The great thing about souvenirs is that culture is etched, woven, carved, or maybe dyed into vernacular materials, turning everyday items into must-have collectibles. When we say “vernacular” we mean those materials that are native to the locale.
So, when we see souvenirs made of vernacular materials, these souvenirs bear greater impact (to our hearts) because the origin of the raw materials used for the souvenirs came from the very place which we chose to visit, don’t you think?
Our third installment for the A Ba Ka of Philippine Souvenirs is Kawayan.
Ka for Kawayan.
Kawayan or bamboo (in English) is a versatile material that can be farmed from almost any locale in the Philippines. It can be used as a building material, furniture, ornaments, artworks, landscaping, and yes, you guessed it — for souvenirs.
Although bamboo as souvenirs can be seen in many locales around the world, bamboo souvenirs from the Philippines can be quite alluring. Why? If the art in every piece or the hard work and passion that goes into each item does not get you, variety will.
Yep, Filipinos have been turning bamboo into many items for centuries. When we say many, we mean M-A-N-Y! From accessories such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, to small items such as letter openers, bookmarks, and combs, the Filipinos seemed to have mastered working their way around bamboo.
Woven bamboo items are also a big hit. This includes fans, sleeping mats, bags, chair supports, and many other things.
One notable bamboo souvenir is the Kubing, (also a “Ka” souvenir), a traditional musical instrument in the Philippines.
The Kubing is a jaw harp that is played by firmly holding the mouthpiece against your lips while plucking the other end with your fingers. This jaw harp is carved in different shapes and with various artistic inscriptions. It is commonly around 25 cm in length and is made flat — ah! space-saver!
Whenever you are visiting Maguindanaoan areas, be sure to take home one, two, or maybe a dozen kubings. (Set one aside for me, will you?)