Beaming with Pride: 6 LGBTQIA+ Businesses in the Philippines
In the spirit of Pride Month, we highlight LGBTQIA+ business owners who have not only made an impact with their respective brands but do so with pride.
Despite having more than 86% of the population entrenched in Catholicism, the Philippines remains one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries in Asia. But even with these numbers, there is still some stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against them, with some companies even showing a blatant lack of inclusivity for the community. This is why to this day, the LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for equality.
In celebration of Pride Month and their strength in coming out and freely expressing themselves and their beliefs, we highlight business owners in the LGBTQIA+ community who continue to raise the flag by taking pride in the businesses they have established themselves.
6 Businesses Owned by LGBTQIA+ Members
Rainbow Kitchen Manila was conceptualized by internationally-trained Spanish Chef Ivan Fernandez. He, together with his team, had the idea of launching a business of their own, given that they continuously spent their days cooking meals for themselves. What’s more, all of the owners are proud members of the LGBTQIA+ community, so they decided to incorporate “rainbow” into their restaurant name.
Spanish Chef Ivan Fernandez of Rainbow Kitchen Manila. Photo credits: Rainbow Kitchen Manila
Fernandez, having worked with Spanish restaurants, decided that it will be nice to share Spanish cuisine with a twist to Filipinos. This is why their menu includes Filipino-Spanish dishes like Tuna Empanada Gallega, Fabada Asturiana, Paella Negra, and Tortilla de Patatas.
This LGBTQIA+ creatives agency works closely with MSMEs who share the same principles with them. Founded on the principle of “Pride Marketing Done Right,” their mission is to leave their clients feeling in love or “hibang” after experiencing their products and services.
“Hibang, the Filipino word for madly or crazy in love, is our way of promising to our clients an audience in love with their brand, product, or service,” the website reads. “We’re a boutique creatives agency working primarily with Filipino MSMEs and selected clients whose values we share and admire.”
Moreover, the company works with young talents who are members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community in “delivering results-oriented outputs for our clients”. Aside from being openly committed to promoting diversity, equality, and inclusivity, they also offer commissioned arts, photography and film, and email marketing among their wide roster of services.
Established in 2005 by Ian Carandang, Sebastian’s Ice Cream has long proved itself by becoming the first artisanal ice cream brand in the country. Carandang, a proud gay, started the business with the idea of being experimental with ice cream flavors. Plus, his head ice cream maker also happens to be a proud part of the community.
“We here at Sebastian’s focus on quality, creativity, and innovation—always looking to see what else can be done in the realm of frozen desserts and striving to be the absolute best while doing it,” Ian expresses.
Every month in June, he drops a Pride Month collection which features rainbow-colored ice cream products. Among those that he offers are Pride Pops (rainbow colors), Bear Pop (colors of the bear pride flag: brown, rust, golden yellow, tan, white, grey, and black), and Transgender Pop (trans flag colors: baby blue, baby pink, and white). They also offer a Rainbow Ice Cream Cake.
Schezca Design is a Manila-based design studio that started by accepting art commissions on its social media pages, along with ready-to-buy sticker packs. Since then, however, the company has broadened its services to include traditional art, graphic design, branding, and digital illustrations.
What’s more, artists Schezca Pagarigan and Erika Isidro also use their platform to share their advocacy about being proud lesbian feminists.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time…[and] it feels fulfilling to finally showcase my artwork! It took me a long time to fully believe in my art, but this time I feel confident and more than willing to learn more about my craft,” Schezca shares.
Butterboy Bakehouse is a popular local croissant shop owned by proud LGBTQIA+ couple Architect Hildebrand Demeterio and Dr. Jayson So, who both started the business based on their “pursuit of good food”.
This is why the bakeshop is known for its affordable, flaky croissants. And while some take on classic flavors, their unexpected ones have caught the eyes of many. Among those that they offer are ham and cheese, white taro chocolate, mango cashew, and even caldereta, a popular Filipino stew.
Aside from their Pride-themed croissants, which they sell every June, Butterboy is also known for hosting LGBTQIA+ events, like the Drag Brunch and MerienDrag, which takes place on Saturdays to serve to uplift and brings together the drag community. “I’m no pastry chef. Just a pastry gay!” Demererio declares.
Cooltura Hub is owned by the LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Director for Regional Relations and Lead for LGBT Tourism and Seasoned PR & Marketing Consultant Jeoff Solas. During the pandemic, he opened multiple businesses, starting with Cooltura Hub’s barbershop, where people can also buy drinks from BreaTea.
Jeoff Solas of Cooltura Hub during the 15th World AIDS Day Campaign. Photo credits: jeoffsolas
To date, his portfolio of brands includes Cooltura Salon & Spa, Cooltura Travel, and Cooltura Water. What’s more, these businesses have allowed him to expand his network and provide livelihood in his area—founded on things he learned about his neighborhood during the lockdown.
“[Given the owner Jeff’s] deep appreciation and network in tourism, the brand Cooltura was made and since then it has been flourishing [in] key places in order to reach more communities and be involved in the advocacy in promoting health and wellness,” the company’s website reads.
The aforementioned businesses are the pride of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who wish to contribute to society. Aside from giving their customers the products and services they offer, these businesses also stand tall with their colors to provide inclusivity and show everyone that they are to be taken seriously.