December 7, 2020

Gifts from and for the forest: 11 locally-made Christmas gift ideas for the thoughtful giver

Grantees of Forest Foundation Philippines, a non-profit organization that provides grants to individuals and organizations that empower people to protect and conserve our forests, offer a wide-range of locally-made products that are perfect for gifting this holiday season. You can choose from a variety of handmade items, nature-inspired crafts, as well as freshly harvested products, from Forest Foundation’s focal landscapes: Sierra Madre, Palawan, Samar and Leyte, and Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

From woven banig to all natural honey, check out this list of locally crafted and sustainable gifts for a thoughtful Christmas:

From Sierra Madre

1. Sabutan Souvenir Items

Meeting functionality with sustainability, these items are made by sabutan straws and fibers which were woven together to produce various items such as bags, pouches, fans, and footwear. Sabutan items are made by Dimasalang Egongot Tribe Farmers and Weavers Association (DEFTAWAI), an indigenous peoples community-based organization that serves as forest guardians of the Dimasalang Ancestral Domain in Maria Aurora, Aurora. The planting of Sabutan (Pandanos Sabotan) seeks to revitalize the weakening mat weaving industry in the community. You may purchase DEFTAWAI’s sabutan souvenir items online through their Facebook page, or you may visit their pasalubong centers in Baler and Aurora, if you are nearby.

2. Ginger Jelly, Candy, and Tea Powder

Show your friends and family how much you care about them by gifting them with immune-boosting ginger products by the Empowered Laiban Community Producers Cooperative from Tanay, Rizal. Miriam College – Environmental Studies Institute’s partner enterprise Empowered Laiban Community Producers Cooperative launched various ginger products, such as ginger jelly, ginger candy, turmeric tea power, ginger tea powder, and ginger chips, which can help promote overall wellness, keeping health risks at bay, especially during a pandemic. Studies show that ginger has immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that are beneficial to an individual’s overall health. Support the men and women of the Laiban Community and purchase their goods through their Facebook page.

3. Quirino Mountain Blend by the Mataga-ay Coffee Growers Producers Cooperative

Be an advocate of forest conservation and locally-grown products by sharing good quality coffee this holiday season. Sourced from Jose Ancheta, Maddela, Quirino, these coffee beans are harvested and processed sustainably by local coffee farmers of Mataga-ay Coffee Growers Producers Cooperative, a people’s organization and cooperative awarded with a Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA). Taste their premium coffee beans by ordering through their Facebook page

From Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental

4. Kape Hu Mapayag Coffee

You can’t go wrong with giving coffee as it’s an all-time favorite gift for any occasion. Make your Christmas presents even more special with Kape Hu Mapayag Coffee, fresh from the fourth highest mountain in the country, Mt. Kitanglad in  Bukidnon. In partnership with Philippine Coffee Alliance, Kape Hu Mapayag is made by Kitanglad Guard Volunteers, an association of volunteers from the 28 villages located on the foot of Mt. Kitanglad and who are leading the protection of the mountain range.  Experience Mt. Kitanglad through Kape Hu Mapayag Coffee, shop now through this Facebook page

5. Higaonon’s Best Citronella SprayScientists in Japan have discovered that scents from the forest can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase cancer-fighting proteins in the bloodstream. Aromatherapy using forest-scented essential oils can replicate these benefits! Ease into forest aromatherapy by using a simple passive diffuser and a couple of forest-centric essential oils. For first-timers, try a couple of Citronella blend sprays and candles from the Higaonon’s Best collection produced by the indigenous peoples in five ancestral domains of the Kimangkil-Kalanawan-Sumagaya-Pamalihi (KKSP) Mountain Range. These are the results of the Piloting REDD+ project, a collaborative effort by the Foundation and the NTFP – EP Philippines. One purchase supports alternative livelihood opportunities to help reduce threats of deforestation and forest degradation in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. You can get them at Lindungawan Showroom and Cafe in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and CustomMade Crafts Center in Quezon City. 

From Palawan

6. Brooke’s Point Coco Products Producers Cooperative (BPCPPC) Premium Virgin Coconut Oil

Looking for a high-value, multi-purpose gift? Spread the wonders of Virgin Coconut Oil this season of giving by supporting Brooke’s Point Coco Products Producers Cooperative, a community-based social enterprise that provides sustainable livelihood to the farmers of the indigenous Pala’wan tribe. In partnership with Bayan Academy, the cooperative produces and manufactures virgin coconut oil and other coconut-derived products that promote good health. Their VCO is FDA-approved and is made through the cold-press method, which retains all enzymes such as Lauric Acid and other immune-building nutrients. An all-around product, VCO is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-stress properties, and can be used in cooking, as well as skincare. Recent studies of this wonder oil have also shown promising results to reduce the viral load of patients infected with COVID-19. Get this at Wild Bounty’s online shop

7. Nagkakaisang mga Tribu ng Palawan (NATRIPAL) Honey

Contribute to conserving Palawan’s indigenous forests by getting your loved ones NATRIPAL Honey, hand-harvested from trees in Palawan’s forests. Partnered with Bayan Academy, the Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (NATRIPAL), or the United Tribes of Palawan, is an indigenous peoples organization federated by 63 local associations spread across the island of Palawan. They work with indigenous communities towards the recognition of their rights, natural resource management, and establishment of sustainable livelihood enterprises by collecting wild Apis dorsata honey and producing high-quality crafts made of rattan and other forest materials. Get this at Wild Bounty’s online shop

8. Seked Weavers’ Pandan Handicrafts

Woven by hands, protecting the lands. Get these pandan handicrafts and help preserve culture, conserve environment, and support indigenous communities. Assisted by Cordaid Philippines, Seked Weavers’ Pandan handicrafts are made by women from the Tagbanwa tribe in North Palawan. The tribe is known to be one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines and pandan weaving. Seked means to tie, to link or to connect in Tagbanwa, which represents the initiatives of indigenous women weavers in integrating sustainable climate resilient ecosystem-based livelihoods, environmental protection and disaster risk reduction. Shop for these handicrafts, perfect for this holiday season, through email ( or SMS (Lita Quijano – 0935 036 4315 and Liezel Bering – 0965 857 1174). 

9. Woven Banig

Showcase the craftsmanship and the richness of our culture through these handwoven vibrant mats or banig by the women of the Old San Agustin Tikog Workers Association (OSATWA). The 34 women weavers and embroiderers in Basey, Samar, the banig capital of the Philippines, seek to empower women through their work. With their livelihood, they generate their own source of income, lead in preserving the traditional way of weaving native products, and level up the status of weavers and embroiderers in their municipality, while conserving the environment. Get this at

From Advocates

10. Life Stories Cards for Conversations and Places that Move Us Journal with Forest Foundation

Make moments more memorable through Life Stories: Cards for Conversations by Where to Next? The second deck of Life Stories was created in collaboration with Forest Foundation Philippines and contains 63 questions that can take you through a journey of self-discovery, help you with creating stories, and know more about your surroundings.  Deepen your relationships with the Places that Move Us Journal, which features the stories of conservationists and the places that are dearest to them. The journal also encourages people to jumpstart their own conservation journeys through advocacy storytelling. Where To Next? is a platform to tell stories and create products that seek to inspire people to go on meaningful adventures. A portion of their proceeds will fund livelihood projects the Non Timber Forest Products – Exchange Program Philippines, a networking linking people and forests. Get this at their online shop

11. #ForestReflectionsPH Journal by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre

Wellness through healing powers of nature is now needed more than ever, as we cope through uncertain moments mostly spent indoors. Now available for pre-order, Forest Reflections by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, in partnership with Forest Foundation, is a journal and workbook for nature appreciation. The journal promotes mindfulness through nature immersion, art therapy, and writing. Encourage your friends and family to connect more with nature by gifting them this special product, which may be pre-ordered here. Other products, featuring native trees, such as face masks, greetings cards, and notebooks, are also available here.

What better way to celebrate Christmas than helping protect the country’s forest landscapes, heritage, and culture through thoughtful gifts?