Day is probably the holiday that stirs up the most pride in a year. It is a
celebration of our country’s freedom, a celebration of all the heroes and patriots
who made it happen, and a day to remember and be thankful for the culture that
we were able to preserve, thanks to this freedom.
recent years, it’s nice to see the emergence of traditional Filipino elements
and materials once again—in clothes, in home décor, and in the regular things that
we use everyday. Woven placemats and bags are coming back, demand for rattan
baskets are going up, and the popularity of woven fabric from various
indigenous tribes and provincial groups are becoming more prevalent as face
masks and clothes. And the demand for these proudly Pinoy products are not just
rising locally; they’re even taking the international stage. Filipino designers
like Ito Kish, Kenneth Cobonpue, and Vito Selma are pushing the envelope in
terms of bringing Filipino materials and design to the global stage. How can we
forget the news of Brad Pitt’s Kenneth Cobonpue bed, made from buri and abaca?
On one side
of this cultural appropriation spectrum, you have the resurgence of traditional
and rich Filipino culture and its applications in international and higher end markets.
And on the other side of the spectrum, you have regular bilaos being hung in
walls and sold for almost P15,000 at Pottery Barn.
has become a tremendous issue in the global scene especially in the last years,
when designers and artists started to turn to non-mainstream cultures and tribes for
inspiration for their works. Many people have begun to point fingers and shake
their heads, saying it’s cultural misappropriation to turn people’s cultures
into everyday wearable or usable things. But, is it really a bad thing?
Screen Shot of Pottery Barn site with the round 42" Bamboo Wall Art selling for almost USD 300
cultures is what gave birth to many treasures like Japanese jeans, California maki,
or even the New York pizza. In fact, we daresay that sharing cultures is beautiful
and positive, giving more avenues for design inspiration, creating community in a world that could always use more education about the cultures that make up our global population.
But like all
things, cultural appropriation cannot be all-encompassing. There are things
that we should be wary of, when it comes to borrowing cultures.
How to err on the right side of designing an object or even your home with indigenous materials? One, we
would say, is to always pay homage and acknowledge the origins of ideas and
designs. Yakan fabrics, for example, are brightly colored fabrics made by the
Yakans from Basilan and Zamboanga. If you can give livelihood to the Yakans by sourcing
genuine fabrics from them, then that’s always better than copying their style
and having them tailored somewhere else. You can also treat their designs the
same way you would treat creative collaborations—give credit and consider royalties.
and sacred artifacts should always be treated with respect, not to be worn as accessories or hung as
trophies. There are many headdresses or materials, for example, that have significantly
sacred roots and uses in many indigenous tribes. In these cases, it’s never
okay to turn them into workaday clothes, accessories, or items, as respect to
the culture it came from.
culture in itself is very diverse. We have so many indigenous tribes with their
own aesthetics, ways of living, and raw materials. We also have designs and
items that hail back from olden times, which may have lost their significance and
use, but are making a comeback thanks to designers, brands, and small
businesses who are striving to bring them back to the mainstream.
Should we be
offended that bilaos are being sold for hundreds of dollars as “round bamboo
wall art”? Or that rattan baskets are being labeled as “boho chic” in
international markets? Honestly, they’re more funny than offensive. And creative, too!
Filipinos ARE creative. And we always find ways to make things work. Old capiz windows
and lanterns? Those would make some pretty chic planters. Those out-of-season bayongs
that our grandmas would carry to the market? Turn them into stylish banig bags!
people are willing to buy from local artisans and craftsmen, then that’s more
livelihood for Filipinos. If more people are willing to dress their homes in
fabrics from different parts of the country, then that’s a way towards sustainability: preserving many
dying arts and practices, not to mention making use of materials that are local, thereby reducing the use of gas and the carbon footprint it takes to procure an item for your home. If people would like to hang bilaos in their bedroom,
then so be it! That’s one less bilao waste in our dumpsters.
Independence Day, we have curated a list of our favorite local home and design pieces,
many of them handcrafted from different parts of the country. May these picks
inspire you to not just dress your homes and have something “local” in the name of Pinoy pride, but also to be reminded of the beauty of Filipino craftsmanship, the ingenuity of Filipino talent, dexterity of the local skilled worker and the diversity
of Filipino culture—and how we’re so lucky to be in the midst of it.
SWIPE LEFT OR RIGHT TO NAVIGATE BETWEEN PAGES
1 / 27
Solihiya Lap Desk in Pine Wood by Pinas Sadya
Pinas Sadya specializes in clothing, lifestyle, and home items that infuse uniquely Filipino raw materials like solihiya and abaca. For your work-from-home needs, check out their chic but sturdy laptop desk made from pine wood. Made by skilled wood and solihiya craftsmen from Marikina, these lap desks double as a laptop work desk and a bed tray.
Utilizing again the beauty and nostalgic effect of the solihiya pattern, this bread box is perfect for storing your bread and pastries. Available in white and brown finish, each bread box is handmade by craftsmen from Rizal.
For your everyday cooking and eating needs, check out this collaboration by Filip + Inna and Bijin Craft. The palayok is handmade by Bijin Craft, and then complimented by a dikin or carrier made from fabric scraps by Filip + Inna. This way, the scraps are given a second life instead of thrown away.
Yakan fabric originates from the Yakan tribes in Basilan and Zamboanga, and comes in different colorful geometric patterns. These fabrics have many applications, such as these throw pillows and planters that make for elegant statement pieces in your home.
Buri is one of the largest and most common palm found in the Philippines and its fibers can be dyed and woven into these beautiful lanterns that would look good inside or outside the home. Available in white, black, and brown, these buri lanterns are made by crafters in Quezon Province, ready to be plugged and lighted.
Handmade Dulce Abaca Paper by Frankie & Friends General Store
Handmade paper makes for thoughtful stationery that can be used for painting, gift wrapping, or just writing special occasion letters to friends and family. These stationaries are made from cooked abaca pulp that support the livelihood of local artisans from Laguna.
Banig weaving is a traditional practice and art by the Tagolwanen tribe women of Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Each weave is a unique, one-of-a-kind design that speaks of the Tagolwanen’s identity and technical precision, many of them inspired by natural elements. These giant round banigs make for nice décor and area rugs that adds a pop of color to every space.
Putal is a traditional basket made from the same material as the banig woven by the Bukidnon-Tagoloanen Weavers. These large baskets made their debut at the The Design Commune of Manila Fame in 2019 and make for beautiful planters or decorative baskets in any home.
Zarah Juan started with locally made slippers, before eventually expanding her offerings to bags, accessories, and home pieces. Her products are known not just for their quality and use of very Filipino raw materials and elements, but also the collaboration and amalgamation of Filipino talent that goes into each piece. This terno planter, for example, was made by four different groups of artisans. The body was hand-carved and hand-painted by Paete artisans. The bottom lining was handwoven by the artisans of Abra. The basket itself is made by wicker weavers of Cavite City. And then everything else was assembled by Bulacan artisans.
Store your vegetables, fruits, or other pantry items in this beautifully woven basket made by Cavite cane weavers, Abra weavers, and Bulacan artisans. The body is made from wicker and comes with an inabel lining, perfect for kitchen storage.
Kenneth Cobonpue is one of the most distinguished Filipino designers who has brought Filipino talent and artistry on the global stage. Apart from his jaw-dropping furniture collections and designs, he would come out with humble pieces like this Isole cheese board, which was inspired by tiny island formations floating on a vast blue ocean. Perfect for creating ethnic or Filipino-themed table settings and arrangements.
In Filipino, “binhi” translates to seed. Inspired by this, this Ito Kish masterpiece draws from the organic form of a binhi to create this 3-piece seating for indoor or outdoor use. For indoor use, the seats are made from aluminium tubing frames and then wrapped in rattan.
The Basilisa collection is composed of furniture pieces that combine geometric forms with the intricate lattice of solihiya, woven from rattan. There are five different weaves used to represent the different regions of the archipelago in the collection and for this chair, visual tension and texture is created by mixing different weaves and patterns of solihiya. The solihiya is then infused in a frame made from kiln-dried mahogany and rattan.
When it comes to contemporary Philippine pottery, Mia Casal’s name is certainly one of the standouts in the industry. Her iconic barnacle mugs are some of the most sough-after tableware, adding a certain spark to your morning or afternoon coffee sessions. Mia’s barnacle mugs can be pre-ordered directly from her or sourced from one of her many resellers.
Do you remember those folding chairs you’d see in your grandparents’ home? Lifestyle store Halo Halo Home is bringing these back but with a colorful twist. The Easy Chairs are made from recycled banig weaves and steel, which are given new life for your next picnic or lounging at home.
For their line of bamboo items, Halo Halo Home collaborated with fine furniture crafts brand E. Murio Manila. One of the fruits of this collaboration is this chic server tray made from high-quality bamboo and Halo Halo’s recycled banig weaves. Use to serve drinks and snacks at the living room, garden area, or even at the pool.
Abre Linea was born after Typhoon Haiyan wrecked havoc and destruction in Leyte and Samar. With the desire to rebuild the morale and livelihood of the communities in Eastern Samar, local artisans and weavers in the province were tapped to transform ticog grass and buri palm leaves into home and lifestyle pieces. One of their most popular items are these banig, which can be used for picnics and lounging around.
Inabel is probably one of the most popular and accessible fabrics here in the metro, which comes from the Ilocos region. It comes from the Ilocano word “abel,” which means “weave” so inabel can be interpreted to mean any kind of woven fabric. Pinilian is a kind of weave from up north that creates designs that float on the thread to give that three-dimensional feel and quality. Abel Philippines has a number of designs and colors available for their pinilian throw pillow covers to suit your room or space.
Woven is a social enterprise who works with local artisans from Samar, Basilan, and Benguet to create products for the modern Filipino. One of their most popular collections is the Abre, which is a Waray word for “open.” It features laptop sleeves woven from ticog leaves and inlaid with dyed buri strips to create colorful and eye-catching patterns.
For tablet users and owners, they also have the Suklob collection which means “something that envelops and protects.” Protect your tablets and gadgets with these sleek sleeves made from genuine local leather and handwoven banig.
Maison Love Marie was born during the pandemic when Heart Evangelista stayed in Sorsogon, Bicol and discovered the many beautiful products the region has to offer. Inspired to help the locals and promote the region’s craftsmanship, she created Maison Love Marie—her own personal curation of local handmade items. The Seagrass Ottoman is woven from seagrass and made to double as an ottoman or side table depending on the occasion.
Pulido by Charming Baldemor Studios is all about elevating the Filipino wood carving industry through a grassroots approach that uplifts both emerging and seasoned wood artisans throughout the country. It was established back in 1997 at Paete, Laguna, what is known as the Carving Capital of the Philippines. This Plorera piece is a hand-turned, hand-carved creation that gives tribute to the artistry of the old artisans of Maguindanao. It’s made of reclaimed wood and inspired by ethnic pattern designs from Maguindanao.
Need to store your stuff in decorative canisters? This trio of handcrafted wooden organizers will do the job well. Also made from upcycled wood, these canisters showcase the talent of Paete carvers through the elegant “braid” design that requires accuracy and consistency in the manner of carving.
Maison Métisse specializes in ethical and sustainable products that celebrate handcrafted pieces from all across the Philippines. To minimize waste from their clothing production, they created this one-of-a-kind textile art that features different natural and hand dyed sustainable textiles such as the pineapple leather, pineapple cotton textile, pure Philippine silk, and handwoven sugarcane fabric.