For the third year in a row, the Magkasama Christmas Market reported a huge success as shoppers from the Lower Mainland flooded to buy Filipino goodies for the holidays.
Magkasama, which means “together” in Tagalog, is an annual Christmas event that aims to celebrate local Filipino-Canadian businesses in the Lower Mainland. It was founded in 2019 by husband-and-wife duo Matt Brennan and Corvette Romero, the masterminds behind the Filipino fusion food truck Shameless Buns.
The couple wanted a platform to share Filipino culture and food, creating a sense of nostalgia for its patrons. They decided to host the inaugural Christmas market in Vancouver in 2019, which was a huge success. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the couple to move the market online last year.
“People want a taste of home,” said Romero. “This year, we had some new vendors and they were a nice addition to the market. The crafts they made were really great for gifting.”
This year’s virtual Filipino Christmas market was open for business from Nov. 19 to Nov. 28, featuring 18 vendors from the Lower Mainland’s Filipino community. The market featured several vendors that make specialty Pinoy food and drinks, such as pandesal (Filipino bread rolls), Filipino coffee beans and authentic Filipino barbeques. There were also candles, children’s books and many other handcrafted goodies.
And it did very well. Many Filipino content creators on Instagram and TikTok promoted the market on their platforms. Romero said there were 265 sales throughout November, an indicator of the market’s popularity in the Lower Mainland. The market has also become a local staple during the holiday season: the duo is planning on hosting another event next year.
“I think we’re always on the lookout for new vendors every year to change things up, and to give an opportunity for new small business to get highlighted. So I think if there was any change, it would just be additional vendors,” Romero said.
Magkasama is also a hit among the vendors and patrons.
“People really liked the convenience of being able to order stuff from different vendors and picking up those items from a central location. The vendors were also appreciative: they’re able to gain new customers that might shop at their stores year-round,” Romero said.
When asked if a physical market is being considered for next year, Romero said she isn’t closed to the idea but the virtual market made better sense logistically.
“I mean, it’s something we’re definitely open to. Logistically, it’s actually so much easier running virtual markets. We’re definitely open to doing a live one, though, like we’ve done before,” she said.
While Magkasama has wound down to a close, those looking to support local Filipino businesses should not despair. Many of Magkasama’s participating vendors have physical stores throughout the Lower Mainland and e-commerce platforms for shoppers to purchase goodies from the comfort of their own homes.
A full list of participating vendors can be found on Magkasama’s latest Instagram post.