by Jullie Yap Daza
Sri Lanka, a pear-shaped island, its capital Colombo located at its southern tip jutting into the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon—though it’s still Ceylonese rather than Sri Lankan tea—is hot and humid (temperatures ranging from 24 to 33 degrees Celsius on average), with sandy beaches along its coastal plain, primarily an agriculture-based economy where nearly half of the people are farmers and half of the country is forest or open woodland, and much like the Philippines experiences tropical monsoon weather.
We’ve known Sri Lanka as a great source of tea harvested from landscaped tea gardens and plantations, but now we’re seeing how its textiles, precious and semi-precious stones, paper, oil, wood, and metalwork have been “uncovered” to the extent that they’re an extra reason to go shopping there, specially if the traveler having already mined the goodies of Thailand, Vietnam, and, yes, neighboring India, is ready for someplace different. If the adventurer cannot go there, two ladies who are sisters-in-law and sisters-in-fashion have done it and gladly brought back a piece of Sri Lanka for you.
C and L, C for Charlene and L for Leona, “had absolutely no idea what to expect of Sri Lanka” when they went there to discover what they could bring back from its artists and artisans and share the loot with seekers like themselves. Their work in L’Indochine lifestyle boutique, a popular stopover at SM stores, has taught them how much there is to love about Asia, South Asia, and Asean. After years of traveling around the region, they look at Sri Lanka as a delicious secret to be unveiled, an unlikely destination to add to a bucket list, an exotic country of warm, gracious people “quick to lend a helping hand.”
Warm, gracious, helpful—how like Filipinos as they appear to foreigners!—Sri Lankans have a similar history of conquest by aliens: Portugal, Holland, Britain until independence as a republic arrived in 1972. The richness of its culture is in part due to the influence of the Buddhist Sinhalese, Hindu Tamils, Christians, and Muslims. Against this eloquent tapestry of civilizations, it’s no surprise that C and L couldn’t help themselves when they curated their collection of woven wonders, jewelry and silver work, wooden treasures, household linens, and other handmade, everyday objects that are too good not to be special—the secrets of Sri Lanka.