Bayongciaga: Handwoven bags with heart and soul

Published March 25, 2021, 8:45 PM

by Jerico Villamonte

Bayongciaga Pandan Premium line (Photo by Martin Bautista)

For five years now, proudly Pinoy accessory brand Bayongciaga has been putting a twist on the usual palengke bayong—turning the every day carryall into a contemporary, classy handbag. Javier “Jav” Villarruel and his partner Jov made a business out of the love for local fashionable goods. In the process, the duo has helped provide more opportunities for local weaving communities and artisans alike.

Bayongciaga has collaborated with weavers from different communities to come up with new designs, using various materials from synthetic textiles and leathers to native fabrications. For its efforts, the brand was featured in several TV shows and newspapers, which helped further build the community of Bayongciaga.

Although the pandemic situation has taken its toll on the brand, Bayongciaga was able to turnaround from numerous cancellations and merchandise movement slowdown back in 2020. Today, the brand thrives in sales as a result of its strong online presence and more grassroots marketing approach with new product varieties and selections.

LUISA Classic Pandan long handle with zipper and lining. 

Carry one, carry all

During the height of the national lockdown, Bayongciaga was able to do collaboration projects with several groups to help medical fronliners with donation drives including meals, face masks, face shields, and bags. The brand’s luxe and basic bags are made of woven nylon which can be easily sanitized—making it very usable for frontliners.

Bayongciaga also did a collaboration for a fundraising project with Making A Kinship with the Indigenous (MAKI Project) Inc. and SALIG PH, a youth led non-profit org, which benefited 54 kids of an indigenous group in Bataan for their school supplies and slippers.

Bag charms made out of empty Nespresso capsules

Recycling materials also rests at the heart of Bayongciaga’s design ethos. The brand carries a line of bag accessories designed and made by the Negros Volunteers for Change Foundation, turning empty Nespresso capsules into bag charms. The proceeds of the sales are used to support programs of the foundation.

A carefully curated carryall

With an eye for detail, Bayongciaga designers are very meticulous and hands-on when it comes to their products. The Bayongciaga Bamboo handbag are woven in Palawan and then shipped to its quarters in Makati for checking. After which, the designers have to acquire leather and hardware from Marikina, taking time to choose quality leather with the right color and thickness. All these are then brought to their shop in Bataan for crafting and assembly. Also, Jav and Jov then work with a group of seamstresses in Payatas for the drawstring bags. Then everything comes together again in the Makati showroom for final checking.

Bayongciaga production (Photo by Martin Bautista)

A brighter, more vibrant future

Jav shares that the brand has started venturing into expanding its merchandise come later this year. “We have started venturing already into packaging for retail clients and even giveaways for corporate clients. This really takes time to fully develop given the logistics involved, but we all try to have as much fun as we can,” he says. “The real key here is the expertise, hard work, and commitment of the weavers, whom we call our heroes in our community. Of course, each customer, whether retail or corporate, is also truly a hero because with every Bayongciaga they support, they allow us to sustain all these and help us provide sustainable livelihood to the weavers, leather crafters, and many more.”

Get your hands on your own Bayongciaga through Shopee and Lazada.