The last time we saw a wall-bound “bilao” was in a panciteria, displayed in different sizes to illustrate the amounts of pansit Malabon each is able to contain. Until, of course, we saw one very recently on the Pottery Barn website, acting like some artwork or tribal piece of exotica, completing the look of a virginal white bedroom with beige and white decor.
The suddenly fabulous “bilao” is identified in the online store as Round 42” Bamboo Wall Art, and it’s priced at 299 US dollars, or approximately Php 14,300. The site says it’s “handcrafted from bamboo.” Could the bamboo used in this Pottery Barn version be of higher quality? Watered with Evian, fed with arugula, raised in conflict-free areas and able to freely play with other bamboos?
Having been exposed to the bilao all our lives—in pansitans, during office parties, and when our lolas used to make “tahip” our bigas before cooking—we had to look closely and check if indeed it is the bilao we grew up with: the weaves are the same, the round handle looks no different from the one that framed our last Amber merienda, even the little holes between the bamboo strips are there!
“Round out your accent wall with this impressive woven art piece,” says the website writeup. “Reminiscent of open-air markets selling baskets, with a slightly concave shape and shallow rim, it adds warmth, texture and eclectic style wherever it’s hung.” How can one argue with that?
And yet Pinoy netizens who’ve posted about this new Pottery Barn merchandise can’t get over the fact someone actually thought our humble “bilao” would make for a wall decor without “P1,150 Good for 25 to 30 Persons” written on it. It’s funny but also, as Kris Aquino would say, nakaka-proud!
When you scroll down the site, it's clear the American home furnishing company is trying to make the whole “native-looking serving tray as wall art” happen, lining up a few choices of woven variations in its gallery. And why not? The handcrafted-handmade trend has been big for a number of years now, it was only a matter of time before they got to the bilao.
We’re pretty sure Pinoys won’t shell out P15K for the Pottery Barn wall art—for that price, we could have 13 bilaos, each one filled with noodles topped with nilagang itlog slices and chicharon. (Also, nasa Lazada 'yan. A 22-inch bilao in Lazada only sells for P163. Meanwhile, at Amazon.com, it retails for a little more than 4 US dollars.) The question is: will the rest of the world buy? Surely Pottery Barn knows a thing or two about how to sell their products. But one thing’s for sure, one can no longer accuse the “bilao” as natutulog sa pansitan.