Weekend Iloilo fair showcases local products, culture, stories

“Globalization has changed the way we work and live. We have become materialistic individuals, fond of sophisticated products made with raw materials that are cheaply bought from agricultural countries,” shared Romellaine Arsenio, Creative Communications Manager of Youth First Initiative Philippines.

Arsenio stressed that natural resources are lumped into factories and made by individuals whose work routine system are mechanized like robots – assembling one part of the same product every day.

But in the mountains of Barotac Viejo in Iloilo province, a community of fair-skinned women are crafting necklaces and bracelets the way their parents or elders taught them. They are wearing accessories that reflect their environment, their community, culture and way of life.

The products that they produce impart a story of their creativity and craftsmanship which shaped their way of life.

The issues brought about by globalization is what the Youth First Initiative Philippines intend to address by organizing Produkto Lokal Weekend Fair in Iloilo City on February 27 to 28, 2016 at the Mango Tree Restaurant in Mandurriao District.

The fair will provide space and time for local manufacturers to display and sell unique products that highlight their ingenuity from 2 pm to 8 pm at the cozy outdoor garden of one of Iloilo’s preferred dining venues.

Meet Khon, Earvin, Elsed, Noel and more

The Weekend Fair will not only present the creations of individuals in the form of products from their artistry and innovation. It will also bring into the event the stories that highlight their ideas, imagination, and the inspiration behind the development of the products.

Potential clients and end-users will not only get a good product but will also learn from their stories by meeting the people behind the product like Noel, Elsed, Earvin and Khon, among others.

Noel, for instance, muses in Guimaras Island and writes stories in Hiligaynon to entertain and celebrate the beauty of our very sweet and heart-warming language.

Just a two hour drive from the city then you will be in Antique. You will see Elsed walking along the shoreline of the province writing a Binalaybay in Kinaray-a, a local language or dialect among Antiqueńos.

In the urban center of Iloilo, Earvin is talking with the male elders of his family, observing how they kept their manly shaped hair with a handmade pomade produced from ingredients picked from the backyard. This made Earvin craft his own pomade and also got amazed by the wonders it can do to his hair.

Then you will encounter Khon who was already running a digital printing business selling T-shirts and coffee mugs when he felt the need to create, not just shirts, but original works of art, the ones that reflect his artistry, passion and uniqueness.

By making a visit to the Produkto Lokal, they will meet more people, their products, and their inspiring stories. They will have the chance to meet Jon, Charmaine, Franzel, and Michelle who shared friendship and fascination over artisan soaps, or Denise who was captivated by the art of calligraphy at the age of 11.

Not only that, they will get interested on post cards painted by the 23-year-old Pearl, yarn creations by Yarn Artisan, Anna J. Boutique, and Gab and Brie who make cute and attractive baby stuff.

A celebration of culture and tradition

The first day will highlight a stage performance by various local artists who will either render a song, a dance, or read a poem.

The Produkto Lokal will not be about products and stories of people alone. It will also serve as a gathering of artists in order to relive cultural practices and traditions.

“We find it necessary to also reintroduce cultural practices and traditions through this event, mindful that our world has rapidly changed,” emphasized Arsenio.

They will have the opportunity to meet the Panayanon artisans and learn more about their lives and their sustainable practices. Indigenous groups are known for their care for the environment. It is important to relearn from them in this age of climate change, stressed Arsenio.

“So the weekend fair will be a celebration of culture and tradition,” shared Romellaine Arsenio, “and it will help explain our culture and origin and how we evolved as people and society.”

The Youth First Initiative

The Produkto Lokal Weekend Fair is a brainchild of the Youth First Initiative Philippines, a group composed of young and brilliant individuals who are educated and has acquired skills and experience in business, arts, and new technology.

As a group, the Youth First Initiative is working towards local economic development and sustainability by creating globally competitive products from local resources and finding opportunities in political, economic, and other events such as the integration of the Philippines to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

It is a group driven by social entrepreneurship, believing that the millennials are the key to economic development for the common good.

“In the future we will introduce more projects that will help indigents live a better life and introduce Panayanon artisans to a wider audience,” explained Janvie Amido, founder and executive director of Youth First Initiative Philippines.

“We are hoping to create a positive and lasting change in the local community,” Amido added.

Janvie Amido stressed that years from now, we want to see young people from economically challenged families become educated and attain empowerment.

As empowered citizens, they can use their capacities to bring their families out of the bondage of poverty and contribute in uplifting the quality of life of the poor from their respective communities.

According to Amido, the Youth First Initiative Philippines engages on initiatives that will optimize the youth, channelling their energies to productive efforts that will benefit society.

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