Sari IQ, the sari-sari store market intelligence platform run by startup Packworks, recorded a five-fold increase in beer sales despite the liquor ban at the Sinulog Festival that drew an estimated crowd of 2 million this year. The total gross merchandise value of beer products from sari-sari stores within the Sinulog Festival vicinity was recorded on January 15, 2023, the day of the main festivity, which outperformed brandy and gin as compared to the previous day.

The spike in sales may be due to stricter liquor ban enforcement in retail establishments, causing people to buy from sari-sari stores that have more lenient rules and lowered prices to celebrate the festival, according to the analysis made by Fourth Wall, Packworks’ socio[1]cultural research firm partner.

Drinking for socialization

Further analysis from Fourth Wall revealed that there is a profound reason why Filipinos tend to defy liquor bans during festivals, and it runs as deep as the Spanish era. Historically speaking, the missionary accompanying Magellan on this voyage, Antonio Pigafetta, had documented scenarios of drinking sessions among Filipinos to celebrate their fleet’s arrival.

Drinking is commonly associated with socializing, but it has also been linked in sandugo or the blood compact to forge allegiance and loyalty between two parties.

“During the pre-Hispanic era, two parties would wound themselves with a dagger and drip their blood into a cup of wine, where they would then drink from the same cup to mark their bond of friendship. This symbolized that they are close as blood brothers,” said John Brylle L. Bae, Research Director of Fourth Wall.

The contemporary practice of drinking from one glass, or what is now called “tagay,” closely resembles this ancient Filipino practice – except that in today’s version, no blood is shed. Nevertheless, the idea remains: drinking from the same glass symbolizes a deep, familial relationship.

According to a 2014 study by Quartz, the Philippines offers the second-lowest cost of beer in the world, next to China, making the product more accessible. Furthermore, beer has the strongest affinity to sawsawan culture, as it complements the Filipino fried and grilled food that is usually served during fiestas and celebrations.

“Sari IQ is the perfect business intelligence tool for retailers who are seeking market data on consumer behavior and spending habit patterns of their customers across the Philippines. Data can be customized based on their desired variables such as location, product category etc. providing them a clear picture of the spending patterns of their customers,” Packworks Chief Data Officer Andres “Andoy” Montiel said.

About Packworks

Packworks is a startup company that provides a business-to-business (B2B) platform that is easy to use, has low bandwidth, and light footprint that will allow sari-sari store owners to become more efficient in managing their business. Founded in 2018 and started as a solution for multinational companies in the Philippines to connect with neighborhood stores, the platform has now transformed into a way out of poverty for the millions of sari-sari store owners across the Philippines. Packworks empowers the sari-sari stores through scalable and accessible technology, with its team composed of dedicated developers, programmers, and technicians that work to put the power back into the hands of the people at the heart of Filipino communities by providing them digital opportunities previously only available to big companies. By bringing technology-based solutions to one million Filipino sari-sari stores, Packworks is driving toward a more progressive, connected, and inclusive Philippines.

About Fourth Wall

 Fourth Wall is the pioneer sociocultural research company in the Philippines that offers choice architecture consulting. Believing in the power of information to transform behavior, it synergizes economics and data analytics with behavioral science to extract key sociocultural insights for developing organizational and market strategies. Founded in 2018, Fourth Wall has served a diverse clientele, ranging from small and medium enterprises (SMEs), large corporations to international development institutions. Its research offerings include People Analytics, Market Research, Organizational Research, and Partner Support, all facilitated by leaders in their respective industries, to understand your organization better and help you make optimal choices. For more information, visit:

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