A coastline painted by white sand, sheltered coves, and underwater coral reefs… a deepwater harbor, windswept mountains, and lush rain forests. All these make Olongapo a major tourist destination.

Once the site of a US Naval Base, it is now a highly urbanized city. Now home to the bustling Subic Bay Freeport Zone and a new SM Mall, it is also a place where one can find innovative crafts that bring together indigenous and American influences.

Mallgoers recently had a glimpse of crafts from Olongapo and Zambales when My City, My SM, My Crafts recently made a stop at SM City Olongapo. A joint project of SM, DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade, and the Philippine Star with support from CITEM and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, it is a celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design in the cities where SM has malls.

No less than Olongapo’s First Lady and SBMA Director Cynthia Paulino graced the event together with Olongapo City Councilors Atty. Noel Atienza, Eduardo Piano, Eyrma Yvette Marzan. IP Council Representative Igmedio Gonzales and Iba, Zambales Vice Mayor Benjamin Farin, Jr., as well as SBMA Tourism Manager Mary Jamelle Camba and Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Donna Tamayo were also present.

SM officials led by SM Senior Vice President for Marketing Millie Dizon and SM City Olongapo Assistant Mall Manager Bong Garcia gave the guests a warm welcome.

Guests enjoyed the program, which included a video presentation featuring Olongapo’s world-class crafts featuring Ms. Earth Philippines 2013 Angelee delos Reyes as the video’s tour guide.

The event highlighted the beautiful and eco-friendly creations of Olongapo designer James O’Briant showcasing gowns and ternos made from indigenous materials like sinamay, banig, and even a sack of peanuts. James O’Briant’s late mother, a dressmaker, influenced his passion for design and the arts. Yet, his own innate fashion sense led him to put up a successful dress shop and make-up studio. Today, he not only makes beautiful clothes, but in a way, beauty queens, as mentor to some of Olongapo’s prettiest faces.

It also featured the awarding of the Wicker Basket Making Contest resulting from a workshop conducted by the Profairtrade group. Benito Falsario got the judges’ nod for the top prize, for which he received P5,000.00 in gift certificates.

Judges included City Councilor Atty. Noel Atienza, Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Donna Tamayo, and DTI Olongapo OIC Richelda de Silva.

But the My City, My SM, My Crafts centerpiece was clearly the Craft Market inspired by the traditional Bahay na Bato in Luzon. This beautifully designed showcase was a treasure trove of the best of the best crafts in the province, and was an instant hit among SM City Olongapo shoppers.

The Craft Market showcased Olongapo’s unique crafts: indigenous inspired wooden, shell, and bamboo décor items from Survival Arts, which began when the Aetas taught Americans jungle survival arts; as well as Island Fantasy Souvenir & Trading with their jackets, patches, badges, t-shirts, buckles, and metal watchbands, which started during the American time in Subic Naval Base.

Zambrox Corporation, on the other hand, makes use of serpentinite, the indigenous material found only in the mountains of Zambales in creating world-class décor.

Mallgoers also loved home-works from Luming’s House of Curtains, etched mirrors and stained glass from Dekora Glass Art, and custom furniture designs from Leana’s Woodcraft; as well as fashion items from Stairway Footwear and Head 2 Toe. They were also amazed at how an advocacy like Profairtrade could turn into a livelihood project that creates innovative baskets, photo frames, and bags made of indigenous and recycled materials.

My City, My SM, My Crafts is a take-off from the previous My City, My SM campaign, which promotes tourism, and My City, My SM, My Cuisine, which highlights the culinary specialties in cities where SM has malls. A celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design, it aims to showcase the best of the best Philippine crafts in each host city, providing livelihood opportunities, as well as a platform for cultural exchange.

The SM City Olongapo launch is the eight in the second season of the My City, My SM, My Crafts road show after SM City Clark, SM City Masinag, SM City Lipa, SM City Calamba, SM City Baliwag, SM Lanang , SM City Bacolod.

The first season made stops at SM City Sta. Rosa, SM City Lucena, SM City Batangas, SM City Davao, SM City Naga, SM City Cagayan de Oro, SM City Marilao, SM City Dasmariñas, SM City Taytay, SM City Pampanga, SM City Iloilo, SM City Baguio and SM City Cebu. The next stop will be in SM City San Pablo.