Handcrafted in Basey, Samar in The Philippines.
The town of Basey in the Philippines is known for its colourful and unique woven handicrafts, made with tikog stems. Tikog stems are gathered and bleached under the sun for several days to dry out. The artisans use them to make intricate mats, bags, pouches, storage boxes and other crafts.
It saddens us that these artisans are being exploited for their heritage skills. Their crafts are sold at a low price, where the traders make the profit. "We take home an average of P600 or less", shares the artisan. With so much time and effort dedicated to their crafts, they deserve a lot more!
In our human history, the artisans were the only type of manufacturing that existed. Their skill sets, knowledge and expertise would then be passed on to the people often within the same premises where they lived which has led to communities of different heritage skills—and they have been terribly exploited due to their circumstances. Due to the low and unfair wages they receive, it is a struggle for them to make a living and therefore it is becoming a dying heritage.
In our vision to preserve their heritage by uniting these communities, we work together with our social enterprise partner Woven. The long-standing mission is to continue pouring economic benefits into the local communities, through its weaving and embroidery industry and uplift the standard of living for the artisans.
Now, we are working with more than 40 banig weavers of Basey. 70% of our profits goes to the social enterprise partner who ensure that our artisans are paid 3X more. Our social enterprise partner coordinate seminars and workshops for the community development. We promote their heritage education through fostering the growth of young artists.
Design plays a major role in empowering the crafts and the artisans, both as an enabler and a value adder. "We design for the community. We don’t just provide employment and the market access to weavers; we rig the industry in their favor", shares Trish, the Founder of Woven. Now, it is refreshing to see how banig creation is being reintroduced to the current generation, creating interest for the future aspiring masters.
We hope that one day we will be able to build a community centre for the artisans—a place to reflect diverse regional and socio-cultural profiles of the country, a base for capacity building and skill up gradation of artisans.