Just last month, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) publicly released a fountain pen set to help fund its operations in supporting local journalists.
But for buyers, will this be a case of purchasing a merchandise just for a cause?
Disclosure: We purchased this pen. Read our editorial policy here.
NUJP fountain pen in focus
There’s no identified manufacturer for the pen, aside from the information that it is made in China. Here’s a breakdown:
- Aesthetics – The pen only comes in black with gold-plated trim, with the union’s logo etched on the body. This branding type decision means that the logo won’t scratched anytime soon. It is also better compared to the usual company pens which feature only the name, or have the logo printed either on the body or on stickers. Meanwhile, the section itself has two gold parts sandwiching a black portion. This is unusual, but it looks good.
- Durability – While the pen may look like it is made of plastic, a closer inspection of the body suggested that it is entirely made of light metal. Other pen users we consulted think it is made of aluminum. The cap’s clip is also snug.
- Ergonomics – The section is just as thin as the body. It is also pleasantly light. Its body and section is divided by two 8-sided rings, but it doesn’t obstruct the grip. This also means that your pen won’t roll off the table if you put it down uncapped.
- Ease of use – The snap cap needs bit of effort when pulling it off the pen. But the Kurm-branded nib always starts writing at first touch, and lays down a medium fine line (in Asian standards). That makes up for the slight inconvenience.
- Price – Php 800 = US$14.35, at Php55.75 per US$ as of November 3, 2023. Comes with two Philippine-made inks mixed by New Brew: Union Red and Journalist Blue.
- Availability – NUJP’s Shopee page.
The NUJP fountain pen is a decent starter pen. Sourced from China, it does exactly what it is supposed to do: write without any hiccups.
That is not always the case for China-made pens. But this is where knowing the hobby comes in for Jhoanna Ballaran, journalist and national treasurer of NUJP, and fellow union members. Since they actually use fountain pens, Ballaran said that they were very particular in their search for a supplier.
This avoided the usual pitfall of corporate-branded pens where their usefulness stops at being proper gifts with logos.
Aside from the pen itself, potential buyers will also get two locally-made inks, making the set “sulit”. There’s no cartridge included but the standard converter is appropriate to get new users started immediately with bottled inks.
It is always difficult to pull off the cap, and those who tend to use just one hand for this task will find this annoying. Usually, caps are pulled or screwed off with just little force. Not for this one.
This also means that somewhere along the way, forceful uncapping will make the cap’s inside part hit the section’s gold portion which is closer to the body. Unfortunately, this part easily scratches, which might be unsightly for some.
At first, you might be enticed to buy the NUJP fountain pen set to help support its projects for Filipino journalists. And that is commendable on its own. But for this instance, you get something of good quality in return.
With Php800, you get noob-friendly set featuring a pen that never hard starts and two bottles of inks that, according to Ballaran, accurately represent visuals associated with the union.
After all, the fountain pen remains to be an enduring symbol of freedom of the press, even if handwriting is becoming less a thing in this era.
That said, NUJP fountain pen is perhaps the most appropriate stationery release this year precisely due to what it actually stands for.
For the second time on this website, we explicitly editorialize in a post: Buy this set to support press freedom in the Philippines. Keep the pen in your rotation because it is actually reliable (and the ink colors are actually nice).