A souvenir shop in Negros Oriental is making a mark in the Philippine handcraft industry. Rising from humble beginnings, Subida Souvenirs has wide array of beautiful memorabilia items and collectibles created from the master artisans and craftsmen of Negros Island.
Tucked on the foot of the uphill town of Valencia, Subida Souvenirs is home to hundreds of curated collectibles from the most unique finds and charming things that define the people, culture and craftsmanship of Negros Oriental.
The shop was an ambitious roll-out dreams of young couple Mike and Jana Alano. Both graphic and visual artists, they braved to venture in the unfamiliar territory of producing craftsmanship beyond computer screens.
They started by scouting the existing native arts and crafts of Negros Oriental. They asked the locals where to find some of the undiscovered-but-unique products of the province. Through their skills, they introduced innovations in producing stunning art pieces.
“It was a process that made us meet and make friends with interesting people. It was the inspiration from these friends that led us to open the shop,” said Mike.
Currently employing nine workers at his Valencia shop, he said their business recognizes the vital importance of fair trade not only from the part of the buyers but from the workers as well.
“We see to it that our workers and suppliers are compensated well. That way, they are morally obligated to produce the best product from the best available materials to assure of genuine quality,” he said.
Visiting Subida Souvenirs, one cannot miss the inviting and enticing colorful flags at the facade of the shop. Hanging by its signage is a gigantic dream-catcher, the biggest I have seen in my entire life, that re-echoes the magnitude of the Alano’s dreams far and beyond the walls of the humble store.
At the facade are arrays of traditional toys such as kadang-kadang, kariton, ligiron, and wooden motorbikes that remind us of the joy of the Filipino childhood.
As you enter the shop, you cannot help but mesmerize on the collections that fill the entire store. From the floor, walls and ceiling, Subida Souvenirs is adorned with artworks, bags and wallets, delicacies, fashion items, made-to-order memorabilias, traditional toys, home decors, and wellness items including the mystical love potion from the province of Siquijor.
On the production lines at the back of the shop are arrays of beautiful miniature items – motorcycles, tricycles, big bikes, jeepneys, toys — freshly produced by the hands of the master craftsmen.
But among the many crowning glories of Subida Souvenirs, Mike takes pride on its flagship product line Subida Native Backpack.
Subida Native Backpack is both eco-friendly, fashionable, and stylish. Outside, it is 100 percent handmade by Subida weavers from the highest quality of air-dried pandanus fibers. Inside, it has Cordura™ lining and armature that is found in high end mountaineering bags.
Through the combination of excellent design and superior quality, Subida Native Backpack was recognized as the Most Creative Product during the OTOP Showcase 2017 in Cebu; and the Most Innovative Product during Sandugo Trade Expo 2017 in Bohol.
But above its finest quality, Subida Native Backpack takes pride on the very story of its creation.
“There are no takers of the initial design. Almost every bag-maker in the province shrugged it, until a recently rehabilitated drug-addict answered the challenge,” he said.
From the hands of one person, Subida Native Backpack developed to what it is now, one of the most-sought items of Subida Souvenirs. From nothing, he said the worker managed to rebuild his life from the ruins of drugs, and now has a house and other properties of his own.
“We wish fervently for everyone we met to feel better for having done business with us, better for having shared our life and culture, and better for having met us on the crossroads of our lives.”