Continuing Craftsmanship and Tradition!
The Mangyan peoples are tribal communities that inhabit Mindoro Island. In Oriental Mindoro, several ethno-linguistic groups are scattered throughout the island.
Mangyans are fond of wearing necklaces, bracelets and headbands made from beads. Apart from being decorative ornaments, they are often symbols of religion and ritual, a token of love, or payment for any offenses made.
The Mangyan women wear an indigo-dyed handwoven cloth known as Ramit and a lambung (blouse). A male Mangyan traditionally wears a loincloth known as ba-ag, with a balukas (shirt). Both the blouse and shirt are embroidered with their traditional motif of Pakudos. The Pakudos is a cross-shaped pattern that was used as a symbol and token to ward off evil spirits of bad omens. Today, the Pakudos is mostly considered a decoration and is popularly used as a design on bags made of buri (palm leaf). These bags are called the bay-ong.
Many generations back, the Ramit fabric were twined and woven with indigenous cotton seed materials. Nowadays, Ramit materials are made from cotton threads that Mangyans source from commercial and industrial producers of modern day garments: denims, in particular. Men, who are culturally prohibited to weave, support the women by gathering scrap materials of denims. These scrapped denims are separated strand by strand and knotted in unending threads. With their traditional backstrap looms, the Mangyan women weave these recycled threads in Ramit fabrics in various patterns and color combinations. The Ramit is also woven by women into belts, headbands and blankets.
Apart from weaving, Mangyans are also adept at forging knives and weaving baskets. Baskets are mainly made from buri palm leaf and adorned with split nito vine strips to create distinct Mangyan designs, such as the Pakudos.
Buon-buon baskets are distinctly Mangyan: with their hexagonal shapes in different diameters and sizes and overlaid with nito vine strips. Another kind of basket, the Bay-ong Sinuluyan, is always crafted with the Pakudos. The Bay-ong Sinuluyan has a square base and a round rim, and made with very fine strips of buri palm leaf and likewise decorated with strips of nito vine.
Other baskets are made using rattan and blackened bamboo. The many variations in the weaving of rattan and bamboo create many different designs of the baskets.
The Mangyan Hanunuo still uses the Pre-Spanish script and syllabary. Mangyan script have been declared as National Cultural Treasures in 1997 and was inscribed in the Memory of the World registers of UNESCO in 1999.
The siyaw-siyawan (letter opener) contains a poem that talks of missing a dear friend from far away.