The A Ba Ka of Philippine Souvenirs: A for Abaniko


For the next few days, we will be going through the various colorful, unique, and culture-rich souvenirs that will make you feel as if you took a piece of the sights from your latest Philippine travels back home with you.

A for Abaniko

This photo captures the creativity woven into every abaniko, a handmade fan made from dried, dyed, and woven abaniko or anahaw leaves.

Abaniko fans are traditionally made with woven dried abaniko (blackberry lily) leaves. Most of the time, abaniko fans are shaped like hearts with a handle. In some places in the Philippines, anahaw leaves are being used in crafting these hand-held fans. 

Displays from souvenir shops often offer both plain white or light-brownish fans and colorful ones with bright dyed strands of dried abaniko or anahaw woven into the fan.

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…and yes, the abaniko remains to be a product of both Filipino tradition and fine craftsmanship.

Although you can see abaniko fans for sale in many marketplaces and souvenir shops all over the Philippines, Camarines Sur’s Canaman specializes in making these fans. As part of the OTOP or One Town, One Product Program, production of the abaniko in Canaman has produced over a hundred jobs, as well. 

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Some of the families in the town of Canaman even supply to non-government groups in Legaspi and Naga. One of Makati’s major Filipino souvenir outlets also gets its fine-crafted abaniko supplies from Canaman.

Recently, with help from the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), Canaman has started weaving non-biodegradable waste into “abaniko” fans. This has undoubtedly raised awareness of waste segregation in the area. Not to mention, it adds a little more color too!

“Take home a few pieces”, they say.

The abaniko as a souvenir is practical, lightweight, useful, and affordable. It is no wonder why tourists would always take a bunch of the hand-crafted woven fans home with them. As some tourists would probably keep one piece for their souvenir collection, others would choose the abaniko as a “coming home” present (or “pasalubong”, as Filipinos call it) for their friends and families.

READ NEXT: 10 Filipino Street Foods That You Need to Try

There are other Philippine souvenirs that start with the first letter of the alphabet, including jars of “alamang” (shrimp paste) from Ilocos and “anting-anting” or “agimat” (amulet) from Quiapo. What other “A” souvenirs can you think of?



3 thoughts on “The A Ba Ka of Philippine Souvenirs: A for Abaniko

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