There are currently two fountain pens made in the Philippines: Kasama and f-inks. Kasama is created by Dr. Mark del Rosario, while f-inks is the brainchild of Clark-based Italian Francesco (surname withheld upon request).

Both brands offer pens on the next-level end, between Php8,000 to Php20,000 depending on the material. They also come in Jowo nibs, which makes future nib-swapping easier. But what’s the difference between the two brands, and among the models they’ve released so far?

And also, if you’re relatively new to the hobby, which one is the best one to get?

READ: Fountain pen-related brands in the Philippines

To compare, we put Una and Tala from Kasama next to the F1 and F2 from f-inks. Since weight highly depends on material used, and both brands offer lots of build options for their pens, we can only objectively compare the models on three points: look, balance/writing experience, and options.

NOTE: The author purchased the Kasama Una in delrin & acrylic and the Kasama Tala Takipsilim long before this comparison was written. The Kasama Una in kamagong and bronze, f-inks F1, and f-inks F2 were borrowed for this review. Read our editorial policy here.

The look

L-R: Kasama Una in delrin and acrylic, Kasama Tala Takipsilim, f-inks F1, and F-inks F2, capped. All four pens have flat tops and bottoms

In their capped state, the f-inks F1 is the biggest while the f-inks F2 is the smallest since it is designed to be a pocket pen (in-depth look for this pen is coming soon).

When it comes to the silhouette, the Kasama Una doesn’t have a drastic step down between the cap and the rest of the body, while there f-inks F2 is perfect in this aspect. For the Kasama Tala, the newer ones have this shorter cap. The f-inks F1 meanwhile has the biggest step-down (please correct us if we’re using the term incorrectly) among the four.

All pens uncapped, with the f-inks F2 unposted.

Uncapped, the f-inks F1’s section looks like an elongated version of the Kasama Tala. Together with the Kasama Una the three models’ sections look intentionally-designed for ergonomic purposes. f-inks F2 doesn’t have this characteristic, but it does have a different selling point compared to the rest.

The balance

For this part, let us focus first on the f-inks F2. The pen is meant to be used posted, since the cap actually screws on the bottom. But if you prefer using small pens, the F2’s balance is near the end of the body. It does need a little bit of getting used to, though people we asked about this didn’t see any problem with using the F2 unposted. With the cap posted, it is well balanced.

Speaking of balance, the chunky Kasama Una’s grip makes it a slightly-better pen that its thinner sibling Tala, and much better than the f-inks F1. At first, we thought this was due to the material used, since the Kasama Una we had was in delrin and acrylic, while the f-inks F1 was in titanium.

f-inks F1 and Kasama Una in kamagong and bronze.

But after comparing the f-inks F1 to a heavier Kasama Una in bronze and kamagong, the latter still had a better balance. This could be attributed to the deep waist of the F1’s grip section, which is drastically the thinnest part of the pen and is very close to the nib.

The Kasama Una does not have this issue, because the waist, despite being deep and being the thinnest part of the pen as well, is not that close to the end of the section. Kasama Tala’s section, on the other hand, is as thin as the end of the pen and also had an ample distance from its deepest part to the end of the pen.

The options

As of writing, Kasama offers pens in different materials such as ultem, kamagong, and various plastics and metals. f-inks, on the other hand, focuses on metal that can come with different finishes. While both brands feature Jowo nibs, f-inks is the only one that offers elastic nibs in EF and F.

Regarding ink capacity, Una, Tala, and F1 come with converters. Kasama’s demonstrators can also be eyedroppered, but we did encounter someone do that with a metal-bodied Tala. f-inks, on the other hand, created a higher-capacity cartridge for the F2.

Both brands don’t have their entire lineup published, however. This means that you must inquire directly with Kasama or with Pengrafik for f-inks options. Kasama also doesn’t have all their options available all the time, which means that there is relatively a longer waiting time with Kasama compared to f-inks.

Noob verdict

If you’re buying your first Philippine-made pen, we recommend the Kasama Una. It is not exactly feather-light, but it is balanced enough across different materials to keep you writing for a long period of time. This is a bit more expensive than the lighter Tala. However, its specifications does seem to fit a wider range of users, between those who want lighter pens and those who prefer heavier pens.

Our recommended material for your next Kasama pen would be the ultem for that demonstrator goodness. The only downside for Kasama pens in general is the longer waiting time.

Kasama Una: 5 years later

But if you want a smaller, lighter pen, you can’t go wrong with either the f-inks F2 and the Kasama Tala. The F2 though is a better option if you’re looking for an elastic nib. It is also the easier one to carry around with such a smaller body.

The F2 (second from left) together with other pocket pens.

These Philippine-made pens are pricey indeed, and the material they are made of and the development process they undergo make them worthy of the next-level tag. While they are not exactly noob-friendly in terms of cost, these are all great local options for when you enter the next stage of your fountain pen life.

P.S. What’s next?

There is a third local player, De Sara, but they haven’t formally launched yet. They also focus on metal-based pens, though they seem to be open to creating models in other material.

Kasama, on the other hand, is currently developing an entirely-original pen slated for release in late 2023 or early 2024.

f-inks is also working on their 3rd model, the F3.