One cannot speak of the Bicol region without any mention of abaca, a natural fiber considered the strongest in the world. Located at the Southern part of Luzon, Bicol is a goldmine of creative and ingenious handcrafted pieces made from the said versatile crop.
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It is no wonder why it is in this part of the country where entrepreneur Anne Hernandez decided to establish Weavemanila, a business which makes use of indigenous materials to create high quality, handmade abaca rugs and carpets. “Weavemanila’s first priority is the weavers,” Hernandez says. “It’s important to us that our weavers are always paid on time and that they are well compensated for their hard work.”
A long-time exhibitor of Manila FAME, one of the most popular lifestyle and design trade shows in the country, Weavemanila has showcased several notable pieces that put abaca into the spotlight throughout the years. It became a favorite among local designers and homeowners, counting Empire Designs Philippines, exhibitor Artesania Furniture, and Manila FAME design consultant Nix Alañon as their clients.
Paris and beyond
From Weavemanila’s 2,000-sqm production and storage facility, weavers churn out a variety of rugs and carpets, from thick-woven area rugs to flat-woven wall-to-wall carpeting. There are four natural colors to choose from, exhibiting the organic beauty of abaca in any application.
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Marilyn Monroe #weavemanila cheers to #handmade #abaca #carpet for not being boring! This is one of the most challenging yet awesome piece we have had made for our art weaves! #homedecor #interiordesign #luxury #handmade #art
Bespoke color selections of abaca are also available, which can be made into a placemat or any unique design. The more intricate weaves can be used to make a modern carpet, for instance, a Marilyn Monroe-inspired Artweave. Stripes and patterns also become a possibility, thanks to innovative weaving processes.
With its take on the natural beauty of abaca and the centuries-old tradition of weaving in local communities, Weavemanila has also caught the eye of the international market. In 2017, it became part of Design Philippines in the Kindred: A Design Collective exhibit at the prestigious MAISON et Objet Paris in France. Design firms from the United States, Europe, Australia, as well as other countries around Asia likewise form its international clientele.
After only a few years, Weavemanila has accomplished what it set out to do, and more. Not only has it kept the weaving tradition alive among local craftsmen, it has also put the spotlight on a proudly Filipino product, with the global market as its audience. More importantly, Weavemanila has become instrumental in uplifting the lives of its weavers whose families are finally brought out of the cycle of poverty.