16 Apr2007

Rattan Vines

by Marketman


In the course of my travels, I only tend to record unusual native materials when they almost serendipitously fall onto my lap. This was the case when I spotted a lady spinning rattan2abaca fiber by hand on a trip to Legaspi last year; and so I was thrilled when one early morning in Coron, as I was waiting roadside for a tricycle, a jeepney dropped off several bales of 12-18 foot young rattan poles/vines right in front of me. The vines are also referred to as yantok or tiklis locally. Rattan (Berchemia scandens) is actually a type of palm, but it is not a tree, rather a vine that grows on other trees, underbrush, fences, etc. It apparently takes its name from the Malaysian word rotan, and the vine is native to this part of the planet, with extensive supplies in Indonesia, along with some growth in Malaysia, the Philippines, etc. You see rattan used all the time in local furniture, baskets and other native handicrafts. But frankly, I don’t think the plant has ever been pointed out to me in the wild, nor have I seen it in the state it is photographed here. Actually, these young vines were already stripped of their skins and these are ready to be used in basket making, etc.

According to Wikipedia, the vine can grow to several hundred feet long and several inches in diameter. It thrives in rainforests and apparently our own supply of this rattan3fantastic natural material is dwindling as their natural habitats (forests) have been cut down. The material is extremely strong, durable, flexible and in some cases, quite resistant to flames, etc. It can be bent into shapes, used in furniture, baskets, etc. In fact, I saw many native baskets in day to day use in and around Coron at the market, transporting goods in jeepneys, on boats, etc. I didn’t find too many “touristy” rattan baskets in the town market for me to drag home, but rattan baskets were everywhere serving a very utilitarian purposes. It turns out the rattan vines that were dropped off in front of our hotel were destined for Manila, where they would be transformed into baskets for export.



  1. danney league says:

    Rattan is such a wonderful material. It is better to use rattan as furnitures than cutting trees and denude the forest. The problem with rattan is you cannot leave it out in the patio when it is raining. It get softer and loose its strength and beauty. I heard before that Liesel Sumilang Martinez (daughter of Amalia Fuentes) sells rattan looking furnitures but made of plastic. Where can I buy those rattan looking plastic furnitures?

    Apr 16, 2007 | 10:07 pm


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  3. Zita says:


    Where do you find the time to update your blog? =)

    Apr 16, 2007 | 10:12 pm

  4. Marvin says:

    Hi Market Man, found your blog through Dessert Comes First. You probably already know this, but rattan is also used in the Filipino Martial Arts for stickfighting. In addition to dabbling in Filipino food, I also train in Kali (Arnis) here in the U.S., so it’s funny how the two subjects merge here. Anyways, rattan in used in stickfighting not only for it’s toughness and resiliency, but also for safety as it does not shatter into splinters when it breaks, it merely shreds. If it did shatter, the possibility of splinters in the eyes and hands would be bad.

    Apr 17, 2007 | 1:39 am

  5. Maria Clara says:

    It is one of the greatest gift mature natures planted in our fertile land. The use of rattan is endless. I have seen paper trays, napkin holders, utility baskets to keep knick knacks with metal frame and a high end store where they use rattan in its raw phase in their display windows in tall jars and vases.

    Apr 17, 2007 | 3:34 am

  6. Marilou says:

    This is unrelated to your post but I thought you might like to know that Memories of Philippine Kitchens won the IACP 2007 Jane Grigson Award.

    Apr 17, 2007 | 7:32 am

  7. Marketman says:

    Marilou, YAHOO! A Filipino-ish cookbook that wins recognition/award!!! I noticed another Filipino based cookbook also made the finalist list. Maybe this is the tide turning towards more interest in Filipino cooking… I was also thrilled to see that James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor (recently featured on Marketmanila) also won…Bravo to all the winners! Marvin, actually, i had no idea the sticks used in arnis, etc. were made of rattan…but it makes sense! Danney, I am not sure where you can get the plastic versions…but I do know they are incredibly durable and weather resistant…

    Apr 17, 2007 | 8:55 am

  8. danney league says:

    Congratulations to the author and the people behind Memories of Philippine Kitchens. Thanks for the info on plastic rattan versions.

    Apr 17, 2007 | 9:52 am

  9. millet says:

    there are a few rattan plantations in the country now. i know there is supposed to be one somewhere in the vicinity of cagayan de oro. that should assure us that there will be ample supply for our tropical furniture and fixtures and arnis sticks, i hope.

    Apr 17, 2007 | 11:11 am

  10. sonia p, ner says:

    there are several furniture makers in cebu who manufacture beautiful rattan looking furniture with plastic material – making these furniture pieces all weather resistant. try the furniture trade fairs in manila – or ask a friend in cebu to source them for you. the furniture makers of pampanga may have them too.

    Apr 17, 2007 | 5:39 pm

  11. mrs m says:

    did you know that the rattan vine bears fruits as well? they look like balls about an inch in diameter and the skin is brownish that looks like scales and in the inside are usually three lobes of brown flesh each with a brown pit. the flesh is edible and very tart if unripe but pleasantly sweet when ripe. they come in clusters – lansones style. the ilocano name if i remember right is littuko. used to eat the fruit with salt and sili. how about a feature on this fruit, please MM? thanks a lot.

    Apr 18, 2007 | 3:25 am

  12. millet says:

    ay, yes…the fruits look and taste like ripe sampaloc. the clusters make good decorations….the baguio market almost always has bunches of rattan fruit for sale

    Apr 18, 2007 | 2:17 pm

  13. Reynaldo F. Nunag says:


    I’m interested in this material. Is there anyway where i can get the list of suppliers. kindly help me. My e-mail address is nunag20@yahoo.com


    Feb 2, 2008 | 2:14 pm

  14. Parham Castroverde says:

    For your information, m company is the exlusive markeing agent of rattan growers from Mindaano, and we can supply rattan poles. Just e-mail me for your complete address so we can make contact. I assure you we have sufficient supply of rattan for your needs, be it furnitures, etc.

    Mar 29, 2008 | 5:58 pm

  15. Elsa Hira says:

    Mr Parham Castroverde.
    We too are interested in Rattan products manufactured in our Cebu region. Specifically quality planter pots, planter baskets.Export quality. Maybe you can direct us to a quality manufacturer.

    Dec 21, 2008 | 6:19 pm

  16. Robert Alejandro says:

    Where in Manila either in Bulacan to buy one inch yantok?

    Feb 6, 2009 | 8:34 am

  17. fma supplier says:

    We are a supplier from the land where rattan thrives..we are interested in getting a wholesaler from abroad for arnis kali eskrima products like rattan arnis sticks with different very nice designs,plain sticks,wooden daggers,wooden kris,metal kris and etc.
    For thos who are interested contact me at +639056355618

    Sep 24, 2009 | 1:17 pm


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