Philippines - Arts & Crafts

The island country of the Philippines located in the Malay Archipelago has a diverse geography and the small islands are house to many tribes. It is a beautiful country, no doubt with beautiful beaches, lofty mountains, volcanoes, colorful corals and the blessing of a lush green rainforest. The people here are friendly and make their livelihood through various occupations among which one deserves special mention. It is the one which involves the Arts and Crafts in Philippines.

Every country has its own special Arts and Craft. So do Philippines have. Every piece of art or craft produced bears the identity of the country and makes a fine example of the artistic and creative faculties of the people. The cultivation of art or craft requires years of dedication and practice and is the outcome of hard work and, more than that, love for the art on the part of the artisans. Excellence in Arts and Crafts in a particular country comes from within and requires some technical knowledge along with a sound knowledge of the country’s history and culture as many a time the replicas of famous events are portrayed through the medium of arts and crafts.

The concept of Arts and Crafts is related to the making of objects with the artist’s own hands, at times with the help of some specialized instruments, skillfully blended with his or her sensitivity and artistic sense. Many villages in Philippines are dedicated to Art and Craft industries which not only earn tourist acclaim but are also the sources of employment to many Filipinos. Traditional arts like weaving, metal smith, pottery, woodcarving and gold smith are famous all over the country and are valued both by the locals and tourists. The valuable ornate carvings are a specialty in the southern Philippine Islands.

There are wood carvers’ villages, metal smiths’ villages and many others specializing in different arts and crafts. Some villagers make items out of shells, bamboo parts and rattan stems. The Abaca leaves are used to make braided bowls and bins while buri is extensively used for making hats and novelty items. Coconuts and coconut leaves also find varied usage like making brooms, baskets and some domestic utility products. Hand bags, jewellery made of shells, small boxes; bamboo items and other odd things make great souvenirs and are nice to be gifted too.


Like any other country in the world, the Philippine way of life and the things surrounding them are in one way or another shaped by art. And with the existence of art like music and paintings in the Philippines, the door to yet another world has been opened to allow visitors to enjoy a truly diversified experience of the country.


It wasn't until recently that traditional Philippine music began picking up in popularity after being restricted to ethnic minorities for quite some time. With Western influence in their music, it is definitely not surprising to find that many Filipino bands all over Southeast Asia are well known for their ability to perform music having their origin in the West. Nonetheless, more and more local musicians are embarking on the journey of rediscovering their cultural heritage in the field of music... With the return of the use of traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes, wooden drums and gongs, the Filipinos are slowly bringing old melodies back to life. Apart from that, Philippine folk songs in the original Tagalog have also made a comeback after Freddie Aguilar, the popular social critic, sang Bayan KO (My Country). This song eventually became an anthem of Marcos' rivals during the revolution of 1986.


Visitors to the Philippines will be awed by the works of the country's talented individuals in the art of painting. The country's two most famous painters of the 19th century are Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo. The masterpiece 'Spolarium', which won a gold medal at the 1884 Madrid Exposition, is perhaps, one of Luna's best works. The mid-20th century gave way to other internationally acclaimed artists like Vicente Dizon, Fernando Amorsolo and Vicente Manansala.

Those interested in contemporary art should give the Ateneo Art Gallery a visit. This art gallery showcases the permanent collection of selective contemporary works by contemporary Filipino artists and is located at Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

The Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines at Central Bank Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila is a must see for those with great interest in classical and contemporary paintings and prints from America and Europe. Besides the exhibitions, visitors will also have the chance to see slide shows and films almost daily at this art gallery.



  • Abaca (Musa textiles) is a tree-like herb resembling the banana plant. Its fiber is more widely known in the export trade as Manila hemp. It is durable and resistant and can be easily dyed in different colors.

It is also used in the handicraft business as pulp material for handmade paper, cordage or as fibers to be woven into ropes and braids.


  • Bamboo (Bambusa spinosa) is mostly used for the furniture industry because of its strength and durability. It is also a valuable material for basket and hat making. It is a grass species found throughout the Philippines.Bamboo products that were developed by the CCAP's designers fall under the indoor / outdoor garden setting. Bamboos are often used in combination with sea grass, a freshwater grass growing along rice paddies.


  • Buri (Corypha elata) is the largest palm found in the Philippines. It is one of the most important palms, next to the coconut, in terms of economic and industrial importance. The buri leaf is the most versatile material used in handicraft industry. It is used for making hats, boxes and other novelty items. It can be easily dyed and woven into many shapes.


  • Buri split used in combination with Rattan poles and Tilob fibers is another by-product of the diverse ways of processing the buri palm into materials for the handicraft industry. It comes from the main stalk of the palm where fronds of the buri are attached. These stalks are stripped and split into 3mm thickness and bleached to a creamy finish.


The application of lacquer further enhances the beauty of this material. CCAP considers these products as classic, generating regular orders for more than a decade since they were first introduced.


  • Kalas is a derivative of the buri palm. Locally, the term "kalas" means "to loosen" and refers to the loosened strands of a buri rope. When woven, kalas creates an interesting, rustic pattern with distinct characteristics from its original material.


  • Caragumoy (Pandanus simplex) is a variety of screw pine distributed mostly in the inlands of Luzon and the Visayas Island. It is greenish grey in color as it dries and is used traditionally for making mats, hats, bags and baskets.


  • Pandan-Dagat (Pandanus tectorius) is a variety of screwpine which grows abundantly along seashores of the Philippines. It is made into hats and mats and has evolved to be a favored material for cushions and canisters.


  • Coconut (Cocos nucifera) probably is the most utilized palm in the Philippines. The coconut leaf sticks are used primarily in the handicraft industry as a material for coarse brooms (tingting) and baskets. It can be dyed easily and formed into interesting products in combination with other materials.


  • Rattan (Calamus maximus) is the most versatile material used in the craft industry. It is the general name for all climbing palms. It is used to make furniture and small accessories, mostly baskets. Rattan stems can be split and formed into various shapes and can be dyed, stained, bleached, etc. CCAP's classic products include these baskets made of rattan splits with stained finishing.


  • Sea grass (Rhynchospora corymbosa) is coarse sedge, about 1 meter in height. The stems are distinctly triangular, and the leaves are broad and long. It abounds in the marshlands and rice paddies of southern Luzon. It grows well in irrigated lands, as when a rice paddy is left for fallowing. CCAP developed this sea grass into containers with lids, cushions for the floor and sofa, carry-all bags as well as placements and bowls.


  • Quezon products are mostly vines, barks and twigs representative of rich resources that abound in this province. Materials are cleverly woven, mixed and matched to capture the "Rustic Look" of the handicraft industry. CCAP maintains a host of suppliers from this province.