30 Homegrown Brands: Did You Know These Companies Are Filipino?
July 17, 2017
Retail stores, homegrown products, restaurants, hospitality groups and internationally recognized companies that make us proud to be Filipinos.
RUSTAN’S DEPARTMENT STORE
Founded in 1951 by spouses Bienvenido Tantoco and Gliceria Rustia Tantoco, Rustan’s Department Store has grown to become one of the largest retail family businesses in the country. Ran almost entirely by the Tantoco-Huang clan, the stores located at Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Makati and Ayala Town Center carry luxury goods for men, women, children and the home. Since Rustan’s first conception, the family has been able to branch out with several other companies, including a line of groceries, luxury retailer Store’s Specialist Inc., Rustan’s Beauty Source, and jewelry seller Silver Vault.
Photography by Jack Alindahao
Rustan’s Department stores is located at Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Ayala Town Center and Makati
TILDE HAND CRAFT CAFÉ
Located at the thriving street of Poblacion, Tilde Hand Craft Café was conceived out of sheer luck. “I was having my hair colored at the parlor with no name,” shares owner Ginny de Guzman. “When you’re at the parlor, you tend to unload to your hairdresser. She said there was a bakery down the street that has been closed for four months.” Ginny, along with partners Neal Oshima and Chiqui Lara, took that as a sign and opened their café. With a eatery at BGC already running, the partners were interested to go back to the core of home cooking. Or as Ginny likes to put it, “It should be something like my grandmother likes to make.”
Equipped with a large bakery and kitchen from the previous tenant, Tilde’s goal is to bring back handcrafted flavors. “Nowadays, people don’t challenge themselves to learn a craft because everything is easily gratified or googled. Nobody takes the time to learn things and wait. That’s why we’re bringing back handcrafted (goods),” Ginny declares about her restaurant’s objectives with a strong belief that things made with love and intelligence is always better. All the food served in the restaurant is created in-house, including a series of items sold on the shelves. They take time pickling, fermenting, brewing their own beer, and even creating their own granola for people to buy.
A specialty of the café is the Halayan mango jam, a spread made by reducing the fruit for maximum flavor. This is specially made during the summer months. Breads like sourdough and kamote pandesal are freshly baked daily. It is suggested to eat the sweet potato bread with one of the many spreads offered at Tilde. A recommendation is the malunggay spread, which consists of mixed cheeses like in-house made ricotta, cheddar and mozzarella mixed together with the drumstick tree leaf. Quiet time on sleepy afternoons is best enjoyed with the eatery’s Single Original 100% Arabica coffee. Their Mango Pavlova cake made of meringue is topped with tropical fruit—the ideal companion of a hot cup of Filipino brew. Even the cookies have a Pinoy twist, with such flavors such as salabat with coco nibs, champorado and linga (sesame seed).
Tilde Hand Craft Café is located at 5417 Matilde, Poblacion, Makati City, phone (+632) 771 2764
Photography by Eejay Leung
Founded by entrepreneur Rose Anne Bautista, Fino Leatherware was originally conceived as a bazar boutique selling leather goods. Today, the company has multiple branches across the country and is now a popular Filipino commodity. The brand was even used as the supplier for official gifts to international delegates like former US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during their visit to Manila for the ASEAN congress in 2016.
Fino Leatherware is located at Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Glorietta 3, Power Plant Mall, Robinsons Magnolia, Trinoma and The Podium
Photography by Floyd Jhocson
Sisters Bianca Zobel-Warns and Natalia Zobel teamed up with close friend Maria Parsons to create Lanai Manila, a one-stop lifestyle-shopping destination in the heart of Makati. Offering numerous floors filled with home items, specially selected fashion finds and even a flower shop (a nod to Maria’s mother, society florist Toni Serrano), Lanai aims to provide everything one may need for a well-curated life. Items at the store feel like an extension of the owner’s personal styles, boho sensibilities and easygoing attitudes. Potted plants stand tall in a shop that includes items such as printed dresses and kaftans, fringe earrings, designer sunglasses, eclectic home decoration and furniture items inspired by the haciendas south of the country.
Lanai is located at C-4 The Alley at Karrivin, Chino Roces Ave, Makati City
Photography by Mark Nicdao
Thirty seven years ago, Zelda Kienle started Philux, when she and husband Max decided to open furniture store out of their garage. Almost four decades later, their daughters Stephanie and Jessica now play important roles running the fully Filipino-made furniture company. Consistently looking for ways to innovate, Philux has participated in numerous collaborations with Filipino artists and furniture lovers for bespoke pieces and collections. Recently, they also launched their new customization service entitled Philux Fix.
Philux is located at Power Plant Mall, SM Mega Mall, LRI Design Plaza and Shangri-La at the Fort
Photography courtesy of Philux
JUL B. DIZON
The legacy of acclaimed jewelry designer Jul B. Dizon lives on through her daughters Candy and Janina and daughters-in-law Ginny and Lucille, who now run the company. Known for extravagant collector’s pieces, the brand often pays homage to its Filipino roots through numerous collections and partnerships. Every year, the Dizons host an anniversary shopping party at Shangri-La’s Grand Ballroom to showcase their latest collections to patrons and friends. It has become an important event during the year’s social calendar, not only to celebrate Philippine artistry, but also a Filipino legacy.
Jul B. Dizon is located at The Peninsula Manila and EDSA Shangri-La
Photography by Yukie Sarto
LOBO FILIPINO TAVERN
Kian Kazemi opened LOBO Filipino Tavern to pay homage to his Filipino roots. The half-Persian, half-Filipino entrepreneur is self-made, opening the Persia Grill chain of restaurants while still in college at the University of St. Benilde. Located at the trendy Poblacion district, LOBO is designed as a homey, food refuge serving Filipino comfort food with a bit of a Persian twist. Repurposed furniture decorates the location, including a bar made of railroad wood, embellished with Capiz. When dining at LOBO, Kian recommends his favorite dishes Kinilaw na Isda. The lamb adobo is a new take on the Filipino dish, an obvious ode to both of his heritages. More traditional dishes include a spicy bulalo with a large piece of bone barrow for diners to enjoy. Fresh on the menu this month is the lengua tacos, bursting with flavor from the exotic meat made of cow tongue.
LOBO Filipino Tavern is located at 4898 Durban, Poblacion, Makati City
Photography by Hub Pacheco
THE WORKS OF BEN CAB, NAPOLEON ABUEVA AND ARTURO LUZ
When thinking of Filipino art, Ben Cab, Arturo Luz and Napoleon Abueva are top of mind. Benedicto Cabrera, popularly known as BenCab, was born in Malabon. After marrying English journalist Caroline Kennedy, he moved to London, where he began his career. His stint in the English capital during the early 70s proved to be successful, raising his career profile to new heights. He began exhibiting his works in major cities around the world, including New York City and Macau. Former President Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law was a turning point in BenCab’s career. He found interest incorporating social relevant topics such as freedom and repression into his paintings. Within the next decades, BenCab continued his successful streak in the art world, winning more accolades and becoming influential among his peers. In 2006, the Philippine government named him one of the Philippine’s National Artists.
Bohol native Napoleon V. Abueva made a splash in the sculpting scene when he introduced his signature buoyant-style in 1951. He uses a variety of material when creating pieces that are usually in the representational or modern abstract schools of art. Abueva has been noted for his use of stainless steel, cement, bronze, iron, and a variety of woods such as acacia, langka wood, ipil, kamagong, palm wood and bamboo. At 46 years old, he became the youngest National Artist when he was bestowed the honor in 1976. He has shown exhibits around the globe, including at the Philippine Center and the United Nations both in New York City. Locally, Napoleon is best remembered for his work at the UP Facility Center at the Sunburst sculpture at the lobby of the Peninsula Manila.
Philippine National Artist Arturo Luz is best remembered for his minimalist illustrations belonging to his founding school of art, Neo-realism. The artist found influence in the works of Paul Klee, creating abstract painting done in minimalist lines. Luz has practiced all forms of art including sculpting, printmaking and designing. At 88 years old, Luz is considered one of the most celebrated figures in Philippine art, regularly showing in establishments such as the Ayala Museum and other galleries lucky enough to acquire his rare pieces.
Photography courtesy of the Yuchengco Museum (BenCab) and The Peninsula Manila
Local favorite dish lechon is served a variety of ways around the country. A staple in family gatherings, birthday celebrations and fiestas, the Filipino suckling pig defies any class and background as a preferred dish to feast on. Best prepared over an open fire and mixed with a variety of spices (depending on the establishment), lechon has grown more complex over the years. Best prepared by the Cebuanos, numerous eateries across the Queen’s City include CnT Lechon, Rico’s Lechon and Zubucon Lechon. In Manila, Lydia’s and Tatang’s are recommended when ordering a whole pig. For pigs with a gourmet twist, try Manila Hotel’s Café Ilang Ilang. The establishment owned by Dedet de la Fuente-Santos serves the sinful dish stuffed with truffle rice. Dusit Hotel’s The Pantry Buffet is an option for unlimited lechon binging. It even acts as the centerpiece of the entire food spread, located at the center of the room.
Photography by Chino R. Hernandez
Founded in 1945 by Atty. Nestor and Salud S. Tesoro, Tesoro’s aims to provide handcrafted Filipino treasures to whoever walks into the doors of their department stores. Now ran by the 3rd generation of the Tesoro clan, the company sells a variety of items including Filipino-inspired children’s costumes, hand embroidered women’s apparel, the classic barong tagalog, weaves goods, fashion accessories, woodwork, ethnic art, and home items. They also carry The Great Women brand where proceeds go to help indigenous people of the Philippines.
For more information visit <tesoros.ph>
Photography courtesy of <tesoros.ph>
CEBU BEST MANGO CHOCOLATE
Every Filipino has given dried mangoes as a pasalubong at one time or another. However, what Filipinos are not familiar with are mother and daughter tandem Elizabeth and Angel Ong, who pioneered the product in Cebu in the 70s. They would often give their family and friends glass jars filled with dried mangoes to take home. However, the shelf life was not long. Elizabeth took it upon herself to find a recipe that would extend its expiration date. It was a successful experiment, and we now have the best dried mangoes available. They recently launched their new brand, Cebu Best Mango Chocolate in 2011, coating the Cebu dried mango in dark chocolate. It was an instant hit and became the first of its kind. Later, it was selected as a gift to the Pope during his papal visit in 2015. Cebu Best comes in box sizes of 24, 12 and seven pieces of the chocolate covered dried mango that still follows the family recipe. They are also Halal certified by the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP).
For orders and more information visit <cebubestmango.com>
In 1850, Chinese immigrant Lim Tua Co arrived in Manila and set up a distillery that would later be known as Destilleria Limtuaco. With blessings from the emperor, Lim Tua Co began shop at the Chinese quarters of Binondo. He sold a medicine wine from a recipe passed down through his family. Vino de China, as it was called, is a bittersweet brew made of Chinese herbs. As the young merchant’s concoction became popular throughout the country, he rose to be an influential businessman. He took the opportunity to expand his company further before his death. Today, a fifth generation family member Olivia Limpe-Aw is running the company. Under Limpe-Aw, the company has flourished into the 21st century. The now 160-year-old business holds a selection of popular distilled spirits and wines like Vigan Basi, Toska vodka, El Hombre tequila, San Juan lambanog, White Castle whisky, Old Captain rum and Napoleon brandy.
The popularity of Locavore began in 2016 when they first opened their flagship restaurant in Kapitolyo. Simply serving Filipino comfort food, Locavore flourished among yuppie diners looking to eat sinful dishes with a cold bottle of beer. The restaurant can credit their success for the “sizzling sinigang phase” two years ago when millennials continuously uploaded the dish on their social media accounts. Other favorites include the Fried Oyster Mangga Bagoong. The appetizer consists of local fried oysters topped with a labuyo aioili dressing and mango salsa.
Locavore is located at 10 Brixton St. Pasig and Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Photography by Floyd Jhocson
ANN ONG JEWELRY
Acclaimed designer Ann Ong creates one-of-a-kind, handcrafted jewelry and fashion accessories and clutch bags. Celebrated in the fashion world, Ong has won the prestigious Katha Award three consecutive times. Recently opening an Ann Ong Jewelry store in the country at Shangri-La a the Fort, patrons can now visit the hotel boutique for their fashion needs. The MEGA Pinoy Pride awardee has presented her work in all corners of the world, including in such events as the Hong Kong Jewelry Fair and Djakarta Fashion Week.
Photography by Ron Mendoza
The success of Chinese-Filipino entrepreneur Ben Chan’s internationally recognized brand Bench was the product of hard work and groundbreaking marketing. Founded in 1987, Ben Chan began the company as a small store selling men’s T-shirts. As his business began to take off, Chan needed to innovate. The businessman began bold campaigns featuring celebrity endorsers to set the brand apart. Iconic photographs of 90s movie and music sweethearts filled Philippine billboards and advertisement spaces, helping the company sweep the country as a leading retail store. Chan soon went global, opening branches in major cities around the world. Bench now sells more than men’s T-shirts, and has expanded into all-around apparel, underwear, fragrances and beauty products. Chan also sits as owner and chairman of the Suyen Corporation, which carries international brands like Paul Smith and Cotton On in the Philippines.
For more information visit <bench.com.ph>
Photography by Patrick Diokno
Emperador became the first Filipino brandy when founded in 1990 by business tycoon Andrew Tan. Considered to be the best selling brandy in the world, bottles of the oak colored beverage are distributed in over 40 countries. Recently, Emperador Inc. acquired Spain’s Fundador and all its vineyards and breweries in Europe. Under Emperador Distilleries Inc., Tan also holds numerous local and international brands for distribution: The Dalmore, Jura Scotch, Fundador, Smirnoff Mule, The Bar, Andy Player Whiskey and Emperador, and all its varieties.
Spirits from Emperador Inc. are available in leading bookstores
SAN MIGUEL BEER
Established in 1890, San Miguel was originally known as La Fabrica de Cerceza San Miguel when it opened its first brewery. As of 2015, the company is responsible for 5.1% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Known as the first beer brewery in South East Asia, San Miguel quickly became a pioneer in the industry. By 1914, the company began exporting to numerous countries around the world. It continues its reputation as being part of the Top 10 best selling beer brands ever. With factories manufacturing bottles in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong, San Miguel beer is considered a top Filipino brand.
San Miguel Beer is available in leading groceries
Seventy five years ago, Jose Ramos and his wife Socorro Cancio-Ramos opened the first National Bookstore in Escolta. It was a little store that would face tragedy and wreckage over the years. The Ramoses had to the rebuild it twice: when it was burnt down during the Japanese occupation and when it was devastated by a typhoon a few years later. Still, the Ramos family’s dedication to running their store and spreading the value of education were instilled in them. They persevered and built a business from scratch. Today, National Bookstore is considered the leading bookstore in the Philippines with over 3,000 employees and over 200 branches across the nation. The store is now considered a beloved establishment, playing a role in the lives of as many as four generations of Filipinos.
For more information visit <nationalbookstore.com>
Photography courtesy of National Bookstore
Industrialist Andrew Soriano and a group of businessmen founded Philippine Airlines in 1941. Casually known as PAL, the airline’s first voyage was on a five-seater plane that flew from Makati to Baguio. When the government took notice, they decided to invest in the company, allowing its nationalization. After the war, the airline was the first in Asia to fly across the Pacific, transporting American soldiers back home. In modern times, Philippine Airlines provides services to millions of customers around the world, and still innovates by adding destinations to their roster every year. PAL takes pride in its premium airbuses and travel services that reflect Filipino hospitality in the sky. Their recent campaign, “The Heart of the Filipino,” says it all. In addition, their iconic arroz caldo is a highlight for travelers to binge on while waiting for flights in their Mabuhay Lounge.
For more information visit <philippineairlines.com>’
HOMEGROWN HOTELS MANILA HOTEL, DISCOVERY AND HENNAN
Filipinos are known for their hospitality. It is no surprise that these three homegrown hotels have flourished in terms of quality and reputation. Manila Hotel has remained a landmark in Philippine history. When Judge William Howard Taft issued city planner Daniel Hudston to draft a plan for Manila in 1898, Manila Hotel was to be the center of the long boulevard. Completed by Williams Parsons, the hotel opened on America’s Independence Day in 1912. The hotel then included 149 high-ceiling, luxury bedrooms facing Manila Bay. It remains at its original location filled with nostalgia and old-world charm.
The Tiu family founded the Discovery Leisure Company Inc. (TDLC), which operates the award-winning Discovery hotels around the country. This includes the first branch Discovery Suites in Ortigas, the bed and breakfast Discover Country Suites with a sprawling view of Taal Lake, the popular Discovery Suites in Boracay’s premium Station 1, and Club Paradise Palawan in Coron. The newest hotel in their roster is Makati district’s Discovery Primea, which also has premium apartment spaces.
In Station 2 in Boracay lays the Henann Regency, the sprawling resort owned by the Chusuey Family. When Chairman Henry Chusuey went to Boracay for the first time almost 20 years ago, he fell in love with the white sand beaches and dreamt of a place his family and friends could enjoy and visit. This led to the opening of the Boracay Regency Beach Resort with 43 suites. Today, the Chusuey’s operate numerous hotels on the island under the Henann Group of Resorts (a clever mix of Henry and his wife Ann’s names). Their latest property is Henann Prime Beach located at the luxurious Station 1 side of the island. In addition, the Chusuey’s have expanded to other beach locations in the Philippines. Henann Alona Beach in Bohol is now their largest property. Soon, the family plans to open a resort in Coron Palawan’s Malcapuya Island. Set to be their grandest, the newest development will be an all-villa resort with 13.5 hectares of land in total.
WHAT KIDS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FILIPINO FOOD
It’s a children’s book that will make adults do a number of things while they’re reading it—nod in approval, smile at a memory, or even laugh out loud. What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food, Mama Sita Centennial edition, is the latest in a series of Adarna books that will make Filipinos of any age realize how truly rich and interesting their culinary culture is, and how proud they should be of their multi-ethnic heritage.
Culinary historian and author Felice Sta. Maria uses her depth and breadth of knowledge on Filipino food culture to make the subject more digestible and palatable for kids and adults, too. It’s light reading but heavy on information –peppered with facts, folklore, trivia and superstitious beliefs. It explores practices in the kitchen, at the table, and anywhere else where food is cooked, served and enjoyed.
Sta. Maria points to ingredients or sources of food derived from the land, air and sea, with colorful illustrations brought to life by young artist Mika Bacani. Sta Maria shares, “I want to emphasize the fundamental inter-relationship between environs and food culture. We need to know that land, water and air must be kept safe so our food will be kept safe, and public health safe.”
One chapter describes a Filipino heritage kitchen, where older readers will recognize the banggera, bantalan, garapinyera, gilingan and kudkuran, to name a few. Another features typical cooking methods employed in and out of the kitchen such as grilling (ihaw-ihaw), sautéeing (guisado), boiling (nilaga), and frying (prito), followed by a fun feature on street food and panaderia favorites. There’s also the Chinoy meryenda spread that tackles all kinds of pancit and other snacks such as siomai, siopao, kikiam, hopia and taho.
What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food is like a mini encyclopedia of everything Pinoys love to cook and eat, making it the perfect gift for anyone interested in Philippine culinary culture.
Available in leading bookstores
Chef Jordy Navarro’s Toyo Eatery has become a top spot for gourmet Filipino food in Metro Manila. The culinary master behind Blackbird opened his first restaurant in 2016 to rave reviews and full houses, yet it has not slowed down. Recommended dishes at Toyo Eatery include Navarro’s famous Garden Salad, inspired by the classic song Bahay Kubo. Made to look like a pot of soil, beneath ground peanuts, is a collection of all the vegetables mentioned in the children’s song. The tender pork barbeque consists of three types of pork cuts in a single stick. It is a combination of pigi, casim and liempo, and is served with coconut cider vinegar. Protein is best paired with the eatery’s signature silog rice, which is fluffy in texture and served with egg yoke and a generous serving of sinful chicharon. Degustation options are available for either a three or 10-set tasting menu of Toy Eatery favorites.
Toyo Eatery is located at C-4 The Alley at Karrivin, Chino Roces Ave, Makati City
Manila Creamery founders Jason Go and Paolo Reyes didn’t have an affinity for gelatos. But after stumbling upon a book on how to make the Italian staple, the two childhood friends began experimenting with Filipino flavors. Their journey took them to Italy, where they studied the art of gelato making. Two year later, they opened their first store in UP Town Center and continue to expand this year. The company focuses on creating gelato with Filipino twists, maximizing locally produced ingredients for all their flavors. Their best selling Mangga’t Suman bursts with a sweet, milky flavor infused with fresh mangos, sticky rice and latik sauce. Other flavors in their repertoire include the Blueberry Maja Blanca and Brazo de Leche. More adventurous diners may want to try the Tinutong Rice and Ricotta with Orange flavors. Strangely, the burnt rice flavor is quite appealing and different for gelato fans. Recently, they launched their line of Filipino milkshakes, which includes a Turon gelato shake made of saba and langka gelato, turon flakes and pandan.
Manila Creamery is located at UP Town Center and Industrie Food Loft, City Golf
MAX FRIED CHICKEN
After World War II in 1945, teacher Maximo Gimenez made friends with an American G.I. who would visit his home consistently. His nice Ruby would cook her recipe of fried chicken for them to enjoy during their visits. The solider soon began to tell others that the chicken at Maximo’s was quite different from what he had ever tasted. With some persuasion, Maximo opened his home and the first Max Fried Chicken restaurant was born. Eventually garnerning the nickname “The House Fried Chicken Built”, the restaurant is known to be the ideal Filipino-style chicken. It was not planned that a family recipe would be much success accidentally.
THE RESTAURANTS OF MARGARITA FORES
A public accountant by profession, Margarita Fores took a plunge in 1987 when she moved to Italy to follow her passion in learning the culinary arts. The young lady brought her classic training back to Manila, where she then developed a catering company called Cibo di M. It served her take on modernized Italian food for Filipino taste buds. The venture proved to be successful and Margarita was encouraged to open her first restaurant in 1997. Dropping the last two syllables, she simply called is Cibo, and the rest is history. Margarita Fores followed the expansion of her food empire by opening other concept restaurants across the country like farm-to-table establishment Grace Park and the refined Italian-dining restaurant Lusso in Greenbelt 5. She also handles the menu for the in-house signature restaurant Alta at Ascott in Bonifacio Global City. To top off 2016, the year Cibo celebrated its 20th anniversary, Margarita was awarded the Best Female Chef of the year by the prestigious 50 Best Restaurants organization.
Photography by Mark Nicdao
Founded by French pearl farmer Jacques Branellec and Filipino businessman Manuel Cojuanco in 1979, Jewelmer Joaillerie has become one of the top luxury exports from the Philippines. Founded on the advocacy of “nurturing nature,” Jewelmer’s pearl farms carefully cultivate the iconic golden pearl while taking care of the ocean that makes them. Advanced technology is maximized on the islands, while hundreds of loyal employees have been working for the company generation after generation. Their specially trained staff includes marine biologists, engineers and scientists to ensure the ocean’s safety during the pearl making process. Rare, beautiful and often recognized as the country’s national jewel, Filipino south sea pearls have found international recognition because of the company.
Jewelmer Joaillerie is located at SM Mega Mall, The Peninsula Manila, Glorietta 4, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Trinoma, Shangri-La at The Fort, and Greenbelt 2
READ OTHER LIFESTYLE ASIA LISTS…