When we arrived in Zamboanga, we already had a horrible experience with a tricycle driver. He did not drop us directly to our hotel and overcharged us for our fare. Worse, my friend’s luggage got broken when he unloaded it from his tricycle. We don’t know if it was accidentally (or intentionally) dropped, because the handle got dismantled completely. He left us walking in the muddy streets of the city, looking for our hotel and tugging along a broken luggage.
Initially, we were scared and disappointed. But we did not want to ruin our moods with this unfortunate experience. At the back of my mind, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Zamboanga that I don’t want to put stereotypes to its people. Good thing, I randomly prodded Cath to go with me to Yakan village after our afternoon nap. Our short encounter with the Yakans somewhat changed our perception about Zamboangenos.
How to Get to Yakan Village
After our traumatic experience with the tricycle driver at the airport, we resolved to avoid riding tricycles for the meantime. Instead, we booked a Grab Taxi (yes they are available in Zamboanga, but Grab Cars are not) and paid Php 500 for the fare because it was the same taxi that we rode going to Alavar. Yes, it’s that far from the commercial district of Zamboanga, around 7 kilometers. Even my friends who are from Zamboanga haven’t visited yet this place due to distance.
If you are not taking the cab, you may take the PUJs to the Zamboanga Golf Course and the Yakan weaving village, from the public market look for a jeepney with the signage “Ayala” or “Sinunuc”. You may also take the vans for hire that pass by the area and just tell the driver where you will be getting off.
About the Yakans
The Yakans are the first inhabitants of the Basilan province and are considered to be one of the finest weavers in the Philippines. According to one of the Yakans I’ve met, they use the “huli” and “sulip” type of thread for their weaving.
Most of the designs are colorful geometric patterns. The standard time to finish a meter of cloth is about one week, depending on the design details. Yakans weave table runners, place mats, coasters, wallets and bags, just to name a few.
One of the coasters that we bought was made by a young Yakan. Amazingly, her mother told us that it was just by memory that she designed this.
What to see in the Yakan Village
The small village is dotted with stores selling different Yakan products. Aside from woven fabrics and apparel, they also sell accessories, souvenirs, and antiques. To see the actual weaving of the Yakans, you should climb up the small stairs then go to the open area on the left. Just ask the other Yakan sellers.
Tennun by Yakan
Tennun by Yakan is owned by Daisy Ballati, a Yakan I met in the village. Since she was young, she already knew how to weave. It’s a long-time business of their family. She ventured into the business five years ago, when she was invited in the Pakaradjaan Festival in Isabela City. Her Facebook page Tennun by Yakan displays some of their Yakan products. She accepts orders outside Mindanao. For orders or inquiries, you may reach her at 09066771227.
Here are some of her products and their prices:
Table runners 500
Clucts wallet 150
Eco bag 150
Coin purse 20-50
What to do in the Yakan Village
- Talk with the Yakans. Ask questions about their products, their history, their livelihood. They are nice and warm to answer your questions. Appreciate their work.
- Do not haggle. As much as possible, do not ask for cheaper prices. You see, it takes pure labor of love and craftsmanship to create these products.
- Do not leave the village without buying anything. If only I had a big budget, I’ll buy more of their products. Support their livelihood by buying from them. Some of these cannot be found in Canelar Barter Trade. The quality of the hand-made products will last for years, that is guaranteed.
- Ask permission when taking photos. Since we do not know their cultural values, it is better to always practice courtesy when asking for favors so as not to intrude their privacy.
Thankful for the Experience
Thanks to Ate Daisy and her companions, for allowing me and Cath to know more about your livelihood. It was a pleasant experience that made us forget our dismay about the driver who fooled us.
Yakans are kind and accommodating. It is true that these are the tribes with closely-knit families.
Yakan Weaving Village
Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City