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My family has always spent  Christmas and New Year holidays by the sea. This  year, we chose to celebrate in Puerto Galera ,Oriental Mindoro. Apart from its beautiful seas and landscape, it  is also easily accessible from Manila where we live.  A short commute allows us to enjoy the beaches of  this beautiful island in Southern Luzon.

My favourite holiday peve: husband and sons on New Years day by the beach (Talipanan Beach, Puerto Galera)

Talipanan Beach, Puerto Galera

This time, we decided to try another beach aside from the famous White Beach stretch (where we spent Christmas 5 years ago). My boys and I were booked in a bamboo house in a beachfront resort in Talipanan. 

Inside our simple and comfortable bamboo room

The Talipanan Beach is a good choice if you want more quiet and peace, less  parties and commerce that White Beach has plenty of. Well, anyway, it’s an easy tricycle  or habal-habal ride away  whenever you feel like White Beach-ing.

The “more peaceful and quiet”  Talipanan beach stretch of Puerto Galera

When we got to Talipanan, I learned  that the Mangyan Village was  in the same barangay where we stayed, just a short 15-minute leisure walk away from our resort. The village was built with the support of a philanthropist  to preserve the indigenous culture of this tribe. “Mangyan” is a collective name for the eight indigenous groups in Mindoro  (the 7th largest island in the Philippines), each with their own name,  language, script and set of customs .

With my boys, strolling through the nature-surrounded dirt road going to the Mangyan Village.

The Mangyan Village

The Iraya-Mangyans are one of the 8 indigenous groups of Oriental Mindoro who are known for their skill of nito-weaving, a unique art that celebrates their tradition and culture. Around 100 indigenous  Iraya-Mangyans live in this village  at the foot of Mount Malasimbo and should definitely be  visited, I thought.

This is the entrance arch that greeted the visitors of the village.​

Surrounded by nature! Riverside houses in the community made with basic nipa and bamboo.

Fresh and natural: Simple nipa house by the foot of Mt. Malasimbo.

Modernization Influence – spotted some nipa houses equipped with cable tv satellite dishes and a parked motorbike!

Nito Basketweaving

The nito is a forest vine abundant in their environment which they use to weave the traditional baskets, hats, trays and jars of different shapes and sizes. Their creations have also evolved to various modern home ornaments and fashionable accessories.

Trinkets and accessories covered containers.

Weaved items range from trays to jars, coin purses, dream catchers and back packs.

Weaving is one of their sources of income – their items are now being sold also to the lowlanders (in pop-up stores and in malls in Manila) and even exported to various countries.

Some of their handmade works on display for sale. Every stall space  is owned by different resident families / weaver. See the shop owners’ names written by the ceiling.

Their weaves show unique patterns  which reflect what  the weaver artists  see in their surrounding environment such as leaves, trees, flowers and animals. Most of the weavers are women, while the men participate in this activity by gathering materials in the forest, cutting and preparing the vines ready for weaving. I was told that it  takes about a week for a weaver to finish a fruit tray, a day to weave and design a pair of 4cm solid round earrings – that’s how much work and passion is put into one piece!

Her hands weaved these bangle bracelets I purchased! Super straight from the source…Can’t get any more personal than this!

She weaved these beautiful things! She promised me that she will pass on her weaving skills to her daughter someday.

It was a wonderful learning experience for us visiting their village. I enjoyed this unique shopping experience, too. I went to visit again the next day to buy more! For those who know me well, they know I am into Filipino handicrafts, furniture and fashion items. So It sure felt great to be there to appreciate their handwork first-hand and to support the preservation of this very beautiful traditional artistry that is said to be almost dying out.

Some of the fashion accessories I brought home. Love these dangling earings, headbands and bangles I got. Each piece is definitely unique!

My favourite purchase!   It took 15 days to weave this lovely big round sling bag!It’s big and sturdy enough to carry all my personal stuff everywhere.

It’s great that Puerto Galera has more than just their beautiful beaches and famous diving spots to offer. Strolling around the village situated nearby a falls by the foot of a mountain, witnessing the Iraya’s everyday life was an interesting and refreshing  break from our usual beach holiday. When you go to Puerto Galera, make sure to pay them a visit!

Beautiful weaves by the beautiful waves!!!

(written on May 2019)