Meet the three women shining a light on some of the best Philippine products.
Try Local PH is the result of the meeting-of-minds of three friends Cat Juan-Ledesma, Francesca Zimmer-Santos, and Kristine Nolan who have been in search of a single platform that curates great, unique, and quality local finds, places, and concepts discovered in our country! Following their Instagram page will give you a glimpse of just some of these treasures, while clicking on the hashtag #trylocalph will lead you to all the many posts of local goods and locations other people have stumbled upon themselves. From handcrafted toys for kids, to tea-infused butter and savory spreads, and even an immersive experience through a cultural homestay, you’ll find that our ever-flourishing culture has so much—and more!—to offer.
With globalization constantly introducing us to imported goods, cuisines, and even far-off destinations, the call to put the spotlight back on everything local and appreciate what we have here is louder than ever. With passion projects like Try Local PH, slowly but surely, we’re accepting the challenge to try and put the Philippines first!
What’s the story behind Try Local PH? And what inspired you ladies to start this movement?
Cat: The three of us felt that there was a lack of that one venue for people to find amazing local products, places, and ideas. We initially thought of putting up a website, but decided on starting the movement first through social media to gain awareness. We’re turning one next month and Try Local PH currently has over 20,000 tags and over 20,000 followers all grown organically. We are so happy with how local brands and followers have supported this!
Francesca: Try Local PH is a suggestion inspired by the necessity to shine a bright light on everything our country has to offer. There is a global movement to support local in different parts of the world. Globalization provides us with so many choices that the digital age has made available today, we merely suggest that you try local.
Tell us a little bit about your background. What were your previous jobs or projects? What are you busy with now?
Kristine: I’ve worked in different industries from Maritime Business to Food & Beverage. Currently I’m working on exploring possibilities to work in the islands as I really like being surrounded by more nature. I think pursuing passion projects helps to provide a bit of balance when you’re allowed to channel your efforts into something that aims to make a social impact, no matter how small. An advocacy close to my heart is a social media platform called Pinay Futbol that promotes women’s football in the Philippines. Try Local PH is easily my favorite project as I think we all find it really enjoyable discovering amazing local concepts, and I feel so lucky to do this project with friends I love!
C: I have to agree with Kris about Try Local PH being my fave, too. Aside from this fun project, I’m the Communications Associate of The Beacon Academy, a beauty expert for Calyxta.com, and the producer of an online parenting show called The Parent Files on Industree TV.
F: I spent most of my career working in hospitality, but worked in advertising for a few years producing events. In 2011, I co-founded co.lab, the first cross-sector co-working space in the Philippines. We have started a revolution in the way we work and how Filipinos can choose to work. There are now well over 25 co-working spaces across the Philippines. Try Local PH is a testament to my love for the Philippines.
How did the three of you come to know each other? Have you worked together in the past?
F: Cat and I met in high school, while Kris and I met at a bar! Huge contrast there, but I knew right away that they were both beautiful souls. I’m not sure if you’d call it work but Cat and I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity together for a week in high school, and Kris and I had the opportunity to exchange ideas when it came to her F&B-related work.
What’s it like working with friends? Who’s in charge of what?
K: We all take turns. We came up with a plan on how to share the workload but we also keep it really flexible if we know one of us is having a particularly busy week. It honestly doesn’t feel like work most times!
C: We definitely all help each other out. I also made a promise to myself that my friendship with these two girls is more valuable than any benefits we get from this project, and that has helped in a few decisions. It’s not easy to separate work and friendship, but with us, I think we’ve done a pretty stellar job this year.
At Try Local PH, what do you look for in the brands you feature?
K: They must be a concept born in the Philippines!
C: We look for local brands that show creativity, passion, and quality.
F: More than the brands themselves, I genuinely enjoy the discovery and the fact that there is so much to offer.
Any favorite brands or products you discovered because of this? What’s your most interesting find so far?
K: My favorites are the #travelTLPH and #communityTLPH hashtags—discovering white sand beaches only a few hours away from Manila, to gorgeous products from community-driven initiatives in Visayas. I spend hours exploring the #trylocalph hashtag checking out restaurant concepts in Mindanao and breathtaking scenery from Northern Luzon. We will never run out of things to share!
C: So many! When I check out the tag #trylocalph I always end up buying something. Off the top of my head, here are a few: Body Food All Natural, Pravi Bags, Pottly & Tubby, Filip + Inna, I could go on and on!
F: Living in Manila, life tends to be Manila-centric. I am always interested to discover what all the other islands have to offer! The added perspective helps me feel less insulated.
What’s your vision for Try Local PH? A TV show, your own store (online or brick & mortar), perhaps?
K: I’m dreaming of a TLPH App, but it’s also exciting to see what it naturally evolves into.
C: We’re also looking at finally putting up that website directory we initially aimed for.
F: In the spirit of collaboration, we look forward to engaging more with the inspiring folks behind the brands they’ve created.
What are your favorite haunts in the city?
C: I’m a Southern girl, too! But when I do head North I love the vibe of 12/10 or Restock. I also love all the awesome concepts at Hole in The Wall.
F: I just moved to San Juan last year so I’m still discovering the city. There is so much to explore in my new neighborhood! Now that the rainy season is coming, I highly recommend the Ramen at Oyasumi along P. Guevarra.