Vela Manila: Weaving Smiles and Hopes
A social enterprise is a revenue-generating business that uses its profits in achieving social outcomes such as humanitarian and/or environmental causes, to provide jobs to people in need, protect natural resources, improve the quality of life of poor communities, and much more. This venture takes perseverance, hard work and creativity to be successful, but the rewards—measured in terms of social impact—can be substantial.
In the Philippines, the social enterprise sector is vibrant and growing.Vela Manila is one of the social enterprises in the Philippines that has been making significant change in the country. It promotes Filipino culture and tradition through high-end indigenous products such as shoes, bags and handwoven garments. The enterprise started as a college project and was inspired from the fascination for native materials along with the desire to make it modern and renowned. The idea that guides the enterprise is to preserve the old tradition of weaving while combining contemporary designs.
Designs by Vela Manila
Weaving is a century-old art form, and livelihood at the same time, but it remains largely a cottage industry for many. However, Vela Manila aims to help in saving the dying Filipino tradition and culture of weaving through supporting the Filipino weavers.
Vela Manila sells exquisite local handwoven pieces that embrace both the elements of tradition and modernity. It makes sure to highlight the ingenuity of all the weaves while carefully designing all the products to be curated. More importantly, it provides sustainable employment in rural communities that show potential skills in traditional weaving.
The community behind the designs
The handwoven indigenous weaves are created by the artisans all over the Philippines.The T’nalak weave by T’boli Tribe, Ramit by the Mangyan Tribe and Abaca Pinangabol by the Daraghuyan Tribe are just a few of the local unique fabric being used by Vela Manila. Vela Manila has been a design collaborator of Anthill Fabric Gallery, a fabrics, arts and crafts social enterprise in Cebu which works with local producers to preserve Filipino traditional fabric production techniques and produce high-quality goods for sale.
Bags made by weavers
Vela Manila does not only support indigenous communities but also the craftsmen in Marikina who are responsible for assembling and making some of their products. Marikina is notable for it’s quality craftsmanship especially in shoes and bags.
Just this April, Vela Manila visited the Daraghuyan Tribe of Bukidnon and collaborated with them the backpack capsule called “Box”. Inspired by the Daraghuyan Community’s vibrant and life-giving culture, the backpack capsule is a limited run of three styles highlighting the handwoven Abaca Pinangabol fabric. The backpacks, crafted by Marikina craftsmen, features an eccentric combination of sleek, streamlined structures and the earthy intricate textures of the weave is dyed in vibrant hues.
Perfect for gifts
Vela Manila believes that it is the artistry and the craftsmanship of the weavers and craftsmen which make their products authentic, making all the local pieces speak for itself. They hope to tell stories of Filipino tradition and modernity as they grow not just in the local scene but also, globally. These are stories that resound the skills of the Filipino weavers and craftsmen and of the indigenous communities. Vela Manila is hoping for future collaborations with artists and brands that share the same advocacy.
Social enterprises that focus on providing social services just like Vela Manila, need to be developed in the country. It offers a sustainable approach, addressing a wide range of societal challenges, and contributes to making the society more prosperous, inclusive and secure.