When I last visited Zamboanga en route to Tawi-Tawi, I had a chance again to visit the Yakan Village in Upper Calarian, Zamboanga. The village is located just across the popular La Vista del Mar resort which can be reached by a jeep or a tricycle around 30-45 minutes from the city center of Zamboanga. Nothing much has changed since my last visit in 2007. The place still holds various yakan weaving souvenirs which is a famous draw both for local and foreign tourist.
A Yakan is one of the 13 Moro groups in the Philippines, are originally settling in Basilan until political unrest got hold of the island and they were forced to move to the mainland of Zamboanga. Traditionally, Yakans wear colorful hand woven clothes but nowadays, they wear modern clothing and only wear their weaving garbs on special occasions.
Seeing their weaving never fails to mesmerize. With fibers made from used pinapple plants and abacca as basic material, and herbal extracts from leaves, tree barks and roots as dyes, Yakans would weave colorful patterns and intricate designs. Even if there are some similarities on the basic pattern, each one is uniquely made. That’s whay a square foot of weaving could fetch a hefty price of Php 400 to Php 1500 depending on the intricacy.
Yakan weaving are inspired by patterns, like the Palipattang inspired by the rainbow and a Bunga-sama inspired by the skin patterns of a Python. From here they play around with combination of colors.
The Yakans and their weaving is another indigenous local treasure and it’s great to see them still thriving even at this time. I have really high regard for their local craft that I bought almost a thousand worth of their products not only for their quality but also to help them out on their living.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.