As Filipinos, our favorite past time is malling. We enjoy window shopping and bargain hunting. “Tawad” is the name of the game. Amidst the search for those low prices, we forget the value of what we buy. We fail to see that there is a human quality in every item that goes inside our shopping bag. As such, it is easy to not appreciate the excellent handiwork of everyday items and the everyday people behind them.
This consumer apathy is true until we take the time to make things ourselves, and this is why the Maker movement is an important fabric of our life today. It teaches us to first value what we buy by paying the right price for the items that we get and taking care of it. It helps us empathize with the diligent work put into it. More importantly, it gives value back to people. Beyond paying the right amount due to the maker, crafting is about Care with a capital C. We begin to care for the people in our neighborhood who work with their hands. Whether they be barbers or bakers, we see them in a new light as their work is a true service of care to us. And all we can do is give a debt of gratitude back with courtesy and a simple “Thank You!” filled with meaning. In turn, we give our small token of care back to them.
I was awakened to this lesson after I tried making my own “basahan” thanks to Rags2Riches. As I wove my rag and painstakingly learned the intricacies of it, I thought of the countless times rags were sold to me on streets of Manila. I never knew the effort it takes to make even one rag–mine took me 2 hours! From setting the cloth on the board, to layering it and stitching it together, I learned that each part of the process requires precision, as the squares in the pattern need to be even and not too small. Otherwise, you have to start from scratch! It was thought to dreadful to think about as my fingers ached each step of the way to make it perfect. I certainly will not look at another basahan in the same way again.
The experience soon made me reflect on other everyday items that we use from shoes on my feet to the bag that I carry to work. I only have this reflection now because of what my friend calls “poverty of experience”. We take things for granted because there is a vacuum of knowing and understanding. Thus, we don’t appreciate the craftsmanship behind everyday item, services, and people behind them. This is why the craft and maker movement will be important at any era. It is about improving one’s experience to ripple into your neighbor’s experience, making us more authentically connected as humans. This is why I propose to start with your own curiosity. Be curious to ask how things are made around you and learn a craft. Notice the details and look at them up close. And when you are eager and ready, you can create.
Thank you R2R and Starbucks for setting up this activity. It has given me a “fullness of experience”.