From Mindanao to Bulacan, the legend of the waling-waling blooms anew in this coming together of creativity, craft, and collaboration as made possible by Raxenne Maniquiz and Basic Movement.
If we were to operate on the shoulda, woulda, and coulda, you know, before one of literature’s favorite devices, the notorious but elusive destiny threads itself into the narrative, then the waling-waling would have long been crowned a royal. Today, the majestic bloom that is endemic to the island of Mindanao, a most beautiful unfurling of orchid petals painted by nature in a vibrant blush of pink that is flicked with a splatter of vivid magenta before settling into its own concentrated base, is known in prose, poetry, and even in the precision of science as the queen of the Philippine orchids.
However, as legend essays, the waling-waling we know of was actually a lady, the most beautiful one in fact, hidden away from the preying sight of Rajah Sulayman and his voracious appreciation for women. Instead of being inducted into his ever-growing harem, fate stepped in and turned the aforementioned object of affection into the flower that we have come to claim as one of, if not the most resplendent of its sort.
A symbol of a love that could have been, it was decreed that the blossom decorate the tree in the palace, and since then the myth and mystery of the waling-waling enchanted all those that came to see it. Even to this day, as it stands to be encroached and endangered, the magic of the orchid has not waned, inspiring not only legends and literature, but of many creative connections as well.
Queen Things Only
Raxenne Maniquiz, a Filipino illustrator and Young Guns nominee whose works draw a lot from the kaleidoscopic flora of the Philippines, and Esme Palaganas the designer and force behind the cultural commitment that is Basic Movement, came together to hero the waling-waling. In this ode to its diwata-like beauty, the two creatives expanded the premise of the floral, which is hardly groundbreaking in fashion, into the skilled hands of artisans in Meycauyan, Bulacan, a geographical pin both share.
“Something we’ve worked on for almost a year is now live,” enthuses Raxenne Maniquiz on the pre-order launch of the capsule collection on basicmovement.ph. The interest for the selection of stacked rings delicately dipped in gold and painstakingly hand-painted by the artist herself, as well as of a set of earrings and necklace was so great that the website crashed initially. Just like the waling-waling and the sketches on the notebook of Raxenne, no two pieces are alike, making it in effect as rare as its point of origin. “Can’t believe we made it!” the artist continues. “And we made so much.”
Elegant as it is evocative, the homage extends beyond just jewelry, the Raxenne Maniquiz and Basic Movement Waling-waling capsule collection also offers ultra-limited edition shirts, still personally decorated by the Filipino illustrator, as well as of a tropical polo, a rich satin scarf, and two Risograph-printed posters of distribution maps of other endemic flora.
The Wonder Of The Waling-waling
“Raxenne has always been influenced by flora and fauna through living in Bulacan and her grandparents, while I was quite passionate and curious on industries we can create in our provinces (such as Meycauayan was before seen as the center of Jewelry in the Philippines before globalization and China produced jewelry was a thing),” explains Esme Palaganas of the union of creativity, culture, and collaboration in honor of the waling-waling. “We then ventured to the big city where we found our passions and a bigger industry we want to be part of. We found ourselves nurturing our craft in the city but we have always went back to our origins for timeless inspirations.”
A dedicated undertaking years in the making, this roll out is just the beginning. “More to come,” teases Esme Palaganas. Echoing the sentiment of the pair of eyes affixed in emoji form, we are keeping our gaze fixed on what else will blossom from this partnership of passion. If this initial foray is any indication, crashing site and an influx of inquiries and all, then this story is well on its way to be the stuff of legends. Where fate may not have accorded our protagonist a chance to be a crowned queen in lore, reality has stepped in to honor her memory in this labor and letter of love to the wonder of the waling-waling.
The waling-waling collection by Raxenne Maniquiz and Basic Movement is available to shop on this website. A portion of sales will go to the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society Inc., a non-profit devoted to the protection and survival of indigenous Philippine plants and their habitats.