After offering my short prayer at Basey's centuries-old church, I went down the stairs leading to the road. I asked the locals on how to get to the banig makers. As they say, Basey has the finest and most intricate weave of the banig having unique designs that is different from the usual mats made from other banig producing towns in the country. I won't leave the town without seeing a banig.
I took a padyak or a pedicab (5 pesos) and the driver brought me to Bacayo Mat Store. It is more of a souvenir shop where various products such as wallet, bags, wall decors and of course the mats are being sold. I asked the old lady where the mats are made? She told me that they are made at the homes of the locals and then sold to them which they made into finished products.
Then I went to the adjacent Delza's Native Products. Now, this is what I'm looking for!
At the ground floor, I saw mat embroiderers busy with their work. Upon asking, they told me that there are two processes in making the banig. First the "base mat" is weaved by the naglalara (weavers) and then it is sold to the tagaburda (embroiderer) to add the design and patterns on the mat before it is sold.
Embroidered mats are also made into other products such as bags, wallets, place mats, table runners, wall decors, among many others.
Beautifully and well-crafted banigs are sold depending on the design and size. Price ranges from as low as 300 to as much as 1,000 to 1,500 pesos.
At the 2nd floor, you'll find their showroom where different finished products made from banig are for sale. I bought 3 wallets for 100 pesos as pasalubong.
Every September, Basey celebrates Banigan-Kawayan Festival to showcase Basaynons' two primary sources of livelihood of – bamboo and mat weaving. The town is also a Guiness Book World of Records holder for longest mat in the world. Awesome!
So, if you happen to be in Tacloban City, visit Basey, Samar and be amazed with their colorful and well-crafted mats.
HOW TO GET TO BASEY, SAMAR
From Tacloban City Central Terminal, jeepneys, buses and commuter vans bound for Basey are available. Travel time is about 45 minutes, fare is around 25-30 pesos.
TigerAir Philippines flies daily to Tacloban City. Book now at www.tigerair.com.
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