Habi Batangan: From Nanay with Love
Oh, February! It’s that time of the year again when flowers, hearts and sweet something’s and nothing’s make us feel giddy or make some of us cringe. And since we’re all in a ‘love month’ mood, we searched the Google world (from the Book of Corinthians to Taylor Swift) for a list of love quotes to get you started. If you can’t find love this valentine season, we hope you can feel the love from the nanays of Habi Batangan, as we weave their story in our list below:
1. “Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Irish Ramos, co-founder of Habi Batangan, is a Filipina expat based in Doha, Qatar. While working overseas, Ramos enrolled in the Master of Development course offered by the University of the Philippines Open University (OPOU) system. She shares, “it was my personal goal to build a socially responsible enterprise as a way of giving back to the community”, and adds that she has always been a supporter of handmade products. They started building the concept during the early part of 2016 and finally launched the brand in August of the same year.
2. “I feel there is nothing more artistic than loving people.” – Vincent Van Gogh
It is in loving people and genuinely caring for them that we are able to find ways and means to create art. They aim to bring sustainable change in the lives of women from underprivileged weaving communities in rural Southern Luzon by promoting their scarves and other woven products. Ramos shares, “I think it’s an output of pure love, intention and artistry. Being a Batangueña myself, there’s no better way but to combine all of my goals but through HB”.
3. “Love is patient, love is kind…” – 1 Corinthians 13
This photo of nanay Ina says it all
4. “The art of love… is largely the art of persistence.” – Albert Ellis
Last month, we featured weavers from Ilocos and Cotabato, as well as enterprises that incorporate hand-woven textiles in clutches, bags, clothes, shoes and a lot more. From these stories, one narrative rings true: weaving is an art form that takes a lot of time and requires a higher level of patience and persistence. It is the same reason why the prices of hand-woven products are set at a certain price point to recognize the hard work of our local artisans. Show some love this month by supporting these local weaving enterprises!
5. For the married couples: “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” – Simone Signoret
Speaking of supporting our nanay weavers… Did you know that Habi Batangan’s scarves and shawls cater to both men and women? Select ‘infinity scarves’ or shawls from their collection as a gift for friends who are tying the knot this month (or this year). Include this quote by Signoret as a reminder for them not to forget about the little things that bind the relationship together. There you go, #relationshipgoals!
6. “Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you love.” – Rumi
The nanay weavers from Ibaan have been weaving for as long as they can remember. Nanay Ina is a 78-year old artisan who puts her heart into every thread she weaves. She learned weaving from her mother and grandmother and along with her eleven siblings, sold mosquito nets or ‘kulambo’ and beddings or ‘kumot’ in the city so they could sustain their family’s needs. During that time between the 1930s and ‘40s, a week’s worth of earnings was enough to buy them a sack of rice. Times have changed but she still continues the tradition of hand-weaving in Batangas.
7. “Work with love, it is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart.” – Kahlil Gibran
(L-R): Nanay Ina & Nanay Blessie doing what they do best
Nanay Blessie is one of the women from Ibaan who weaves from the heart. Like most women in their community, she regards this craft as the only way she knows how to earn a living. There were times in the past when the lack of support brought her closer to giving up. But like love, the heart knows what it wants so she has not been able to stop herself from weaving. She is a mother of 8 and she has been weaving from her humble home for over forty years now.
8. “I think the perfection of love is that it’s not perfect.” – Taylor Swift
Being fairly young in the social enterprise scene, the team behind Habi Batangan admits that their system isn’t perfect… yet. They hope to tie loose ends by supporting more local artisans and their families through training, facility development, and social programs in the coming years.
9. “We all have our own life to pursue, our kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep on believing.” – Louisa May Alcott
The story of Habi Batangan is a story of hope and second chances. Ramos shares that before their launch, the nanay weavers were close to using their handlooms as firewood for cooking. “Gusto na talaga nilang ipanggatong na lang yung handloom kasi hindi makabenta (they wanted to use their handlooms as firewood because they couldn’t sell their hand-woven products)”, she recalls. Today, their partner weavers are grateful for all the support that they have been receiving. They are able to make a living and continue doing what they’ve always done. And this time, they are weaving scarves that tell stories with a grateful heart.
10. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
Scarves are not just scarves, and just like love, it can be all sorts of things — a head cover, a mini blanket, a statement piece, and so on. More than a fashion accessory, scarves can be a ‘safety blanket’ and a protection for cold days. Rolled up, it can be a small pillow during long travels. Spread out, it can be a mini blanket for picnics at the beach or park. It’s a piece of comfort for the weary traveller and a companion for the lonely wanderer.
In a world filled with stories of distress, hate and exclusion, we hope that the stories we share with you in Taste.Company will remind us of the goodness that is ours to discover, support and live for. As Paul McCartney sings, “…in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”.
*All photos courtesy of Habi Batangan