Turning ‘Banig’ Into Symbol Of Patriotism

Whenever Filipinos see a banig (native hand-woven mat), chances are, they would instantly conjure up images of themselves having a relaxing sleep.

With the country’s 114th Independence Day celebration fast approaching, leading real estate developer Ayala Land, Inc. sought to associate banig with something other than nap time – transforming the hand-woven wonders into the ultimate symbol of Philippine patriotism.

What symbol? The Philippine flag, of course. After all, somebody would’ve gotten killed waving such flag over a century ago.

Friday night, Ayala Land, in partnership with the Makati City government and the Makati Commercial Estate Association, Inc. (MACEA) unveiled the largest hand-woven Philippine flag at the Ayala Triangle Garden. It is the first and only Philippine flag made out of banig.

Mounted horizontally at the heart of the Ayala Triangle Garden, the imposing masterpiece was crafted by artisans in Basey, Samar, said Ayala Land Assistant Vice President Mel Ignacio.

“It is 50 square meters and is made of tikog grass, which is the material used to make banig. The weaving was done by 25 people and they worked on it in a little over a month,” Ignacio said.

Incidentally, the old practice of tikog-weaving still flourishes in the old town of Basey even as banig took on other forms and uses such as bags, throw pillows, framed decors, and furniture matting. Souvenir-hunters and tourists eat it up, too.

“The flag symbolizes our independence. We wanted to do something to symbolize our ingenuity and culture. Our ancestors have been using it for a long time. The banig has also proven to be important in the lives of many people,” cited Ignacio.

Indeed, banig is symbolic of Filipino culture and identity.

The beautiful stories behind these hand-woven mats are further showcased in a Banig Exhibit, which complements the huge flag display and was put up in with the help of the Filipino Heritage Festival.

The banig flag may be the most meaningful Philippine flag-inspired, large-scale installation yet at the Ayala Triangle Garden.

Ignacio said that last year’s display, which was also unveiled during Independence Day celebration, featured a “3-D flag” while the previous year saw a Philippine flag image formed from plants.

“Maybe the school children can come here. We want them to be proud about their heritage and see the flag,” Ignacio said.

For his part, Ayala Land, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Aquino, said: “Ayala Land is committed to continue working with key stakeholders, led by the local government of Makati City, to ensure the growth and development of Makati as it evolves beyond its borders into the country’s leading city for business, lifestyle, entertainment and culture.”

The banig flag, Ignacio said, would be on display for up to a month. Hopefully, the message of this powerful symbolism would linger. 🙄

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