Stylewise Local BagsAsk anybody—I’ve always been a tribal type of girl.

Case in point: I hoard indigenous jewelry like a crazy person. I find that in the course of retail therapy, it’s the tribal patterns and animal prints that make me most happy. I’m all about those coarse, fishtail braids that make you look like a warrior princess. And for a time (when they were still uso), I was obsessed with those beaded headbands you wear across your forehead with your hair streaming down on either side (like a warrior princess).

You can be sure I’ll love any editorial in a magazine if it’s got some sort of jungle/mountain/deserted island promise to it.

And I’ve always, always thought that the traditional attire of our local tribes were rife with fashion inspiration.

Did any of you get to wear those Ibaloi costumes as a kid for Filipino Month? I did—and well into high school, I still kept all my gear for “creative purposes.” I used the head sash as a belt, and I attempted to turn the top part into a legit jacket. Neither experiment turned out very well. But it’s the effort that counts, right?

Believe it or not, I’m reminded of this now as we approach Independence Day. I know, I know, this occasion is meant to embody a spirit of freedom and patriotism—which has very little to do with what you put on in the morning. Fashion-centric as my mindset is, this I must agree with.

But the other part of me whispers, “Why not?” It’s fun, and it’s an expression of self, and if that self-expression can incorporate some genuine Pinoy pride, I don’t see what the harm is.

So maybe you’re not the type to put on a flag-emblazoned tee—but you are the type to appreciate fine tribal craftsmanship, like me. In which case, what could be a better compromise than supporting indigenous textiles?

Ever heard of tinalak? How about yakan? These are just two of the amazing local materials that are taking the fashion world by storm, most by way of an uber-essential you and I use every day: The Bag!

So if you’re feeling it, click on for a quick primer on some of the coolest homegrown handbags you can grab. Their tribal inspiration puts them solidly on-trend—but it’s their local flavor and Filipino heart that truly make them shine.

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(All photos courtesy of

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