BANIG or mats are a must in the days before cheap mattresses. Used as traditional bed cover, the banig is porous, cool and smooth and is made from leaves of the screwpine palm (local terms are pandan or rombon). The Badjao and Samal mat is the most intricate and fine-grained in the country. Preparation takes one week, with at least 2 cycles of boiling, stick-beating, drawing into strips, sun-bleaching and finally dying. Weaving consumes another two to five weeks.
The Philippines claims to produce the handsomest mat in Asia. Perhaps the most renowned are those from the Samal weavers of the island of Laminusa, Tawi-Tawi. One of them has been recently recognized as a National Folk Artist. Reputed to be even finer mats are in the highly inaccessible Unggus Matata in the Tandubas island also of Tawi-Tawi. But the weavers in this island only make mats for themselves and do not sell them (alas!).
photo taken in a mat weaving demonstration by Samal weavers in a business conferencein Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines