Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I lived for awhile in the City of Baguio and whenever I walked to the market, I would often see these homespun cloth dolls of orange muslin, handmade to represent an Igorot and Igorota and wrapped in cellophane to be sold as tourist souvenirs. Like the ubiquitous Man-in-a-Barrel and wooden Fork & Spoon giant wall hangings, these cloth dolls (made from as small as an inch to as big as a 2-footer) were among the bestselling items from the mountain city--made cheaply, but certainly full of folk charm. Baguio dolls are still being made and sold in the local stall of Marbayand Maharlika Livelihood Center, but the materials that are being used have changed, giving the dolls an uncharacteristic look. There are less details too, unlike these two half-a-century old dolls from the collection of a Manila octogenarian.

These 10 in. stuffed ethnic dolls have hand-painted faces; the lips are sewn with red thread. Though of basic construction, the pair are garbed in authentic Igorot costumes (well, almost!). The male doll in a g-string even has a small harvest basket at his back. The lovely Igorota wears a traditional wrap around skirt made from traditional woven fabric and her vestida is trimmed with shells at the collar.

Baguio has changed a lot these days--Session Rd. has been closed to vehicles, a giant mall dot the landscape where Pines Hotel used to be. Where are the Indian bazaars? The Old Pagoda Shop? Sunshine Bakery? I miss too, the scent of pines and the sight of sunflowers. But thank heavens I have these 2 dolls to remind me of my Baguio memories now blanketted with the mist of the passing years.

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