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#LifeLokal: How Liwayway is introducing French art de la table to the Filipinos

By Camille Santiago Published Mar 25, 2022 9:38 pm

We’re telling you now, their stuff ain’t cheap. For Liwayway, the craft and handiwork are what you are paying for.

If you’ve been shopping for your home, your Instagram algorithm might have already introduced you to Liwayway PH, a local premium homeware and fashion brand that sells adorable handicrafts in very Filipino designs. But Liwayway is more than just a lifestyle company, its goal is to uplift and preserve the Filipino culture and promote local talent.

French humanitarian Aurore Roiland relocated to the Philippines in 1999 after she fell in love with the country. Back then, she would buy handicrafts from her visits in the different parts of the Philippines and resell them to expats in Hong Kong, Singapore, and even in her home country, France, to finance her foundation Delépine Foundation. Aurore would also help local artisans “improve their designs to make it more saleable,” but she always shrugged off the idea of putting up her own brand.

Until finally, in 2017, her adoptive Filipina daughter Marjorie de los Reyes convinced her to do so. The Filipino-French mother-and-daughter tandem created Liwayway “in order to distribute and market the creations more widely.”

Aurore Roiland and Marjorie de los Reyes, founders of Liwayway

Her daughter shared that every time her mother went back to France, she would always bring pasalubong from the Philippines for her family, including items from other local brands like Jewelmer, Aranaz, and Zarah Juan, but she always wondered, ‘What else is there?’

The answer is right there: dinnerware. It was only natural that Aurore decided to put up a tablescape brand—she’s French after all!

“Since I was surrounded by people obsessed with table setting when I was raised, I think it was easier for me,” Aurore told PhilSTAR L!fe.

Pineapple shakers (P2,000)
Filipino design with French aesthetic

Liwayway’s products come in designs that are distinctly Filipino such as the jeepney, carabao, bahay kubo, Barong Tagalog, and even Jose Rizal.

When asked why she didn’t go for French designs, Aurore gushed about the beauty of the Philippines in return.

“In France, we’re always talking that you have beautiful things here in the Philippines. For me, it was not put under the light,” she said.

“What she wanted to do is that to create something really very Filipino that they can bring outside,” continued Marjorie.

The people we are working with, we respect what they are doing and we pay them fairly.

Black coral shorts (P3,000)

Talking about the symbolisms, Aurore explains that they have no deeper meaning, they just want her clients, especially foreigners, to see what the country has to offer.

“We don't pretend and I have no pretension to know anything about history or politics. It's just I'm trying to work through the brand to get to have a picture of what we have in the Philippines. That's it. We’re not trying to speak about history [or] to give a lesson about politics,” she explained.

Aside from diningware, Liwayway is also selling fashion pieces such as beaded shoes, bags, wrap-around pants and shorts, and dresses.

Kimona napkin ring (P450)
Expensive but high quality

Their prices don’t come cheap—and Aurore and Marjorie are well aware of that. But for them, they want to be able to pay their craftsmen fairly.

“You don't pay someone P500 sewing morning to the night without aircon,” Aurore cites as an example. “The people we are working with, we respect what they are doing and we pay them fairly.”

“Think about it, you’re going to drink just water or to be beautiful on your table. This guy will cook two times in more than five hours under the heat,” she added.

Aurore wants her potential buyers to understand that they are buying the craft in the Philippines and that they’re helping the livelihood of makers.

“It's what we want in Liwayway—there is really something deeper than just buying something for the table.”

Textile plates (P470) and Salungo salt and pepper shakers (P1,750)

I think the signal we want to send is: ‘Look what they can do. There is a very big talent in Philippines.'

Boom in anything local

It’s not easy to sell their items for hundreds or thousands of pesos, they admit. At first, Aurore was disheartened that she didn’t have Filipino customers. But the advocacy of the younger generation on supporting local, she says, has helped bring awareness.

“I think before it was really a fashion to get everything coming from abroad. It was better, people coming from abroad was better, and that producing was better,” she shared. “But now, they’re getting more exposed and educated to local handicrafts.”

Her advice: “Go abroad to appreciate what you have at home.”

Making of a jeepney shaker

“It's what I say to some people when they are saying the brand is too expensive: Imagine all the concept there is [and] the people [behind it],” she added. “I think the signal we want to send is: ‘Look what they can do. There is a very big talent in Philippines.’”

Aurore and Marjorie are proud to say that Liwayway is 99% made in the Philippines (their Inabel melamine plates had to be made in China)—no machine needed, just tools and hands of talented craftsmen.

"It's expensive because it's made in the Philippines," Aurore said.

Unfinished Salungo tea pot (P5,500/big, P5,000/small)