In surfing, there is an unwritten code of conduct, “Surf instructors can only teach surfing in their local spot.” This is practiced in every surf spot I know here in the Philippines, especially in Borongan, Mati and Liwa. In fact, this is one of my first lessons when I got interested in surfing 3 years ago. They call it “localism.”
Little did I know that this should be applied to my everyday life too- in my travels and in my life as a whole. This is one of my realizations after visiting the T’boli Dream Weavers of Lake Sebu last was how hard it is to craft something which you don’t know if this would be bought.
I would zero in in their local woven fabric called the T’nalak. The T’nalak fabric is a traditional cloth used by the T’boli tribe. It is made of abaca fiber and dyed with red and black.
I have learned that a 5-meter woven cloth is finished after 3-4 months of hard intricate work. The work is done by atleast 5 families (farmers, dyers, processing, designer and weavers). It’s not easy because they don’t have a standard design since they can only make this cloth after the master weaver dreams of a particular design.
“T’boli women believe that the patterns are bestowed on them through either their own dreams, those from their ancestors or ones granted specially through “Fu Dalu,” the spirit of the abaca.”
I tell you, I got goosebumps when I learned about this. I said to myself, WTH, and I can earned this money in a week. A 5-meter T’nalak cloth is sold for Php4,000 or more, depending on the design and the weaver.
I tried doing the math (yes, I love mathematicians too):
Let’s say they sold a 5-meter T’nalak cloth for Php4,000.
Php4,000 divided by 5 families = Php800
Php800 divided by 3 months = Php 266.66/month
Php 266.66/month = Earning per family.
How the heck a family would survive on that income?
Of course, T’nalak weaving is not their only source of income but I can’t justify getting Php266 after working for 3 months. Php266 is my budget for having coffee with friends.
So after the tour guide’s discussion of this, I bought a piece of T’nalak cloth and promised to go back and buy some more. This is the most expensive travel memento I bought up-to-date and I don’t mind paying more because in doing so, I support local tourism and local businesses.
And it doesn’t end there. I would go back there and document more. It is also but fitting to do a lifestyle check.
And these will be my guidelines starting today:
I WILL BUY LOCAL.
I would avoid buying imported products.
I WILL EAT LOCAL.
Local eateries, carinderias, small-scale restaurants and small food businesses. If you would invite me for lunch or dinner, please remember this. Less of fastfoods too. This also goes to my addiction to coffee. I would avoid Starbucks and CBTL and patronize kapeng barako and Arabica from Benguet and Kalinga.
I WILL ENJOY LOCAL.
This means more traveling in the country than abroad for me.
Yes, I know this is hard. But I want to effect change right now. Will you join me in starting the LOCAL TREND? I think It’s time!
A fitting end would be a quotation from Elie Wiesel:
“The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.”
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Localism describes a range of political philosophies which prioritize the local. Generally, localism supports local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and promotion of local history, local culture and local identity. –Wikipedia
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This is my piece for this Month’s Pinoy Travel Blogger’s BLOG CARNIVAL entitled, “Memorable Travel Souvenirs, Objects and Mementoes,” hosted by Jun Baris of Galang Pusa. You can check the previous carnivals by clicking the logo on the right side: