Maruyog Charms: Stylish amulets
Aetas are known for making and peddling “anting-anting” or amulets. Oftentimes, we see some of these stones or roots pinned on children’s shirts.
“It is a branded and innovated traditional ‘anting-anting’ of the indigenous people. It consists of dried roots from special plants like Salindugok and Amigos. These are believed to bring abundance, health and love to the person who wears it; special stones crushed into tiny pieces known as “Diamante Negra”, which provides protection from psychic attracts and can strengthen the aura; and special coconut oil known as “lana”, which is believed to drain negative energies, provide serenity, and healing. Each colored streak for design purposes is chosen to represent the colors of each energy psychic center or chakras,” said Montealto.
Montealto calls these the “Maruyog Charms”. The word “maruyog” in the Aeta’s native dialect means, “beautiful”.
These charms are creations of the womenfolk of the Aeta community in Brgy. San Miguel, Sitio Kati Kati, Province of Guimaras.
“The “paya” or coconut shell I intend to make as a packaging is being made by the men in the community,” she added.
Montealto revealed that it was her friend Joelyn Marie Limson who introduced her to the creators of these charms in May 2012.
“That was the very first time I saw the bracelets and earrings. I already had a strong feeling that it has something great about it. From that day on, the hunch of doing something, without knowing exactly what it is, kept haunting me. So, I started visiting the community in Guimaras almost every weekend since June 2012,” she said.
Being a member of the Center for Social Innovation of Gawad Kalinga, Montealto was trained on creating social enterprises, so she made this as her initiative.
But it was not easy, she admitted. “There came a time that I shut off the idea of doing it. I was in a dilemma for how many weeks, because I saw a lot of similar anting-anting in downtown. In some areas of Panay, they also sell the same kind at a very cheap price. But what keeps me going is my great desire to help the community. To provide them with sustainable livelihood so they can provide themselves complete meals every day, decent homes and guaranteed education for their children. And I told myself that they cannot be alleviated from poverty if they will sell the same quality of products, at the same place, with the same price. So I thought of converting the anting-anting into globally competitive quality accessories. I will create a brand for it, make it as sophisticated as possible, and sell them as a high-end products, which means, higher income for the Aeta community. My Why and What have been very clear to me; but the How, I entrusted it to God. I always keep on reminding myself that, if this is what God wants me to do, He will provide the means and He will sustain me,” she said.
Soon, Montealto will incorporate these charms into “bag design and clothing design and provide more avenues of livelihood for the community.” She added that she will also create a line for men and children, too.
To bring the initiative on a nationwide scale, Montealto and her team mates Limson and Katherine April Gonzales, joined PLDT’s Project Pagsulong. This is a P1-million youth challenge inviting young Filipinos to come up with innovative business ideas and real-life solutions to help alleviate poverty.
With the project, Montealto hopes that the aetas’ other problems will be addressed like lack of water and fading recognition of their culture.
“Through the Maruyog charms, we will put the focus on the heritage of the aeta community, their traditions and their legacy. These charms, being representations of the community’s culture, when worn by people, will become reminders of how rich the aetas’ culture is,” she concluded.*
For information about and orders of Maruyog Charms, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 0927-378-3086. (Kathy Villalon, The News Today, Sept. 27, 2012)