For the artisans of Leyte, summer is an eternal bloom

Uswag Artesano is a brand built on heritage and a culture of craft.

Using indigenous natural materials like bamboo, rattan, abaca, romblon, sig-id, and batang-batang, the Leyte brand Uswag Artesano handcrafts lifestyle products to tell inspiring stories about their “sacred ordinary” or their rituals using fishing baskets, mats, market totes, and other everyday items. These are reimagined and reinterpreted by the brand as emblems that represent Leyte’s heritage, history, and culture of craft.

Uswag Artesano is fueled by the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Leyte’s artisans. Founder Anna Veloso-Tuazon explains, “Uswag is the Karay-a term for improvement and advancement. Or enrichment.”

Uswag Artesano bags
Uswag Artesano products are available on The Fine Line’s Instagram page.

“Sacred ordinary” was inspired by Quintin Jose V. Pastrama’s poem Mother’s Day, a phrase that celebrates the state of grace and gratitude in the peace and quiet of daily ritual, an appreciation for the equanimity one finds in the quotidian. This ideal is embodied in the lives the artisans lead as farmers, fisherfolk, and craftsmen.

Their hands are poetry in motion when they transform the mundane into ritual. Shapes and forms are refined and elevated to echo the brand’s reverence for the Eastern Visayas region’s way of life.

Uswag Artesano craft bags
Uswag Artesano Products

“Through our bobo-inspired lamps, chicken brood of candle holders, amakan curtains, leafy abaca forest and baskets that double as interactive art installations, we hope to give you a glimpse of Leyte’s third district—visual and tactile narratives retold by our craftsmen and artisans,” shares Anna.

Heritage of craft and rebuilding

The indigenous materials used by the brand are locally sourced from and produced in the towns of Villaba, Tabango, San Isidro, Calubian, and Leyte.

The district is always in the process of rebuilding and picking up the pieces following super typhoons and other natural disasters. It is not uncommon for residents to find themselves temporarily displaced by torrential rainfall or a storm. Livelihood, most of which are anchored on farming and fishing, is also often compromised by natural disasters.

Uswag Artesano bag

The artisans channel their energy towards enriching their lives through craft. Through cultural mapping and amplification of cultural literacy, they have also established a framework that guides the creation of unique designs, production processes, and narratives.

Circular, creative economy

Established primarily as a livelihood initiative, Uswag was also envisioned to establish and tap into the region’s creative economy. Anna expounds, “Through Uswag, we endeavor to create alternative sources of income for our artisans by inspiring them to create products that are good for our people and the environment.”

Uswag Artesano craft

The livelihood generated through Uswag also extends to local suppliers of materials. The supply chain—from sourcing to production and selling—is intended to inspire the reuse, renewal, and reimagining of lifestyle products.

“We are part of the country’s creative economy,” states Anna. “By visually translating heritage concepts into contemporary forms, we create a ripple effect to allow our community to mirror to the world who we are, what we care about, and what makes us tick. It is our hope that this eventually yields social returns on investment and the quality of life we aspire to give our children and everyone we care about.”

Uswag Artesano products are available on The Fine Line’s Instagram page.

The new lifestyle.