The night before I flew back to the US, my sister and I swapped rucksacks. She gave me one, colored turquoise blue, made by Sagada Weaving, for the Swiss Gear that I had brought with me. I had been using hers during my stay in Manila, which she picked up on a previous trip to the Mountain Province. To make up for its smaller size, my mom gave me a bayong (a basket of palm leaves) from Bicol as extra handcarry for other native articles I had acquired: t’nalak fabric from the T’boli of Southern Mindanao, Tribu sandals and slippers, and bamboo rainsticks as gifts for my cousins I would visit in San Francisco. T’nalak is a type of ikat weaving where red-and-black patterns are tie-dyed onto the warp threads of abaca before these are woven. The women who create the intricate patterns, which are of spiritual significance to the T’boli, accomplish these, every time, from memory, gauging where to apply the resist of beeswax by their fingers.
At the lines in the airport, I followed a matronly woman to the X-ray scanners. She was fabulously coiffed like Madame Marcos, and bundled up in copious fur like her pet cat. I worried at how she would manage to pass through the machines. I shoved my stuff in, through the eye of the needle, and it promptly regurgitated them at the other side. Thus outfitted with my trusty bayong, toting my worldly possessions, I journeyed to America like a regular probinsiyano. (more…)