How Filipino Jewelry Connected 5 Pinays To Their Roots — Diaspora Diaries

How Filipino Jewelry Connected 5 Pinays To Their Roots — Diaspora Diaries

Have you ever held something in your hands that’s transported you back to the Philippines? Or, to a moment in time with a loved one?

For myself, and many Pinays in the diaspora, Filipino fashion has unspooled a thread to tie us to the Motherland and its people.

There’s a locket in my family, a heart-shaped pendant on a wisp-thin chain, that was a gift from my Lola to my mom. Even if it was chosen with someone else in mind, it’s exactly something I would’ve wanted for myself. I’ve only worn it once, to junior prom, around the same age my mother was when she received it.

It’s a precious heirloom that I feel, when I hold it in my hands, connects me in a special way to the women I came from. Most especially to my Lola who’s lived halfway across the world since long before I was born.

Increasingly, I find myself looking for clothing and accessories that speak to who I am, who I was, and who I am becoming. If you’re reading this, you’re probably inclined to do the same.

My first pair of “pearl” studs: The Gumamela Mother of Pearl Earrings by Island Girl.

One of the first real jewelry pieces I bought was a pair of these pearly earrings, which I’ve since realized are my version of the studs my mom’s worn every day for as long as I can remember.

It’s a powerful and vulnerable way to move through the world, to bear your story so openly. For us at Cambio & Co., it’s a rallying cry. #WearYourHeritage is all about connection一Filipinas/xs/os in the diaspora reconnecting with their roots, finding kapwa (kindred spirits) in the community, and supporting Filipino social entrepreneurs and artisans in the Philippines.

Over the years, we’ve received a lot of beautiful stories from our community, partners and advocates alike, and marvel at the threads that weave our lives together. Even with oceans between us.

The Stories You Inherit When You #WearYourHeritage

If you trace the invisible string back to its source, you’ll find the jewelry-makers, weavers, woodcarvers, brass-casters, and skilled craftspeople who make what we wear.

In the same way we can feel empowered by the way we dress, our fashion choices have the power to uplift communities involved in its production. Fashion and craftsmanship are means to tell our people’s story, on our own terms.

AMAMI, one of Cambio & Co.’s partners in the Philippines, collaborates with artisans in Ilocos Sur to design and handcraft its gold filigree jewelry. In the practice and pursuit of their craft, the plateros (or silversmiths) AMAMI works with have forged a deeper connection to the rich history of their traditions. They’re continuously rediscovering techniques and designs that were on the brink of disappearance.

On a more personal note, real-life Filipinas inspire the names of AMAMI jewelry. For instance, their Estela earrings were lovingly named after an artisan’s wife who’s been working overseas for years. Another, the Leona Creolla Earrings celebrate a pillar of feminism in the Philippines, Leona Florentino, who was a Filipina poet and proclaimed “Mother of Philippine women’s literature”.

The Estela Earrings with 4 Rositas as worn by Iliana I., a Cambio & Co. advocate.

Your Turn! Stories From The Cambio & Co. Community

On the other end of the invisible string that connects the Filipino diaspora and motherland are Cambio & Co. advocates who’re reconnecting with their roots. 

Throughout the years, they’ve tagged us in photos, sent us private messages, and shared parts of their lives with us. Let us share with you a few of the lovely messages we’ve received:

Reconnection begins with a spark of recognition, from a little detail of our past, that brings us back to a beloved place, moment, or companion.

It happens as we celebrate new and exciting chapters in our lives...

… as well as when we honour and remember those who’ve passed.

At this point, there may be a little nagging voice that’s asking, “Am I Filipina enough to ‘wear my heritage’ if I don’t have these memories of growing up in the Philippines? Or I wasn’t surrounded by Filipino culture?” I urge you to read on.

Tiffany’s story affirms us that discovering what makes us Filipino is deeply personal and ever-changing, just as we are always evolving. 

The joyful part is in sharing who we are with others.

Did you love this? Then you'll also love our Island Woman's Guide To Filipino Jewelry!

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Nicolette Bautista

Nicolette Bautista

Nicolette is a Manila-based creative freelancer and Cambio & Co's Community Storyteller. She's written on the digital space about mom-and-pop's, small businesses, and social enterprises. In the pursuit of her eclectic interests, Nicolette has a broad portfolio including short videos, album art, and storybook illustrations! Find her on Instagram @of_nicolette and

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