Alula – A fruit Basket from Tawi-Tawi, courtesy of Len Cabili


Mrs. MM was at the local atelier of Filip + Inna to choose a jacket from their line of their spectacular garments made from local fabrics, and Len Cabili graciously gave her this spectacular alula. Made from coconut leaves that are simply yet beautifully woven into a carrying vessel, we are told that it is used when harvesting mangosteen and other fruit in Tawi-Tawi or the southernmost parts of Mindanao. I tried to sling it over my shoulder but apparently I need an extra large size of it, it’s designed for the more petite harvesters, I suspect. :)


The way the basket is made is so primitive and yet so modern at the same time. It’s always amazing to see how beautiful and unique our traditional crafts are, yet also envision them in a more modern use and setting. Ms. Cabili has done a spectacular job of using local indigenous weaves and other designs and patterns for a very successful modern line of clothing and accessory designs that now grace some of the chicest locations on the planet… Mrs. MM found her stuff a couple of years ago and bought an early dress for our daughter, and we have admired Filip + Inna’s work over the years. See her instagram account for a glimpse into what you can do when you use indigenous inspiration for a thoroughly world-class line of clothing and accessories…

Thanks LC for the basket, now all I need is a mangosteen grove heavy with fruit so I can put it to good use. :)


15 Responses

  1. Hi MM, a good Monday to you. oh, I just loved this basket. might it be okay if I kind of “copy” this. Lots of palm fronds back home that could be put to use. Loved your old Bishop chair(?).

  2. Wow, Filipinos are really artistic.
    Years ago, in my visit to a public market, this lady vendor was casually weaving used drinking straws into a basket/bayong. She said she used to do it with Anahaw leaves, but she had none. And to let a slow-market sale time pass (palipas oras), she picked up used straws strewn along the street, wash n dry them, and started weaving.
    I really liked the product, so I asked her if I will buy her lots of new colorful straws, will she weave some bayong for me? She happily agreed and We’ve settled with the fee; my assistant bought packages of straws and gave it to her.
    I came back a week later, and she made 4 pieces of medium size bayong. I brought them with me here to Texas. Gave them as gifts to friends, I kept one, use them everywhere. I got so much compliment for it.

  3. How creative… about 15 years ago someone gifted me a colorful banig which I then just recklessly placed on our laundry room floor. Lately, now that I appreciate these kind of native products and creativity, I took it out just recently, gently cleaned it and placed it on our indoor florida room floor. And, as what EbbaBlue experienced, got numerous compliments. I also noticed and appreciated how intricate and pulido the way the banig was made and how well it lasted after all those years sitting on a laundry room. It’s now a treasured item in the house as treasured as our Moroccan carpet.

  4. In relation to what Edda Blue mentioned, there are seniors in the Southeast somewhere, I read this on FB, who are recycling plastic bags. They are crocheting them into mats for the homeless. Isn’t that something?!. Hmm, we must be a country, Philippines, that uses so much plastic. Although, some cities, like Mandaue, are starting to do away with them. There is a short video of how these plastics can affect our environment. I think this is sponsored by the City if Mandaue. I feel I should save it and show it around my town.

  5. Very ingenious, MM. And thanks for pointing us to Filip + Inna, gorgeous products.

    Diane, those plastic “bonsai” are eye-catching, no? Sometimes I see sidewalk vendors cut these while waiting for customers. When these first came out a few years ago, I was told prisoners made them as an income-generating project.

  6. Perhaps if we knew what happens to our plastic waste after we use them , we would do more recycling if not ban them all together if that is possible.

    The Pacific Ocean which holds more than half of the planet’s free water, also unfortunately holds a lot of the planet’s garbage. A combination of oceanic and atmospheric currents create garbage patches much of it is not biodegradable.

    The idea of the so called “garbage patch” conjures up images of an island of trash floating on the ocean. It is actually almost entirely made up of a concentration of tiny bits of plastic, called “microplastics.” Imagine a patch as an area which looks more like cloudy soup. This happens after the sun breaks down the plastics into these microbeads.

    Some of the larger plastic debris from The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, end up in atolls where birds mistake them for food and end up killing them. The microplastics which also absorb toxic substances along the way end up in the ocean floor where fish and other marine life also feed on them and eventually make it to our dinner tables. Scientists recently found out fish actually like microplastics and get “addicted” to them.

    For a perspective: “The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program has estimated that it would take 67 ships one year to clean up less than one percent of the North Pacific Ocean.”

    Avoiding plastic cups, bags, etc is not all. From face wash, beauty products we slather on our faces from Clinique, Dermalogica, Elizabeth Arden, Ella Bache, Neutrogena, Shiseido, etc, even toothpaste, search the ingredients list for plastic microbeads — often labeled as ‘polyethlene’. For garments, try to buy natural fibers like cotton. Plastic-based thread from polyester, acrylic and nylon also are considered microplastics. Their fibres make their way into stormwater and to the ocean.

    So there, just so we know.

  7. oh, they’re all over the streets of jolo and bongao at this time, usually filled with lanzones and mangosteen. they’re prettier when the leaves are still green, but I’ve had two blouses stained by them. i wish there was a way to preserve them, but the leaves tend to crumble when they’ve dried out (once i thought about having them sprayed with gold paint or even bronzed, like a baby’s first shoes!). or maybe part of its appeal is its ordinariness and its temporariness.

  8. Too bad these attractive baskets don’t last long and cannot be preserved. Still they are far far better than the very ordinary and non biodegradable plastic bags that clog drainage systems or end up in garbage patches in our oceans.

  9. My sister recently gifted me a Filip + Inna blouse from the Maarte fair. Quality linen and handmade stitching. A year ago, we had a pinukpok (abaca silk) barong made from a local designer in Sto Domingo, Albay and quality was great too. It is awesome that handmade fabrics are making a comeback and more people appreciate their value.

  10. Yey! Aren’t her designs just spectacular? Len is my first cousin :-) and if you didn’t know, her sister Lizzie is a longtime reader and fan of MarketManila!

  11. Hahaha, yes! Chris is my cousin and Len is my baby sister. I am a big fan and I have told my husband and two sons that if I ever saw you in person, I would muster the courage to go up to you for an autograph and a photo. I was at The Maarte Fair and hoped to see you or Mrs MM there.
    Len gave me two Alulas from her trip. She told me to regularly wipe them with coconut oil as a conditioner- the oil will soften the leaves and make them pliable (and less prone to breaking/tearing); and also make them have a nice sheen.



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