Love and courtship, part of Bolinao’s weaving tradition
BOLINAO, Pangasinan — While singing, writing poetry or even fetching water can win a woman’s hand in old rural Philippines, in this town a man courting a lady must – before all else – literally weave his way to her heart.
To this day, much pride goes into the tradition of weaving mats from buri or raffia leaves in Bolinao.
Weaving like religion
On Santiago Island, northeast coast of Bolinao, rests a small village called Salud, a peaceful barangay where most of its residents are dedicated to weaving the best buri mats,also known as the “Bolinao banig.”
Here, almost every resident knows how to weave like it’s a religion for them. Children are taught to weave and even those who married out- of-towners are obliged, if not encouraged, to learn the skill of weaving.
Love begins with mats
Old folks even tell stories of love while weaving mats. They say every bachelor here who intends to court a woman must know first how to process the buri leaves for weaving. “Dapat marunong kang maghagod ng dahon (You must know how to prepare the leaves for weaving),” they added.
Village official Julius Cacho says when a man wishes to court a lady, he must help her in weaving while the woman’s mother keeps a watchful eye. “You must learn to prepare the fiber for weaving before the woman’s mother will give her permission for you to court her daughter. Kailangan marunong kang humagod ng mga dahon na ginagami t sa paggawa ng banig kung gusto mong manligaw,” Cacho says.
Pride in weaving
Santiago Island is one of the oldest communities in Pangasinan that dates back in the Hispanic era and the unique Bolinao banig- making had survived changing times.
Every week during the market day, woven products from the village are delivered to the town center where it is being sold. A single-sized mat ranges from 150 to 400, depending on the size. Woven bags and coin purses range from 5 to 100 apiece. Traders also buy in volumes and market it in other towns. Some are also made to order for export.
BOLINAO WEAVERS — Women of all ages in Barangay Salud, Santiago Island in Bolinao are busy with their hands at the barangay center which serves as a work area for ‘buri’ mat weavers. (Jojo Riñoza)