The Yakan Weavers of Basilan

If there was a place that I never thought I would get to visit, it would be Basilan. And yet I have been there twice now. Both times, I arrived with trepidation – never have I feared a place so much to lose sleep in the days leading up to my departure (at a certain point, I considered canceling my trip altogether). But there were things I needed to do, stuff I needed to see and experience for myself.

I will write at length about my excursions. For now, I leave you with these photos of the Yakan weavers, the reason for my visit. They call their woven cloth tennun and to weave about 20 meters takes one to two months, depending on the speed of the weaver. Most of them weave outdoors, leaving them exposed to the elements. Should rain pour, all work must be halted.

You see families where both father and mother work the tennun, side by side. It brings food to their tables and sends their children to school. The kids weave as early as 6 or 7 years old and the teenagers take on the craft as their own because it provides them with pocket money.

I will write more about them in the coming days. What you need to know is that these weavers are talented and hardworking; I was happy to see so many of them creating the designs by hand. They definitely deserve so much more than what they are earning right now. 

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