Bantay Kalikasan

Kuwento Ng Pagbangon: Aling Yoling's Story

Ana Junio
November 6, 2015

In the outskirts of Brgy. Basiao in Basey Samar lies Saob Cave, an unbelievable stone formation – a perfect place to unwind or to do something worthwhile. 

L-R: Aling Yoling shows the newly-harvested tikog grass. Aling Yoling is with some members of Basiao Native Weavers Association. Aling Yoling showcases a bag made of tikog.


In the outskirts of Brgy. Basiao in Basey Samar lies Saob Cave, an unbelievable stone formation – a perfect place to unwind or to do something worthwhile. 

For typical tourists, this is an attraction. But for the weavers of Brgy. Basiao, this is their office – a place where they get together to create a multitude of colors of banig products: bags, slippers, wallets and many others. All of the weavers were women. Saob Cave looked more interesting because of these women and their beautiful tikog creations. 

The women who were gathered in the cave are just one out of four associations of weavers in Basey. They proudly call themselves Basiao Native Weavers Association. Their leader was not hard to notice as she was the most welcoming among women. They call her Aling Yoling.

Julieta Abal, Aling Yoling’s complete name, cheerfully showed the process of transforming tikog grass into different banig products: mats, bags, wallets and slippers. She was wearing white shirt, black jeans, and the most beautiful accessory any person can have – her genuine smile.


Not losing that smile on her face, Aling Yoling recalled how her family survived the strongest storm surge Eastern Visayas faced in 2013. While she was thankful because no one died from her family and relatives, it was the enormity of the damage Yolanda brought which she would never forget. The storm surge brought massive flooding not only to Aling Yoling’s two-storey house, but also to the entire community. 

“Lumikas kami sa bahay ng pinsan namin dahil mas mataas ang bahay nila, tinanggal ng asawa ko isa-isa yung jalousie ng bintana namin para makalabas ang mga apo ko,” she reminisced. 

Several days after the typhoon, Aling Yoling went down to Basey town to ask for help and to look for food. Luckily, Governor Sharee Ann Tan, ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya and other organizations began giving out relief goods. 

But ABS-CBN did not stop at giving relief goods. Aling Yoling said that after several weeks, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALKFI) Chairman Gina Lopez visited their place together with Bantay Kalikasan officers. Aside from giving boats, ALKFI also provided capital for tikog weavers to start anew.


ALKFI shelled out Php800,000 for all the tikog weavers in 19 barangays of Basey, Samar. Bantay Kalikasan opted to give out the money in tranches to manage the money flow and to instill discipline among the tikog weaving associations. 

The Basiao Native Weavers Association headed by Aling Yoling received an initial amount worth Php6,000 from Bantay Kalikasan during the first quarter. 

In the past, tikog weavers only sell their products to Tacloban and the nearby markets and malls. But when they partner with ALKFI, they were introduced to bigger clients. In 2014, Toshiba ordered 3,500 eco-bags made of tikog. One thousand eco-bags were weaved by Aling Yoling’s association. This year, Toshiba is set to order for Christmas. A larger percentage of the sales also go to the weavers, unlike before when they only received 50%. 

Because their clients increased in number and their products became known nationally, the association’s savings ballooned from Php6,000 capital to Php35,000 net. The weavers have more money to buy materials for weaving as well as to maintain the tikog plantation. 

Aling Yoling also cheerfully shared her first trip to Manila last August 27 to attend training to further hone her weaving and leadership skills. The fact that their products have been well-received by the elite group not only in Manila, but also in other countries overwhelms her.  

“Malaking pasasalamat namin, ang association, lalo na kay Madam Gina [Lopez] at sa ABS-CBN Foundation,” she enthused.


Aling Yoling learned how to weave at the age of six. She learned it from her parents and she also shared the skill with her children. 

“Ang paggawa kasi ng banig dito sa lugar namin ang pangunahing hanapbuhay ng mga babae. Karamihan ng mga babae dito marunong gumawa ng banig. Kahit yung mga hindi taga-dito na nakakapag-asawa lang ng taga-dito natututo na rin” Aling Yoling explained.

Tikog weaving seemed like a simple method but it requires patience, consistency and creativity. Aling Yoling shared the usual six steps to create beautiful tikog products.

For those who want to try weaving, either for livelihood purposes or just for the heck of learning the skill, this might be of help:

1.    Harvest and Dry

“After we harvest the Tikog grass, we dry it under the sun for two days until it turns light brown.”

Tikog grass is abundant in Samar. Each weavers association owns a tikog plantation. In the case of Aling Yoling’s team, the plantation is right beside Saob Cave. The harvested grass will then be dried up through exposing to sunlight for two days.

2.    Bundle

“Bundle the tikog, probably two hundred strands in a bundle, and cut together so they will have the same length.  Then remove the flowers from the tikog grass.”

Once all dried up, it will be easier to remove the tiny flowers from the tikog grass. But bundle it first. It saves time to remove the flowers in a bundle.

3.    Color

“Then dyeing starts. Each strand will be dyed. We choose the colors we like.”

Yes. Each strand will be dyed. But the enjoyable part is one gets to choose which color. And from here one can already visualize the design he or she prefers.

4.    Dry again

“Let the colored tikog dry again under the sunlight.”

Sunlight is a helpful ingredient in creating tikog products. Aling Yoling said that the color looks better when sun-dried.

5.    Pound

“When it’s all dry, pound the strands until it flattens. We use bamboo to flatten the strand. This process is called paglagot.”

Paglagot is a Waray term which means to flatten. Tikog strands are easier to weave when they are flattened.

6.    Weave

“By this time, we already know the design we want.”

Weavers have visualized in their heads the design and patterns of their creations. A group of weavers can do embroidery to create more exceptional designs and patterns in the product. 


Aling Yoling also proudly declared that her two children finished College and are now professionals all because of tikog weaving. One graduated with the course of Banking and Finance while the other one is a high school teacher in Ormoc City.

At four in the afternoon, the women began keeping the materials and tikog products as they prepare to go home. Sun was about to set. Tomorrow would be another day. Life goes on for tikog weavers…