THE town of Basey in Samar province is known for its natural beauty. The town is home to some of the world’s wondrous caverns, subterranean rivers, waterfalls, unique limestone formations and its intricately woven mats or “banigs.”
The word “banig” has become synonymous with Basey. Its beautiful designs and varied colors attract the hundreds of visitors to the municipality who buy the product as their favorite “pasalubong”.
I HAVE written this piece in 2011, but let me rewrite this here now.
IN the early centuries, Basey is nothing but swampy-grassy coastal municipality and a famous hideaway of the Pulahanes that fought the invading foreign forces.
But in today’s trend, local residents are now a proud suppliers and manufacturers of world-class products made of indigenous materials such as wild grass.
With the help of some local entrepreneurs, and of course, some internationally-based organizations and government agencies, the town is now being recognized in the global map in terms of mat-weaving particularly of handcrafting native materials such as mats turning them into a classic bags and slippers.
THE mat industry in Basey, Samar, Philippines begun in the 50’s, and from a humble beginning, it grown impressively and gained recognition as one of the country’s premier local industry.
During the old times, mats or locally known as “banig” are being used only as floor covering by the natives to sleep on. But several years after, it is now being used for so many purposes such as for decorations, clothing and accessories.
Banig which is made of wild grass (Tikog) is being transformed into innovations of decorative mats, wall hangs, slippers, sandals, frames, boxes, wallets, bags, among other out-of-the-box items.
It is primarily hand-woven in Basey, a small rustic town situated in the southwestern part of Samar province, a place located beside Tacloban City – the economic center stage of Eastern Visayas region.
The town of Basey is known for its famous show caves inside the Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park, Kawayan-Banigan Festival and being a holder itself of Guinness World Record of longest mat-weaved “banig.”