By Liza Ilarde
@ilardeliza on Instagram
Photographed by Mau Aguasin
Styled by Luis Espiritu, Jr.
assisted by Grace Caison, Diane Lasam, Rudolph Leonor, and Bang Martinez
Hair and makeup by Baba Parma and Ria Aquino
Models: Anja-Vanessa Peter and Fernando Skinner
(both IM Agency)
[widgetkit id=”1224″ name=”Weaving Samar”]
In this day and age, it’s no longer surprising how social media can bring people together. When Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan wanted to promote her province’s banig industry and take it to another level, she lurked on Instagram, searching for the perfect partner. She spotted fashion columnist and veteran stylist Luis Espiritu’s work with the shoemakers of Liliw, Laguna and decided to reach out to him, hoping he could do the same for the banig. Due to scheduling conflicts on both sides, it took six months before they finally met!
The result is a new brand called Lara (which in Waray—Samar’s dialect—means “to weave”), which is launching tomorrow in Mega Fashion Hall. “We all know the banig products from Samar as typical souvenirs like tote bags, hats, and place mats,” said Luis. “Nothing wrong with that, but we want to be able to show that they are much more than that, that they can be fashion-forward accessories that can even be sold in the international market.”
Many of the banig makers’ livelihoods in Basey—the town where they are based—were destroyed during the devastating Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, so it became Gov. Tan’s mission to get them back on their feet, as well as to empower the women behind this industry. “After Yolanda, it was the mothers who took the initiative to rebuild Samar,” said Gov. Tan, citing their natural instincts to nurture and develop. “From their small earnings working on the banigs, they were able to feed their families. It also brought the communities together and they were able to uplift each other and rebuild their beloved Samar as one.”