SAN FRANCISCO — For 15-year-old Fil-Am, Diego Fuentebella, flipping Philippine butterfly knives, or balisong, is a hobby he picked up over a year ago, a skill he’s becoming good at.
The owners of Pinoy clothing store ILLA MANILA are making sure traditional Philippine weapons and other unique Philippine products are highlighted in their apparel and accessories, for the younger generation of Fil-Ams to learn from and appreciate.
“We have roots from the Philippines. But a lot of us are born out here in the United States. And we kind of want to just bring the culture of the Philippines back to the people in the United States,” says Christian Montoya.
Based out of San Diego, California, ILLA MANILA prides itself in selling to customers all over the world.
“It started in the early 90s just traveling back and forth in the Philippines. And we just felt that it was needed for our culture,” said Ryan Cabiling.
Some of ILLA MANILA’s apparel can be described as Filipino satire.
“We also want to educate people on what our upbringing is. So we have a weapons t-shirt. That’d be just like the kamay, the walis, which is like the broom, the belt also. So we have different types. And it’s just to remind you from what you grew up with.”
ILLA MANILA is also going beyond selling products – they want to support up and coming Pinoy talents.
So far, they’ve sponsored a skateboarding team in the Philippines.
Who knows, Fuentebella could be their next sponsored talent based on his balisong skills.