Written by Angelica Resol, B.S. in Chemical Engineering III.
Badiangan is a small town located in the Northern part of Iloilo. It is famous for its blacksmithing, “tahu” or ginger tea making, and “hablon” or loom wears making. Aside from these, farming is the major source of income of the citizens of Badiangan.
Badiangan is abundant in native bamboos, so by exploring Badiangan, it was not surprising to discover another art form which is bamboo weaving. It is an art of hand weaving bamboo slats into basket-like pattern or locally called as “Pagrara”. Bamboo weaving has been done for a long time and Iloilo is actually known for it. Bamboo weaving is not only an art that aims to create pleasing forms but it is actually an art that aims to be beneficial to the society especially to the farmers. Bamboo weaving products are actually essential for agriculture.
Unlike Blacksmithing and other livelihoods, Bamboo weaving is not a well-known livelihood in Badiangan despite of having abundant bamboo. Only few residents of Badiangan are knowledgeable on weaving bamboos. Others may be knowledgeable but they do not make use of it as a livelihood.
Back then, most farmers knew how to weave bamboos to make their own “amakan” or bamboo mats. Today, only few farmers or even local residents knew how to weave bamboo. Luckily, in Cabangaan, Badiangan, Obrero family makes woven bamboo for a living. They usually weave “amakan” or bamboo mats and sell them. On the other hand, in Guinawahan, Badiangan, an old farmer named Pedrito Calero also weaves bamboo, though he does not sell them.
Basically, weaving bamboos is not famous in Badiangan, Iloilo since it really did not start in Badiangan and few locals have inherited or were taught on how to make woven bamboos. Though, weaving bamboos is a skill when learned can be very useful since many products can be produced out of it. It only needs bamboo as a raw material, so basically weaving bamboos would be a great source of income.
Name: Eddelyn Molones Oberio
Age: 35 years old
Address: Cabangaaan, Badiangan, Iloilo
Bamboo weaving experience: 23 years
Mrs. Eddelyn Molones started weaving bamboos at a very young age of 12. She was taught to weave by her father, Benigno Malones. Bamboo weaving has been part of her life. Since she was young, she already witnessed how her parents weave and made it as their livelihood and source of income for a long period of time. It was said that bamboo weaving started even from their ancestors and was passed to their generation. Their family is not originally from Cabangaan, Badiangan Iloilo. They actually came from Bagsakan, Maasin, Iloilo where bamboo weaving and basket making are famous. It is also one of the main reasons why making “amakan” or bamboo mats, kararaw and other woven bamboo products was brought in Cabangaan, Badiangan, Iloilo. They actually transferred to Cabangaan to continue their livelihood especially because there are more bamboo sources in Cabangaan.
Name: Pedrito Calero
Address: Guinawahan, Badiangan, Iloilo
Bamboo weaving experience: 50 years
Mr. Calero also known as “Pedring” is actually a farmer but unlike the Obrero family, he weaves bamboo to make his own “amakan” for his own usage. He started weaving bamboos when he was young. Growing up in the province, he has no other things to do than to help in the farm or make his own toy. He had learned making woven balls from coconut leaves, and then when he grew up, he learned to weave bamboos to make bamboo mats or small baskets. He now weaves bamboo depending on the availability of the bamboos and also if he has enough time, since his main focus is in his farm.
Materials and Procedure
Native bamboo or Bambusoideae is the main raw material for making “amakan”, “kararaw”, baskets and other woven products. The bamboo is also one of the main reasons why Obrero family transferred in Cabangaan, Badiangan. There were more bamboo resources in Cabangaan, so, they decided to transfer.
Before weaving bamboo slats into basket-like pattern, the bamboos were first prepared. The bamboo is cut from the tree to get the culm locally the process is called “paggama”. Then the green part of the bamboo is removed and the rough edges are also smoothened. Then the bamboo culm is “sukdap” or sliced into sliver slates, the thickness ranges from 0.6mm to 1.0 mm. The sliver slates are then dried for almost three days. And lastly, the dried bamboo silver slates are weaved into basket-like pattern in different sizes. The procedure for “kararaw” and baskets are almost the same as the procedure for making bamboo mats. The difference is the form and shape. The bamboo mats are simpler compared to the “kararaw” and baskets, though the amount of bamboos needed in making bamboo mats is greater.
Usually the males are the ones who cut the bamboo into silver slates while the females are the ones who weave the bamboo. Mrs. Obrero weaves the bamboo sliver slates after her husband have sliced them.
One of the major products produced from woven bamboos is “amakan” or bamboo mats. The pattern is the same with the woven baskets which is called herringbone weaving pattern. They were usually made and utilized in farming since farmers usually use “amakan” or bamboo mats in drying “palay” or rice. It is the mainly reason why many farmers such as Mr. Pedring knew how to weave bamboos.
The price ranges from 1000 to 1200 pesos depending on the size. The bamboo mats could also be customized depending on the customer’s wants. And also the buyer may provide his or her own bamboo for lesser price, it means the only thing to be paid is the labor.
Aside from making “amakan” or weaved mats, Obrero family also make other weaved products such as “kararaw” and baskets. Each product is manually made and each product has its own purpose. “Amakan” or weaved mats are usually used for drying “palay” or rice, “kararaw” on the other hand is usually used for separating the “pasi” or rice hull from rice, it is also used as container of different products. Baskets are also used for placing crops such as fruits and vegetables from the farm.
Unlike the “amakan” that is commonly available, the basket and “kararaw” are only available when ordered. The price ranges from 200 to 300 pesos.
Obrero family actually came from Bagsakan, Maasin, Iloilo, they transferred in Cabangaan to have more bamboo resources. The problem now is that the bamboos around them are owned by others, so they cannot easily cut them and make woven products unless people who wants to order would provide their own bamboos.
It is actually a great idea to promote them in order to uplift their lives from hardships and poverty. They are actually considered as “buki” or someone who came from the mountains or someone who came from the other place. But since they are already residing in Cabangaan for around 10 years, they are already known by people residing in Cabangaan. Another problem is that their house is far from the road, so they are not very accessible. They really need help, and only few people in Badiangan makes woven bamboo for a living.
Due to modernization, these products are seldom recognized. The importance decreases so, the need for this also decreases. The products to be sold also decrease since the demand is low. It is a big help to develop and improve their products in order to be recognized and to provide income for them.