Iraya women of Puerto Galera preserve traditions thru weaving

By Nikka Garriga

PUERTO GALERA, ORIENTAL MINDORO —For the Iraya tribe, weaving is an intricate part of preserving their tradition in the modern times.

The tribe is part of the Mangyan Village located at Sitio Talipanan in the town of Aninuan. The village sits on a three--hectare property built by the Ayala Foundation.

From only a few houses before, the community has grown and now has its own elementary school and a medical facility. Lisa, one of the locals, narrates having first gone to the site about 20 years ago.

“This used to be just a forest area and our houses didn’t look like these,” she says in the vernacular, referring to the well-structured nipa huts that are now home to over 300 Iraya families.

Upon entering the village, you will see an array of various handwoven products like table displays, baskets and jars in different forms and sizes, showing the intricate handicraft designs of the Iraya weavers.

“We make these products out of nito vines that can be found abundant around the village,” Lisa says.

Handweaving nito vines is a primary source of livelihood among the Mangyans here. Most of the parents teach their children weaving at an early age, making it a full-time family business.

“First, we collect the baging (nito vines). We clean and dry them under the sun, then we start putting them together. The fastest we can make a batch is about a week,” Lisa explains.

Small baskets costs P50 each while bigger items can cost as much as P750. Sometimes, they also get custom orders from, which can cost up to P5,000 depending on the design.

“These products are really a big help for us because it provides for our daily needs and for the studies of the children,” she adds.

The Mangyan Village reveals a quiet charm and a warm hospitality, opening its doors to guests who wish to have a glimpse of their simple life made unique with their rich culture and traditions.

How to get there:

From Manila, take a bus going to Batangas Pier via the CALABARZON Expressway. Buses leave daily from 8am onwards. Upon arrival at Batangas Pier, go to Terminal 3 (for outrigger ferries) or Terminal 2 (for RORO ferry) and buy a ticket going to Puerto Galera. The first ferry trip to Puerto Galera is 7:30am and every hour thereafter; one or two ferries depart until 4:30p.m., which is usually the last trip to Puerto Galera.

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