Excerpt from Momar G. Visaya's AUGUST 16, 2019 article for the Asian Journal:
There are also coco coir planters, mother-of-pearl coasters, wooden jewelry, hand-woven palm clutches, tabletops and robes, bags and pillowcases using hand-loomed, handwoven fabrics from the northern Philippines.
Competing for space and attention are some small business owners like Paulo Manaid of Natibo, ATBP and Patrick & Nathalie Lim of Likha, who are among the 2,500 exhibitors from all 50 states and 85 countries and 400 product categories.
Manaid uses handwoven fabrics from Sagada and Cordillera for his range of products such as tote bags, pillowcases, pouches and even unisex robes and Yakan designs from Zamboanga for his accessories.
“I wanted vibrant colors and for the tote bags, silhouettes, which is good for city life,” he remarked.
He began in the industry by selling jewelry and eventually incorporated Filipino handicrafts. He embraced the shift and decided to do more with Filipino textiles and came up with the tote bags, which he said did really well when he sold in different markets in the city such as the Hester Street Fair and other pop up locations.
Manaid lamented the fact that based on his experience, older Filipinos in the United States don’t seem to support and appreciate the native weaves and fabrics from the Philippines and the hard work that have been put into it. Traditional weaving in the country, unfortunately, is also fast becoming a lost art.
“I realized that when I went around, and saw that most of the skillful weavers are elderly women,” he said. “Tapos parang walang appreciation from Filipinos here, yung mga Fil Ams na lumaki dito looking for their identities, yes, may appreciation from them.”
But that is not stopping him from still using these native, labor-intensive fabrics and working with artisan communities to provide sustainable income for them and hopefully, in the long run, preserve their craft skills.
Manaid approached ByHand Consulting and like Likha, he was placed under the Innovation Showcase pavilion in the Handmade Global Design section of NY NOW, along with other US-based global handmade companies new to the wholesale market.