The Collective is a place that makes me feel like I’m missing the point. Seems that shops are always closed when I pass by, and for some reason, being here makes me feel old. If you’ve ever heard Bowling for Soup’s song, “1985,” then you get the idea. I’m far from being a fuddy-duddy and uncool, but if it weren’t for Ritual, I wouldn’t keep coming back to The Collective.
Ritual is one of my favorite stores and I daresay that there’s no other store like it in Manila. A general goods store transformed for the 21st century, it espouses the beliefs and practices that the new world left behind. All the items sold here are organic and artisanal, sourced from the purest origins and farmers whose practices are eco-friendly.
It’s these soaps that greet me every time I come over. Natural and homemade, they look like large slabs of candy. The soaps lord over a selection of shampoos, massage oils, and household cleaners.
Adjacent to the household products are deep sacks of various salts – everything from coarse to fine – and bins of rice and coconut sugar. Weigh and pay only for what you need.
The back wall is my favorite. Here, food items gleam and tempt, and I feel even better knowing that they’re conscientiously sourced. The top shelf holds jars of dried goods like sweet sorghum flour, sago starch, mongo grains, and rice bean (tapihan). The second to the top shelf has sweet sorghum syrup, coconut sugar, jams, and a funky fermented herbal drink made with malunggay and papaya. (It’d take balls to glug that stuff down, but imagine the health benefits!)
Stuff that speaks to two loves of mine: coffee and tsokolate. Both are rituals of my daily life, in addition to being a mantra and the mission of Ritual as a store.
Willingly seduced by salt. I’m thinking that I don’t need to spend obscene amounts on any other specialty salts.
Ritual has a food line it calls Real Food. I’ve not yet tried their bottled drinks which include the popular Cinnamon Dark Cacao and the Cold-Brewed Organic Robusta. On one visit, they even have little packs of pure cocoa butter. Possessing vital antioxidants, cocoa butter can be used as a moisturizer or in food: fry some potatoes in it (yes, really), add it to temper chocolate, or use in place of shortening in baked goods, among myriad other uses.
I admire Ritual’s co-owner, Bea Misa and her eye for details. All the labels are done by her and I’m in love with the little doodad-thingamajig accents she uses to decorate her store. Sometimes what I’ve got my eye on is not for sale but barring that, here are some other things that are and which I buy.
This wooden dough cutter is what I recommend to cut bread dough into rolls. Its blunted, softer edges allow for a higher rise as opposed to a stainless steel cutter.
Oh, back to the my summer days when we’d scrape slices of melon into glasses of sweetened cold milk! That papaya grater would be great for making somtam (Thai-style papaya salad) or shredding cabbage.
A-ha, a steak board! Where have you been all my life? Only the best “plate” for my favorite food in all the world.
Unit A The Collective
7274 Malugay Street,
San Antonio, Makati.
(02) 400 4326
Open 12 noon to 9 p.m. (Tuesday to Saturday)