A Touch of Filipino Christmas Around the World
Ring in the Christmas season—the Filipino way—with a festive array of proudly Philippine-made and globally-lauded holiday decor from these FAME+ brands
by Danna Peña
Perhaps no other nation welcomes the holidays more than Filipinos, who begin preparing and putting up decorations as early as the onset of the ‘ber months, celebrating the season with a bang and much gusto. A country known for its abundance of natural materials and skilled artisans, it likewise offers some of the most creative, whimsical, and thoughtful holiday decor from its homegrown exporters and manufacturers, who’ve also made their mark on the global stage and captured patrons from around the world.
After all, Filipinos are known to make with their hands—and heart—and it shows even more in their Christmas decor. If you’re looking to source unique holiday decor from some of the Philippines’ best, below are key decorative pieces from select FAME+ brands and their recommended holiday must-haves that’ll surely bring joy and good tidings to any part of the world. These FAME+ brands also share the story behind their works, the unique Filipino holiday spirit, and ultimately, what it is that makes manufacturers like them and the artisans and craftsmen they work with truly passionate about their craft.
MINIATURE DECOR TO MAKE EVERY NOOK FESTIVE
“They say that people who decorate for Christmas early are happier,” begins Jacqueline Angel of Philippine Treasures, an award-winning brand established in 1972, and has since been known for its decorations and ornaments made from indigenous and natural materials. Recommended pieces for local and foreign buyers are the Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, and ornaments that will fit any home. “The simple presence of Christmas decorations is an affirmation of joy and celebration. Holiday decorating ignites the child in each of us, eliciting positive emotions,” she notes.
And it’s more than just the display of decorations, but an important family tradition for Filipinos. “Christmas decorating is a yearly ritual that brings comfort and consolation from the mere act of doing it,” Angel says. “It makes it a tradition you would love to do yearly.”
“Christmas for the Filipino comes from the heart, faith, and belief,” shares Herminia Partible of Natureline Enterprises. Launched in 2016, the brand handcrafts its products using abaca, sabutan, pandan fibers, and other natural and locally sourced materials. “Being the only Christian Catholic nation in Southeast Asia, the Philippines celebrates Christmas with love, laughter, and life,” she adds.
Filipinos have a penchant for celebrating with family and community, and the display of decor is one example of this. “Christmas decorations are expressions of happiness, joy, and love. Knowing that the holiday calls for a celebration, it is a natural inclination to show and share the joy with others,” explains Partible. “Christmas is the only time of the year that one can decorate without limitations. It has therefore become a tradition that the whole world welcomes this great event with all that one can give and share—through the wonderful sight of colors and glitters, shapes, and sizes,” she says.
Natureline Enterprises’ popular abaca brush trees are well-loved from all over the world. “It comes in all sizes and almost all colors have always been in the Christmas picture,” reveals Partible. “We had been producing this collection for 35 years and its popularity has never waned nor do we see a decline in its demand. The material is sustainable and our production responsible—as we always bear in mind to stand for this advocacy.”
Philippine Treasures, Inc. offers a selection of tabletop Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands that will spruce up your holiday decor. These lightweight options are perfect for adding sparkle and color to empty spaces, specifically on countertops, walls, and doors
Besides abaca brush trees (leftmost photo), Natureline Enterprises also offers miniature trees made of materials like banaba (middle photo) and abaca (rightmost photo)
GOLDEN TOUCHES THAT ARE SHINING, SHIMMERING, SPLENDID
“Filipinos are mostly religious, and Christmas is not celebrated in a purely materialistic manner—instead, they put great importance on the spiritual meaning of it,” says Milagros Lacson of MIL Export, which specializes in finely handcrafted seasonal decoration and houseware made of tin, metal, and wire. “Filipinos can celebrate the season happily, with smiling faces, with simple sharing despite economic conditions.”
“It is important to set up decorations during Christmas because it brings excitement and joy,” she points out. “It reminds us of happy childhood memories. Filipinos are also naturally hospitable, and it is important for us to display a happy, festive environment for family and friends who visit our homes.”
For MIL Export, its glitter star ornaments made of wire, which come in different variations and shapes, are truly top-notch. It’s a universal symbol that has resonated with local and foreign buyers alike. “Star decors are important symbols for Christmas because the star is a heavenly sign of a fulfilled prophecy and it represents hope,” adds Lacson.
As the season of Christmas is laced with memories of childhood, decorations that trigger a childlike joy are wonderful adornments to have at home. Offering specially handcrafted Christmas decor and gift item collections, Klassy Collections and Designs Co. (KCDC) provides décor staples that are both visually appealing and nostalgia-inducing.
With products created from indigenous materials most commonly found in the Philippines—such as the abaca and buri fiber—Klassy Collections’ delivers a fresh take on holiday-appropriate and timeless-looking home décor, such as the Santa Claus and the Nativity scene. The global market, especially those from countries with winter seasons, will surely find joy in the furry, fuzzy Christmas animals included in the brand’s repertoire.
These shiny and shimmering decors from MIL Export perfectly fit any kind of Christmas theme. Besides star-shaped decorative pieces, the brand also offers angels, ribbons, and Christmas balls.
Making use of various color combinations and textures that showcase a timeless feel, Klassy Collections offers figurines that appeal to both the Filipino and global audiences alike. These include a Canvas Vintage Santa (top left), Paper Mache Santa Ornament (bottom right), Brush Tree In Pastel Rainbow (bottom center), Canvas Nativity (bottom left), Family Bear On Sleigh (top center), and Noah’s Ark (top right)
MEANINGFUL SYMBOLS THAT EMBODY THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
“The Filipino Christmas spirit is unique in the sense that it embodies the faith and hope of every Filipino Christian of the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ, manifested in the different traditions that emanated from the Spanish era 500 years ago, such as the misa de gallo, the parols, the belens, and decorating our homes with festive garlands and Christmas trees,” begins Romeo Jr. Balderrama of Sarilinlikha Novelties.
“I think setting up Christmas decor is an important tradition because it gives an ambience of love, hope, faith, and abundance to our homes,” he adds. “These are the gifts from our Lord that we try to emulate within our family, home, offices, and community during the Christmas season, lest we forget the ‘Christ’ in Christmas, which is the most important figure during the season.”
Sarilinlikha Novelties gets its name from two Filipino words—sarili and likha, which together mean “original” or “my own creations.” And its holiday ornaments’ truly Filipino make is what the brand stays loyal to, and proudly offers the global market. “We started about 30 years ago with Christmas decor using palo china and its wood shavings. We then ventured into abaca, tins, resin and capiz materials for our holiday decor,” says Balderrama, citing just some of the many natural materials the Philippines is known for.
“In the last two years, we focused on our velvety ball ornaments, with beads and cords in opulent designs signifying the beauty, luxury and abundance of the Christmas season,” he adds. “These balls are made by a group of artisanal women, composed of mothers and out of school youths of Antipolo and Tanay villages in the province of Rizal.”
“The joyful act of putting up decorations is our subconscious mindset of attracting better days to come,” points out Albert of De Rivera of Alriver, a brand known for its high-quality gift decorations for Christmas, spring, and Halloween. “There is so much anticipation for the coming of the first day of September. For some cultures, Christmas is just one day but in the Philippines, Christmas is four months! There is simply nothing like our passion for the holidays! The Filipinos’ love for gatherings—as well as taking photos—has elevated the effort and dedication when it comes to Christmas decorating.”
Alriver takes pride in its beautifully crafted Nativity sets, Holy Family sets, and Christmas angel figurines, which have gained an audience locally and abroad. “These best-sellers are all handmade with love and produced to represent Alriver’s superb design artistry and quality with the use of resin, fabrics, metal, and wood,” says De Rivera.
With the current situation, all the more Filipinos are called to celebrate the holidays in good tidings with their families. “With everything we have been through with the pandemic, we saw the increase in demand for quality holiday decorations to commemorate the idea of survival and to celebrate the beauty of life that we are blessed with,” De Rivera reveals. “The pandemic also deepened the value and tradition of Christmas decorating; it heightened the idea of surrounding oneself with beautiful things to bring out the feeling of hope, the spirit, and the optimism that we must keep.”
Adorned with beads and cords, these velvet Christmas balls from Sarilinlikha Novelties signify the beauty, luxury, and abundance of the Christmas season. They are also made by a group of artisan women, composed of mothers and out-of-school youths from Antipolo and Tanay villages in the province of Rizal.
Alriver creates soulful and meticulously handcrafted Christmas decor that reminds us why we’re celebrating Christmas in the first place: the birth of Jesus Christ.