Cheers to the ancient art of weaving happiness in every bag
By Elmira Judy Aguilar-Cinco
Tacloban – After super typhoon Haiyan in 2013, women weavers of the province of Samar in eastern Philippines, have produced bags with bright and colorful face designs reflecting their tenacity to withstand challenges. These weavers, locally known as “paraglaras” use tikog, a grass with triangular stem that grows in swampy areas. They are harvested, dried, colored, and woven into bags with faces of women splashed with colors defying all seasons.
Veering away from the commonly known geometric bag designs was a calculated move and a brilliant marketing strategy to open new possibilities to women wanting to try something novel.
In my search for handwoven native bags that embody beauty and practicability, I met the women weavers in Samar. I turned my passion to support them into a business venture keeping in mind that every fashionable native bag has to be affordable.
The women I work with create their own designs. Although open to suggestions, I fully trust their artistic creativity since their eye for the beautiful has been a tradition. All I had to say was to weave happiness in every bag.
The “paraglaras” were taught at an early age by women in their families. Elda Carillo, 54 years old, a third generation weaver, was trained by her mother at a young age. She has been weaving wonderful creations since 1971.
“My mother has taught me to weave when I was still seven years old. She too was taught by my grandmother. We are a family of women weavers.”
The tradition of weaving had long been practiced among generations of women. They pay close attention to detail and are encouraged to choose which color combinations are best to bring life to the face designs. Weaving together unites women and shows how tradition keeps artistic juices collectively alive.
For distinction, the local weavers and I, are focused on producing bags with colorful woven faces of women. The bags are handy and spacious and take three days to make. It is a handcrafted labor of love.
One day, when you decide to have your own tikog face bag, remember that a woman’s hand, trained in the Waray tradition of weaving, made that possible.
(Check out those bags from the Facebook page of Manang Juday.)
About the author: Judy Elmira Aguilar Cinco is an international entrepreneur based in Samar. She runs her own Kumon School and engages with local weavers for her tikog tote bags sold internationally.)