We all have little things in our house to make it homey and comfortable. It can be pictures on the wall or a nice comfy rug.
In the Philippines, one of those things is the banig. The banig is a traditional handwoven mat. It’s usually made from dried palm leaves or reeds dyed in a variety of colors. These reeds are then woven into plain or intricate geometric patterns.
In past times, the banig was used mainly as a sitting and sleeping mat. Like in other Asian countries, pre-colonial Philippines homes didn’t have chairs or mattresses. When they were eating, doing chores or resting at home, they sat on a banig on the floor. Before they go to bed, they would roll out the banig they use for sleeping.
But even after most Filipinos stopped using the banig for its intended purpose, they keep finding ways to bring it back. Nowadays, you’ll see the banig used mainly as carpets, wall decoration, room dividers or picnic blankets. You’ll see a lot of banig in handicrafts like bags or decorative boxes. Below, you’ll see it being used as a headboard and focal point for a bedroom.
Even though most Filipinos use mattresses, you’ll still see some of them getting a banig and using it as a sleeping mat. They say it’s because a banig stays cool, even on hot, tropical nights.
Julia, my OFS, tells me that when they go camping on the beach, they’d bring a banig and put it over the sleeping bag because it’s more comfortable. Some use the banig as a mattress liner. You can even buy a mattress lined with banig if you don’t want the inconvenience of adjusting the banig when putting on a bedsheet.