zoom group who became steadfast friends, the ones we’d share all our precious K-Drama moments with, or the ones that assisted us on our plant-based journey as plantitas or plantitos; let’s recognize that these individuals were crucial in helping us lessen the stress and anxiety of the year that was. They all deserve a big Thank You from the bottom of our hearts.

Second, let’s please make sure that at least one of the gifts we’ll be giving out (if not all) are sourced locally. Consumer spending drives our economy, the MSME’s account for 50% of our GDP, and up to 70% of total employment. The majority of these businesses were hard hit by the pandemic, and if ever there was a time that they needed our unwavering support, it’s now!

The creative Valentine’s Day promotional gift box of the DTI-accredited Soap Farm.

The Buy Local, Go Lokal initiative of our DTI is one surefire way to identify these entrepreneurs, local farmers and fruit growers; who are essentially the backbone of our economy. Collectively, they play such a big role in a developing country such as ours, to achieve some form of national recovery. We’re traditionally so brand-conscious, and such suckers for imported brands and goods. But that only benefits the importers and imported goods retailers. Let’s really think Lokal this year, and help these struggling businesses, and contribute to the beneficial trickle down effect this creates in our economy. Their supply chains have been disrupted, and they’ve suffered drops in demand, so let’s give them a hand in staging some kind of comeback.

DTI’s Go Lokal is a wonderful market access platform for market incubation and brand testing. Already, it has assisted over 786 MSMEs, as their goods are spread out over 125 stores. You can find them in most major malls, or head to the DTI website. Just as an example, I offer up this photo of the specially packaged box of soaps from Soap Farm. They have a box of chocolates, a box of cupcakes, the bouquet of roses with merengue (see photo), and there’s artisanal soap specially packaged for the Lunar New Year.

The bedside Solihiya Benjamin lamp of Venzon Lighting, another DTI-accredited enterprise.

Venzon Lighting & Objects is another Lokal design manufacturer I admire. They have a Benjamin bedside mood lamp that uses a pretty & nostalgic Solihiya weave pattern to help diffuse the illumination. It’s a true conversation piece that would make an ideal gift-giving idea. Such a shame if the admirable efforts of these intrepid entrepreneurs aren’t recognized, or rewarded, and they begin closing shop.

And mind you, I’m not saying one should go exclusively Lokal – I’m well aware that for a segment of our consuming public, that’s just not on. But let’s just make sure we do our bit in helping these local enterprises, and show them the love they deserve.

The Crying of Multiple Wolves

In a flash, a day after the US Capitol was invaded, I spied this on social media feeds (from IG feeds, no copyright infringement intended).

Meanwhile, over in the US of A, January 20th will hopefully have us witnessing the Biden inauguration – happening with a minimum of stupid antics and/or violence coming from the radical right. There’s a lot of irony in that statement alone; how it’s the extreme right-wing faction now being seen as the criminal, law-breaking element of American society. But thanks to the outgoing ginger-haired POTUS, that is the hard-to-believe truth.

Remember Aesop’s fable about the Boy Who Cried Wolf? Thanks to Trump, we can now say that fable is obsolete. For in Trump’s case, he can cry about multiple wolves again and again; and enough gun-toting, rabid followers will consider the cries/lies as Gospel truth, swear by it, and follow him (as he actually leads from the rear) to Kingdom Come. That’s basically what happened the other week, inciting, exhorting, with inflammatory words, seconded by his enablers – and then they watch from the comfort of their tent, sipping cocktails and munching on crudités, while their followers march to, and invade, the Capitol, breaking the law and even causing the deaths of five persons.

It’s truly a shameful and brazen display of power, arrogance, vanity, and an unhinged mind. But the sad inescapable fact is that so many will still swear fealty to this deranged fool. He is at heart a product of reality-TV, and even if the series has been cancelled, rather than exiting with grace, decorum, or dignity, he’s ready to keep the spotlight on himself, and to put his followers in danger – and they’re so ready to heed his every word. Sad!

So for the first time since 1869, we stand to witness a US president’s inauguration with only the president-elect in attendance – and watch a president be impeached for the second time in his single term.