The Bayanihan Spirit: 7 Filipino Social Enterprises Changing Communities

The Bayanihan Spirit: 7 Filipino Social Enterprises Changing Communities

Editor's note: this article was published in 2017 when Cambio & Co. was known as Cambio Market. We changed our name because we found 'Cambio & Co.' better expressed the direction we were growing and the Philippines' bayanihan culture core to our mission. You can read here about our name change, and click here for our current partners in the Philippines.


Mabuhay! June 12th is Philippine Independence Day and we couldn’t be more excited. The Philippines will be celebrating its 119th Independence Day from colonial Spain and there’s a lot to be proud of.

As you may or may not already know, Cambio Market has deep roots in the Philippines. Not only is our co-founder, Gelaine Santiago Filipino, but the conception of Cambio Market is inspired by Filipinos and the country’s amazing talent.

Cambio Market’s mission and vision is to change how business is done and how people shop by empowering every single person that touches our products. But it’s also our mission to share the beauty of Filipino craftsmanship and the Bayanihan spirit. 

What’s the Bayanihan spirit, you ask?

Bayanihan (buy-uh-nee-hun) is a Filipino custom derived from the Tagalog word “bayan” for nation, town or community. Bayanihan literally means “being in a bayan” and it refers to a fundamental aspect of Filipino culture: working together as a community to achieve a common goal.

What we love most about the word Bayanihan is how it originated. In the old days within the Philippine countryside, people moved houses – literally. When a family was moving, the whole community volunteered to lift the family’s home and literally carry the family’s house to its new location. Today, the term has been adopted to refer to local civil efforts; regular Filipinos working together to uplift their fellow compatriots.

In the same spirit, this Philippine Independence Day we will be featuring 7 of our Filipino partners and what they are doing to help local communities and promote Filipino culture, in the true Bayanihan spirit.  

1. Gouache: Waxed canvas and leather goods made by artisans in Marikina

Gouache Waxed Canvas ArtisanGouache Artisan Apron

Social Impact | Gouache was founded by Ann Enriquez and Louie Poco, out of the need for a camera bag that was stylish, functional and affordable. Working with local artisans in Marikina, Gouache can provide artisans with dignified work, training, medical care and steady income they deserve. Since launching, Gouache has been able to employ four local families and 25 bag makers.

2. AKABA Ltd. Design Co.: Handwoven backpacks and travel bags, made by indigenous weavers across the Philippines

AKABA ArtisanCamino AKABA Backpack

Social Impact | Akaba’s mission? “Each piece is designed to highlight the beauty and practical use of handwoven textiles, and the Filipino values of dedicated craftsmanship and hard work. Beyond the local market, our goal is to showcase the best of the Philippines to the rest of the world.” Akaba has partnered with various weaving communities providing livelihood programs to educate, and support existing weaving communities through fair trade. 

3. Beyond Borders Philippines: Handwoven throws and napkins breaking borders

Beyond Borders ArtisansBeyond Borders Philippines Throw

Social Impact | Beyond Borders Philippines gets their name by their threefold mission: “first, to take products beyond the physical borders of Ilocos and the Philippines; second, to create designs beyond the traditional ones; and more importantly, to improve the quality of life of their partner weavers and help them transcend beyond the border of poverty that characterizes the lives of most cottage industry laborers in the country”. Their efforts are working to preserve the dying cultural heritage of weaving in the Philippines.

4. Olivia & Diego: Upcycled jewelry transforming the lives of sex trafficking survivors

Artisan Olivia & DiegoOlivia & Diego

Social Impact | Olivia & Diego creates artisanal jewellery from eco-friendly and upcycled materials. They work with communities of stay-at-home mothers or “nanays” and young women rescued from sex trafficking. They are working to empower women in these communities to rise above poverty through fashion and design by organizing support programs and workshops to transform them into artisans who craft upcycled jewelry.

5. Aireescreates Design & Paperie: Sustainable paperie combining passion for creativity and social impact

Airees Creates Artisans/collections/all/products/leap-cahier-aireescreates

Social Impact | Aireescreates combines Airees Rondain’s passion for creativity and social impact. Aireescreates is a sustainable paperie and design company made in collaboration with an artisan co-operative in Mindanao, one of the only fairtrade-certified co-operatives in the region. They also support young women escaping sex trafficking through art workshops,advocating for art as a form of therapy.

6. Vela Manila: Bags and accessories keeping Filipino traditions alive with contemporary flare 

Artisans from Vela ManilaVela Manila Tote

Social Impact | Vela Manila believes in the value of tradition and modernity, as well as the value in community and collaboration. Vela Manila works with local weavers and bag makers in the Philippines to create pieces inspired by Filipino tradition. They pair indigenous fabrics  with contemporary designs to highlight Filipino craftsmanship and modern Filipina taste.

7. Good Paper: Handcrafted cards made by women escaping sex trafficking

Jela Artisan from Good Paper (The Paper Project)Dim Sum Greeting Card

Social Impact | Good Paper (The Paper Project) helps rebuild lives of young women overcoming sex trafficking. Their mission is to provide these women opportunities to better themselves through employment and education, teaching them skills that will help each survivor rejoin society. Some of these survivors are now managers and mentors to other women escaping sex trafficking.


Inspired to tap into our bayanihan culture?

Meet Cambio & Co.'s current partners in the Philippines. Fall in love with their stories—and products. You support their work when you #WearYourHeritage.

Rona Abayan

Rona Abayan

Rona is a Sustainability and Marketing Intern with Cambio Market. With a Bachelor’s degree in English, a certificate in PR and Digital Marketing, she is passionate about connecting and communicating with people through the broader cultural and social media world. Rona’s social platform of choice is Instagram, she loves curating images and sharing her creative vision (selfie and food photos included). Connect with her on Instagram @bonnaronaa.

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