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Taste.Company | NAWA PH: T’boli Jewelry For a Cause

NAWA PH: T’boli Jewelry For a Cause

June 15, 2017 7:00 pm by Karla Ramos

For fashion connoisseurs, it is difficult to find a place where you can buy indigenous-inspired accessories that can both be locally-produced, nice looking, and uplift the indigenous people. Nawa PH proves that it doesn’t have to be tricky as they are one of the few local jewelry stores who manage to do all three with their jewelry products.

Nawa PH is a jewelry store that specializes in T’boli made and inspired jewelries and it all started with a desire for tribal bangles. One of the founders of Nawa, Miss Jopie, had previously been a makeup artist on the set of an indie film titled K’Na the Dreamweaver, which was set somewhere near the communities of the T’boli. They had met the brass casting community there and so they decided to buy tribal bangles from them. It was originally just supposed to be bangles for themselves, Miss Fatima and Miss Jopie, but as they have talked about these bangles on social media, requests and the demand for these products grew. And this is how Nawa was born.

Thinking about the next destination. ✈️ • credit to the photographer.

A post shared by Nawa Philippines (@nawa.ph) on

The founders of Nawa both believe in the preservation of cultural traditions, so the vision of the store centers around that. Fatima, one of the founders, mentions that they hope, through Nawa, they would be able to help keep the T’boli artisan traditions alive through a sustainable partnership with them. “We want to show people the craftsmanship that comes from the indigenous peoples we help,” says Miss Fatima. “But also, we want to be known as a company that actually made a difference in their lives, instead of doing it for purely self-enriching purposes.”

The venerable Apo Whang-Od Oggay, captured beautifully by @jakeverzosa.

A post shared by Nawa Philippines (@nawa.ph) on

Meeting the artisans involved in the making of their products surely reinforced this vision that they have for Nawa during the trip they went to recently to meet them at South Cotabato. These brass casters and weavers and their community are all described as good and simple people upon interacting with them and they saw for themselves how truly effortful the work is behind the making of their products.

After an uncomfortable motorbike ride to a remote area just to meet the weavers, it was a very humbling experience, narrates Miss Fatima. It was very humbling to know that the material for the packaging of their bangles, which is traditional T’boli woven malong, takes 72 hours of labor. This excludes the weeks that it takes to assemble the thread on the wooden apparatus that is used for creating the pattern of the woven malong packaging.

For the brass caster, initially, it was a worry for them that it may be difficult to keep up with the demands for the jewelries. But fortunately, the master brass caster has begun to take in apprentices to help keep up with the workload. This is a wonderful sign for the preservation of artisan traditions in T’boli.

Nawa, to help the community of the T’boli and to pursue their vision, has partnered up with the Lake Sebu School of Living Traditions which was an NGO based in South Cotabato. This NGO aims to preserve T’boli cultural traditions for the younger generations and they have partnered with them and gives them a portion of their profits.

Right now, Nawa only has one flagship bangle design in store as well as stacking rings, but as the year progresses they promise to bring forward more inimitable local and cultural designs and products for everyone interested. Their products are great for that wonderful boho look, perfect for this summer, that has a uniquely native taste to it. But, the products are versatile enough to look chic in whatever style you’re in the mood for. That’s what is great about their designs. It’s the subtlety of the local culture mixed with clean fashionable artistry meshed together into one simple accessory for any occasion.

So far, they are glad of the success and reception they have received from the market. They are very surprised at their success and wish for the continuing support of everyone for their future growth. For now, they want to continue to help the T’boli community through their jewelry store, Nawa.

Simple acts can lead to big things, and Nawa shows just that with their jewelries. With a strong core mindset and set of values and goals, Nawa will surely go far in the fashion scene. So, if you’re looking for your next set of accessories to go with that #OOTD, go for Nawa where you won’t only be helping them do good, you’d be looking good while doing so.

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  • Dear Taste Company,

    Hi! I’m Cecilia Nicolas, Program Researcher from I-Witness in GMA7.

    I have read your article about ‘NAWA PH: T’boli Jewelry for a Cause’.

    First, I would like to praise the writer of this article, Ms. Karla Ramos, as she impressively describe the skills and talent of our fellow Filipino tribe upon making creative-ethnic bangles; plus the photos shown completed the editorial so the readers like me was totally hooked and enjoyed reading while planning how to get one pair of those bangles! Good job! 

    With that, sakto!
    I am currently looking for a ‘good vibes’ story that can be pitch in our program. I believe NAWA PH staffs can directly talked T’boli jewellers. If yes, would you know if they have young kids who also know how to make bracelets too?

    Here’s my proposal (or supposed idea): “Mga bagong henerasyon ng T’boli, patuloy na lumilikha ng mga alahas na hango sa etnikong disenyo at kanilang kultura”.

    If you will allow, may I ask your good office for a direct contact number and person to talk with so I can further deepen my research about bangle making of T’bolis.

    This pitching story is for July episode of the show.

    Thank you.

    Warm regards,

    Program Researcher

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