The beautiful nito baskets of the Iraya-Mangyans
It takes a certain skill and patience to weave and work on a nito basket, uniquely designed by the Iraya-Mangyans of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.
Taking dried nito grass and forest vines, the women Iraya-Mangyans labor over a woven basket that is not a little over 22 inches in height for about three months. It’s a meticulous and patient process of weaving, taking the thick, dried forest vines and slowly weaving the sturdy nito grass through it in a circular motion. Their nito baskets carry intricate woven patterns that some say are unique to them.
In the Iraya-Mangyan Village of Talipanan, Oriental Mindoro, one can see women huddled together under the hut early in the morning, painstakingly weaving their baskets. For many, it’s a practice that they have known all their lives.
“Since we could remember, there had always been basket weaving in our culture,” shared Lita Garcia, 26, while weaving her basket. She added that since she could remember, she had been weaving baskets all her life.
“It was our parents who taught us how to weave,” said Myrna Tulyo, 30, adding that it was a practice that was handed down from generation to generation.
In the Iraya-Mangya village, normally it would be women who would spend the day weaving baskets while the men take care of farming and other chores. But these days, as demands for the beautiful Iraya-Mangyan baskets have increased and basket weaving is gradually becoming a viable source of income for the group, even men are now seen weaving baskets.
Baskets woven at the Iraya-Mangyan village in Talipanan are sold in Metro Manila though tourists visiting the village may also purchase the baskets locally. Sales of the baskets go directly to the families who weave them. At the village, weavers have little showrooms to display their woven goods, which include baskets of various sizes, plates, bracelets, and even little key chains.
The Iraya-Mangyan Village is one of Ayala Foundation’s programs under Sustainable Livelihood. For the past years, in partnership with the Sisters of Charity of St. Anne, the foundation has committed to providing education and skills training for the indigenous Iraya-Mangyan community.
You can visit the Iraya-Mangyan Village at the foot of Mt. Malasimbo, at Sitio Talipanan, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.
These beautiful Iraya-Mangyan baskets are also available at the third floor of Greenbelt 5, the Ayala Museum Shop, and Glorietta 1.
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