GMA7 I-Witness video interview
14 January 2014 (screenshot by Prescian Tejada)
My "secondhand" love, in two decades
02 December 2018 (updated 15 May 2019)
Note: This is a relatively lengthy story of my journey in the world of secondhand clothing. Thank you for the time and patience in reading the story behind the struggles and adventures. I have also listed on the rightmost column some of the online resources related to secondhand clothing (starting from the most recent) that have cited my work. Again, my sincerest gratitude.
Paper: may be downloaded from the PIDS website, or from my ResearchGate profile.
August 11, 2001, an ordinary Saturday. The feature episode of the defunct news magazine show of Noli de Castro, Magandang Gabi Bayan (MGB), featured secondhand clothing, or ukay-ukay (in Cebuano, and wagwagan in Ilocano). I got interested in the feature for the following reasons. First, is the relatively cheap costs of purchase. second, the quality and the uniqueness of such clothing articles. and third, the adventure of having such find that is expected to be uniquely yours, i.e., it will be unlikely that some other person will have such king of clothing article.
My friends know me that I am not a brand-conscious person. I buy clothing articles for two main reasons: uniqueness in style, and comfort. These two reasons are most of the time met in my seek-thy-secondhand-clothing-adventure, plus the fact that such clothing costs much less than brand new counterparts.
With these in mind, I got interest the economics of it, probably, as I am embarking towards my final year as an undergraduate economics student. While I am taking a course in Econ106 (Consumption Economics) that semester, at the same time, my blocmate Celeste Cadavedo has done a paper requirement in a third year required course in Eng10 (Writing of Scientific and Technical Papers) in the same topic in the succeeding semester of academic year 2001-02 (I took Eng10 during the first semester, at the time the MGB episode was shown, but my paper was not about secondhand clothing). I requested if i can have a copy of her paper and use that possibly as a starting material for my undergraduate thesis the following academic year. And thankfully, she agreed.
Come first semester of academic year 2002-03, I embarked on an exploratory undergraduate thesis on "The economics of secondhand retail trade: an analysis of the market for ukay-ukay". I was thankful to my adviser, Prof Amelia Bello, for permitting me to do such an exploratory topic. "Exploratory", because: the topic does not have any previous research (e.g., published journal articles), and I will be using primary data (which i plan to gather on my own). I am one of the few students in that academic year enrolled in Econ200 (Undergraduate Thesis) that was possibly be allowed to do a thesis topic of such type.
I was also thankful that during the first semester of 2002-03, I am enrolled in an elective course in Stat166 (Statistics for the Social Sciences), which is a required course for BA Sociology and an elective for BS Economics. I took such elective together with Math38 (Mathematical Analysis 3, equivalent to Math55 in other UP campuses), which were both instrumental in my model formulation for that topic. Writing the model from scratch, I have only the textbooks of Hal Varian, Louis Leithold, GS Maddala, and Damodar Gujarati, plus the numerous news articles, feature articles (e.g., in ABSCBN, GMA7, Inquirer, Good Housekeeping) in moving forward.
I planned a 5D4N backpack adventure in Baguio City to do my data gathering, targeting a hundred respondents, and at least fifteen interviews from stall owners and retailers. My instinct was to call UP Baguio and inquire for transient residence. However, that time, the UP Baguio dormitory was fully booked (it was the last week of October, semestral break). I was thankful that the person I called, Ma'am Amihan of the UP Baguio Office of the University Registrar. She has a private dormitory for females, and allowed me to stay in her dormitory for a minimal fee, since the occupants are away for the semestral break (I will be forever thankful, Ma'am). I got to meet again Ma'am Amihan In December of 2012 during my first Christmas in Baguio (with Martha Españo), and relayed about what has happened to my thesis, a decade prior.
That adventure of data gathering was memorable. I almost got investigated by city officials, thinking that I was an intelligence agent of some sort (it is good that I always bring my UPLB ID and approved thesis document from chapters 1 to 3, for the first three units of Econ200). It was difficult to survey buyers. As always, income and age (especially for female respondents) are sensitive information, as well as to obtain some "inside stories" from retailers and owners. This is where I have to put into real-world use of my journalism skills i learned since elementary up until college, being the Business Manager of UPLB Perspective that year.
In that same year, Nicolo Masakayan, our UPLB Perspective Editor-in-chief, had some idea with our Associate Editor, Rowena Espiritu of coming up with a special feature magazine. Entitled "Aporia", it was perhaps the first of its kind in the history of UPLB Perspective. This became my outlet for my my preliminary work on my undergraduate thesis, with title "Sa Mundo ng mga Damit na Secondhand". The article is a featurized version of the review of literature of the thesis in progress (I have revised the article and placed it as a section in my upcoming high school textbook in economics).
I finished the thesis with a grade helpful in pulling up my general weighted average, enough to meet the minimum for a Latin honor (the thesis weight is six units). Thank you to my thesis panel, Prof Amelia Bello, Prof Rodger Dennis Valientes (reader), Dr Gideon Carnaje, Dr Yolanda Garcia, and Dr Zenaida Sumalde for the helpful comments, without knowing that I have defended my thesis on my birthday week). I am not the best thesis in our graduating batch, but at the very least I am happy to work on such topic which I enjoyed, learned a lot, applied my skills, get to know new people, and do some actual data gathering work, not discussed in a typical classroom setting.
In 2004, after my stint in my first job as a research assistant in the tie-up project of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the head of the PIDS Research and Information Services Ma'am Jennifer P.T. Liguton saw my undergraduate paper and suggested to work on that and to submit in their in-house journal, the Philippine Journal of Development. The experience is heartbreaking for a first-timer, since I know nothing about peer-reviewed and abstracted journal editing and writing. Nonetheless, the heartbreak I got in my first submission motivated me to carefully work on the comments in the review. I got to understand the process fully after the paper was published in 2005 (Thank you Ma'am Jenny for your support). At that time, I am about to finish my MA Economics in UP Diliman. As a graduate student, it is a fulfilling experience that your undergraduate thesis is published as a journal article.
Between 2003 and today, the world wide web has developed significantly, from the very slow single terminals that can be accessed only in internet cafes, to the wireless network enabled smartphones we have today. These also contributed in the interest of people in secondhand clothing, also given the conditions of the market audience, and the cultural perspective it embodies.
I was informed of several articles and blogs posted online citing my work, and also research papers by college undergraduates with the same theme. Until 2017, when PIDS, through its Socioeconomics Reseaarch Portal for the Philippines (SERP-P) platform, recognized my paper as the second most downloadable work in the SERP-P. Since the first placer is a book, such recognition made my paper as the most downloadable journal article in the Philippine Journal of Development. In that same year GoogleScholar notified me that I have a citation from Springer, one of the highly respected international publishers.
Not to mention, this same paper I did on secondhand clothing brought me to television not once, but thrice. In 2014, I was a part of the segment on secondhand clothing in GMA7 I-Witness hosted by Jay Taruc (through the production assistant Ms Adrienne Cabalinan), and twice in 2018 as a related material for secondhand mobile phone market in ANC On The Money (thanks to Mr Dwight Angelo de Leon and Mr Noel Palisoc).
To date, I have seen a growing interest in secondhand clothing, whether on culture and anthropological studies, economics, and other aspects of daily life, both academic and non-academic. I am much thankful that as I write this journey, I am getting notifications citing my work, and seeing more people working on the topic, whether here or in the other parts of the world.
Recently, I have been invited in a policy dialogue on secondhand clothing, organized by Fashion Revolution Philippines, a member of the global network nongovernment organization Fashion Revolution. Supported by the British Council, their study on secondhand clothing identified my paper as one of its main references for undertaking such study. My sincerest gratitude for such invitation and participation in the said events and activities.
Finally, i would like to thank the people who are showing interest in this topic, more particularly the metrics the paper is garnering in the PIDS website, and as well in my ResearchGate profile.
Legalizing ukay-ukay can help save the planet
Nolisoli, Cathy Cañares-Yamsuan
09 May 2019
The impact of the importation of second-hand clothing in the Philippines
Fashion Revolution Philippines,
Lian Sing and Michelle Esquivias
Kulturang Filipino sa ukay-ukay
1a12 Blog (Wordpress)
23 October 2018
Ti Pudno Maipanggep iti Ukay-ukay
Bannawag, Virginia A Duldulao
17 September 2018
The Daily Tribune, Concept News Central
27 July 2018
When ukay-ukay is more than a challenge
CNN Philippines, Portia Ladrido
02 May 2018
Elemental and Infrared Characterization of Contaminants in Second-Hand Cotton Garments From Flea Markets In Valencia City, Bukidnon, Philippines
Jurnal Penelitian Fisika dan Aplikasinya, MAP Butanas, BM Butanas Jr
Ukay culture in QC
Dapitan Post, Divine Sanchez
16 December 2017
Global pinoys: the archipelago of migration
The Philippine Archipelago (Springer), Yves Boquet
21 April 2017
The world of second-hand clothes: the ukay-ukay market
College of Economics and Management (CEM) Technical Bulletin, Amelia l. Bello
04 June 2016
Competitiveness, viability, economic benefits and difficulties of the ukay-ukay business
CVCITC Research Journal, JAP Valdez , BRL Acosta, BV Ramos
Investigating second-hand fashion trade and consumption in the Philippines: Expanding existing discourses
Journal of Consumer Culture (SAGE Pubs), Veronica L Isla
07 May 2013
The economics of ukay-ukay
Bulatlat.com, Ina Alleco R Silverio
18 April 2011
Vintage treasure: ukay-ukay!
23 November 2010