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 abaca 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 donâ€™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 fantastic 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 didnâ€™t find too many â€œtouristyâ€ 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.