An Interesting BUY PINOY Experiment: 2011 Edition

The following entry is one of my most popular blog posts in my parenting/journal blog site, Lessons Of A Dad.  I think you, the good readers of Definitely Filipino, may appreciate it.  Comments are welcome, and if you like what you see (and you’re a parent, yourself) feel free to follow or subscribe to my site.  Enjoy:

An Interesting Buy Pinoy Experiment: 2011 Edition.  Previously published on July 4, 2011 at Lessons Of A Dad

This is a 2011 update or remake of one of my most popular blog articles on my personal site. It’s regarding a book-based project that I give every school year to my third year high school students.

As some of you know, I am a teacher by profession. One of the subjects I teach is Literature, and here I differ from the norm in that I give more than just fiction. I often have students read books that build their character in addition to the works by the authors such as Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, and George Orwell.

One such book, which the third year students read, is 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country. The author, Atty. Alex Lacson, noticed that we as the Filipino people are very unpatriotic. We put down our own country constantly, so many of us dream of leaving, we don’t pay taxes properly…heck, even the most popular college course, by far, is one designed to get us out of these shores.

So, this book is Atty. Lacson’s heartfelt effort to have us believe in our struggling country and do what we can to support it. He enumerated twelve easy steps on how to do that, hence the title.

The third chapter of the book deals with patronizing Filipino products, and it’s one of the hardest hitters for me, personally. I grew up in America during the time they had a “Buy American” campaign; and the many South Koreans who live here among us amaze me in that they refuse to patronize anything not made in their home country.

Filipinos? Well, in one of the first reflection assignments of this topic, a former student last year summed up very bluntly what is likely the mindset of her classmates, and probably of the whole nation as well: “I don’t use Filipino products to the point that I don’t even know what they are.” Now that hurts.

And it’s not just my Filipino ego that hurts. The Philippine economy hurts too. Lacson explains that when we buy an imported product, perhaps 50% of the price we pay for it goes outside the country, money that could’ve gone to our very needy people if we bought a Filipino-made product.

Of course, the main reason why we don’t patronize is we think that our products are inferior. Maybe it’s true for a good number of them, but why not support anyway and give them the funds to make their products better? Look at San Miguel Beer. Oh, we Filipinos loooooove to support THIS local product! Now, it’s hailed as one of the world’s best beers.

So here’s their project for this chapter: The BUY PINOY Experiment 2011. The students, for one whole week, had to exclusively use Filipino products whenever possible, replacing the imported products that they love oh, so much. I learned my lesson from last year and sent out a memo to the parents, asking them to buy the Pinoy goods and to be one with us in trying to instill patriotic values to their kids. When one week is over, they write an essay about their experience.

I just finished grading their essays, and was pleased with the results. Just like the first go-round last year, the students found little to no difference in quality between Pinoy products and their international counterparts. Hapee instead of Colgate was an easy switch for most. Some struggled with Magnolia butter compared to Anchor, but others didn’t see much difference. One student tried the locally made pineapple spread compared to the imported marmalade, and found the local brand much better. The Fibisco cookies were liked as much as, and some even better than, the international ones. And who doesn’t love Puto Seko?

The students struggled mightily at first, but grew to love the assignment. They now wonder why we so smugly ignore the goods we make from our own shores.  Here’s what some of the students had to say:

•    “Let’s stop brainwashing ourselves that just because it’s imported, it’s better.”
•    “Before the week of our project, I thought, ‘Man, this is gonna be hard!’…To my surprise, nothing really changed…I barely felt a struggle…I don’t plan on stopping here.  I want to continue supporting local products and buy them more often.”
•    “One week of buying only local products passed by pretty fast.  It was not too hard to resist the imported things and buy the Filipino products instead.  Some were actually not that bad.”
•    “Before this project, I underestimated and undervalued the local products of our country.  Little did I know that after this project, I would see things in a different light and appreciate my country’s products more than I have ever before.

Well, just like the first incarnation of this blog post, I want to use this article to challenge you, dear Filipino reader, to do your own version of the kids’ BUY PINOY project. You may be just as surprised as they were. Try it out for a week…and don’t stop there. They didn’t.

My family almost always goes to either Jollibee or Bacolod Inasal when we eat lunch after church. I vastly prefer Human Heart Nature’s organic bug spray over OFF! lotion. Our native tsokolate or sikwate drink trumps Swiss Miss, and you can probably say that with our homegrown coffees, too. Hapee toothpaste and Magnolia ice cream have been long-time products in our household. It even got to the point that I sold my phones and bought a dual-sim model from the Philippines’ first mobile phone brand, My|Phone.

My mom also followed suit, getting an even nicer model.

Hey, if we can do it, and if my students can do it, then you can buy Pinoy too. Outside of the shirts with the Philippine designs on them, and our manic support for Manny Pacquiao, patriotism in this country is just about dead…or at least in the ICU. Buying Filipino products is an easy way to show our love for country. See you in Jollibee!

—  Carlo Alado  (Lessons Of A Dad)

About Healthy Frugal Filipino

A happily married Filipino father of three. Loves God, his family, and his job as a teacher. Has a blog geared to help fellow Filipinos become the best of ourselves.