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.”
Mat-weaving is the primary source of livelihood in Basey. It has been handed down from generation to generation, each generation introduce new innovations and methods of weaving.
After Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the town in 2013, wherein 200 people reportedly killed in Basey, a handful of humanitarian groups came down to Basey and extend assistance to the natives especially by providing cash assistance, technical know-how, machines, as well as how to market the products.
To date, various people organizations composed of mat-weavers were established in almost all villages in Basey. Local stores offering banig products were also now visible in the town.
Most often than not, visiting tourists “stop and shop” at a newly-opened Banig Souvenir Shop in New San Agustin bringing home native items or banig-inspired handicrafts. The store is located along the way to Sohoton Cave in Rawis.
In the succeeding blog entry, we will introduce new survival stories, new products and new innovations from our home town.
Keep track on us!