Our next stop was at Binatuan Creations where you’ll be able to buy an assortment of hand-made bags, wallets, and other items.
Using traditional weaving methods, each bag is patiently created by mothers, out-of-school youths, and volunteer students who would like to earn a little extra money. So anything that tourists buy here goes to helping them.
When our van stopped right in front of Binatuan Creations, I was surprised because I haven’t seen this type of traditional weaving since I was a kid visiting the province, like Cebu all those years ago.
Thanks to machines that can mass produce products and countries that practice unfair trade by artificially keeping their currencies undervalued, traditional industries, like weaving have taken a big hit.
So it was with much delight that I was still able to see people with such crafting skill creating quality hand-made products in the twenty-first century.
Even better, the entire place, from the manufacturing area to the selling one is made out of wood and done in the more traditional way of the Bahay Kubo or Nipa Hut.
[Yup, not cement or an overabundance of modern materials here.]
Products they Make
There is quite a list of products that are handmade and sole here. They include the following:
You’ll also find a few products made out of the Cashew nut, which happens to be a major product of Palawan. The material of the bags, mats and the rest are made with local fibers, mostly with grass. Before being used, the grass is dyed and cut to very thin strips before being used in weaving.
[It’s just amazing as to what they can do with these raw materials.]
Try it Out
The first thought some people may have is that the products aren’t dirt cheap, but I’d say the prices are fair. One needs to keep in mind that these are handcrafted items so they cost a little bit more than the high volume items made with industrial machines. Now if you think making something is easy as, I suggest trying it out yourself.
Yup, in Binatuan Creations you get the opportunity to sit at the very table where people weave these wonderful products. And while they make it look easy, it is far from it.
For one, you need excellent eye-hand-foot coordination as you threat the wooden needled back and forth as you work the pedals. Second, you need to have a great amount of concentration because if you make a mistake, that means you’ll need to pluck that errant strand out. And third, you need to keep the overall design in mind because every single fiber that is threaded affects the overall look and color of the product.
We tried weaving during our visit, and I’ll tell you, what they do is nothing short of amazing. After giving things a try I will say that the prices they charge aren’t even close to what they should be. Sure, you’ll find dirt cheap prices die machine made products, but they won’t be hand-made nor will they support an entire community like Binatuan Creations does.
And in case you are wondering why women and children dominate the place, it’s because they tend to have smaller hands. And while you might find the occasional guy weaving but I don’t think his buddies are going to let his soft, slender, gentle hands go without regular ribbing.
[Yup, it’s a guy thing people!]
Like a traditional Bahay Kubo, guests are to leave their shoes and slippers at the door before entering.
One inside, a traditional floor made of bamboo flexes so the floor doesn’t feel harsh to the feet. Not only is it softer than cement or stone, it is also cool to the feet.
As you walk around, you find a multitude of products scattered about the place. Some will be stacked on shelves, other piled on tables, and others will be hanging from posts and ceilings.
In addition to the things created in Binatuan Creations, you’ll also find other non-traditional items on sale to give guests a wider variety to choose from.
I suggest spending a little time here as there are a lot of items tucked away in corners to choose from. If you are in a hurry, you’re bound to miss something.
Just because the place looks traditional doesn’t mean you won’t find modern equipment here. There are security cameras scattered around the place to help prevent any thefts. And there are electric fans to help keep people cool as they browse through the items
Smoking is strictly prohibited within the grounds. Those of you who wish to smoke will need to do so out on the street.
Weaving is a dying tradition thanks to large scale machines that can churn out hundreds of thousands of products in a given run.
So I was glad to be able to visit a place that still continues to use the old traditional methods while helping a community in the process.
Well, time for next adventure. I hope you can join us as we continue with our city tour of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.
Till next time, keep your cameras ready, your eyes peeled and your minds open. You never know where your next adventure will take you!
|Address||Employees Village, Santa Monica, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines 5300|
|Telephone||+63 (48) 433-7630 and +63 (48) 434-1097|
|Mobile||+63 (920) 542-8548|