Arts & Culture

The Story Behind the Bagobo Tagabawa Tribe's Limited Handmade Collection for ArteFino

The intricately beaded jackets bring a special connection to the weaver and wearer.

ArteFino has been proudly championing Philippine-made products, concepts, and ideas since its incepction. This is, in fact, the main philosophy behind the whole movement of the annual art and craft fair.

This year, the fair’s founders, Cedie Lopez-Vargas, Susie Quiros, Marimel Francisco, Maritess Pineda, and Armita Rufino, are introducing the first collection under the HeArteFino Development Program, a launch pad to provide local communities with sustainable livelihoods.

The HeArteFino x Zarah Juan collection

Behind the scenes, HeArteFino empowers Filipino artisans by connecting them to artist-entrepreneurs. “HeArteFino is the soul of ArteFino. Funds raised from the fair sustain this program, wherein we collaborate with a chosen designer to give assistance to a particular community—through a product development project simultaneous with a capacity building arm, giving them items they need in order to improve their craft and livelihood,” says Marimel Francisco.

The first HeArteFino Development Program grant was awarded to the Bagobo Tagabawa, and as part of the grant, the community will receive business tools, equipment, and further funding.

The women of ArteFino with girls from the Bagobo Tagabawa community.

In February, the ArteFino team along with designer Zarah Juan, flew to Davao to meet the Bagobo Tagabawa community, where they broke bread and exchanged stories about local crafts and culture. Juan’s beaded mules, one of the best-selling products from last year’s fair, were made by the members of the community. For this year’s edition, the Bagobo community collaborated with Juan to present a 156-piece collection of intricately handmade beaded jackets.


The Bagobo Tagabawa artisans are inspired by three things: Manama (God), Manobo (Man), and Banwa (Nature). Not only that, the community’s designs are also based off of personal experiences, inspirations, and prayers. Each element is imbued and can be seen in their creations, bringing a connection between the weaver and the wearer.

See more photos from the ArteFino team’s visit to the Bagobo Tagabawa community below:

The mother of the community's one of a kind jacket.

ArteFino together with the Colayco Foundation held a financial literacy talk as part of their initiative.

The mother of the tribe, Bae Arlyn Salazar.

Girls from the Bagobo Tagabawa community.

A preview of the products that will be available at ArteFino.

The women artisans of the Bagobo Tagabawa community.

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Paolo Chua
Staff Writer
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