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The A Ba Ka of Philippine Souvenirs: Wa for Walis

Souvenirs can be items that bear the unwritten trademark of a place. It’s a little bit like remembering Japan when you see sushi or Russia when you see fur hats.

Nearing the finish line for our A Ba Ka of the Philippine Souvenirs series, let’s look at Walis.

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Wa for Walis

It doesn’t matter where you are in the Philippines, as long as you are in one of the handicraft areas or dry goods part of the market, you are sure to find a store selling some walis.

In English, “walis”  translates to “broom.” Yes, the thing we use to sweep the floor is a souvenir.

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The popularity of brooms as souvenirs from the Philippines can be seen throughout social media and documented in many news reports.

There are two types of common brooms in the Philippines. One is made of a bundle of sturdy palm leaf ribs, known to locals as “walis ting-ting,” and the other is a fan-shaped soft broom made of common reed, known as “walis tambo.” The latter makes a perfect souvenir.

Yes, you can get brooms from supermarkets but brooms from the Philippines have a certain special flair to it– and I am not just talking about the unicorn bristles!

So flair: what do I mean by flair? Well, although walis tambo is available in any grocery store, Philippine markets have the soft broom with a woven inscription on its handle, which reads “Welcome to” on one side and “Baguio City!” on the other side. Yes, the craftsmen also took the time to weave a greeting for the tourist. 

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Piling up on flair, These Welcome to Baguio City brooms are not exclusively sold in Baguio City. Many other places all over the Philippines sell these brooms.

And, while the greeting welcomes Baguio City tourists, most of the walis tambo sold in Baguio City and other cities in the country are made in Sablan, another municipality in Benguet, Philippines.

It can be a real challenge to bring home a broom with its bristles fanned out. I mean, can you imagine the 6-hour bus trip? Don’t worry, some stores sell the smaller versions of the souvenir!



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