Love and courtship, part of Boli­nao’s weav­ing tra­di­tion

Manila Bulletin - - Luzon News - By JOJO RIÑOZA WEAV­ING RO­MANCE — For women, there’s more to the weav­ing tra­di­tion of Boli­nao. It is also a man’s way to her heart. (Jojo Riñoza)

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)

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