Ali Yee first contacted Oscha in an effort to raise money for Habitat for Humanity in 2014 after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. We were delighted to work together and create the beautiful Visayas baby sling as a charity wrap. Since then we have been keen to explore a new pattern with Ali, based on her intricate & bold tattoo-style artwork. Ali is half Filipino and is a member of Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon, a modern day tribe which celebrates the renaissance of traditional Filipino tribal tattoos. Using her art as a mode of storytelling and as an exploration of her heritage, she brings her new pattern Katican to life.
Katican Chorus was inspired by a trip Ali took to the Philippines in 2009 with her family, she visited the towns where her father and step-mother grew up and enjoyed piecing together aspects of her cultural heritage. She visited during a time of much celebration where her step-grandmother was the Hermana Mayor, or sponsor, of the Feast of the Holy Rosary. This included an amazing, colourful procession, dance performances and a huge feast, all of which made up the Fiesta.
“After the Fiesta, we took a boat to Tubaobao island and Pearl Island, also known as Katican. Pearl Island is a marine life sanctuary with lots of giant clams and is a great spot for beach combing sea shells and coral. “
Her new design depicts a vibrant underwater scene, with sea creatures from starfish to turtles and dolphins. You could have hours of fun with your little one, finding all of the sea life hidden throughout Ali’s design- we have all enjoyed the excitement of spotting another emerging from the pattern!
“‘Katican’ is the name I have chosen for this design which features various sea creatures. It comes from the root word ‘katinikangan’ or ‘beginning’, and means ‘to start’ in Waray-Waray.”
This design holds memories from her trip but also symbolic imagery harking back to her heritage through the use of traditional tattoo motifs.
“Growing up, I struggled with fully understanding the Filipino experience. I am a second generation mestiza (or half Filipina) who does not speak my father’s dialect. What did it mean to be Filipino? I had explored these questions a couple of years prior to the trip by joining Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon, a group which seeks to restore the pre-Colonial practice of Filipino tribal tattooing. Seeing where my dad was raised and where my grandparents came from helped to paint a picture of who he is and in turn, helped me further understand my Filipino heritage.”
The first edition of this pattern has been woven on a colourful warp, reminiscent of the sunset on Calicoan island (pictured above), the deep blue weft yarn reflects the ocean swirling around the sea creatures. The wrap will be available on Thursday 28th July at 3pm BST.
Read on to read about Ali’s adventure below:
You can see Ali’s full trip, by viewing her Flickr album here.
In October 2009, when I was 26, my sister and I were fortunate enough to visit my father’s and step-mother’s birthplace, Guiuan, Philippines. It was her mother’s turn to be the Hermana Mayor, or sponsor, for the Feast of the Holy Rosary. This special occasion which brings the community together in the Catholic celebration of the Blessed Virgin lasts a few days and ends with a huge feast. Being the Hermana Mayor is an honour as it is the Hermana Mayor and family who host the Blessed Virgin Mary statue in their home for the year and who also fund the events and feast which make up the Fiesta. It was the perfect occasion to experience the Philippines!
I had never been to the Philippines before so it was really exciting for me to connect with my dad culturally. The Philippines is divided into three main island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Guiuan is a beautiful place located on the southernmost tip of Eastern Samar in the Visayas.
To get there was quite the adventure! From Hawaii, where I was living at the time, it was a ten-hour flight to Manila. We stayed overnight and got a little taste of the hustle and bustle of Manila. Probably most memorable for me was how four lanes of traffic easily transformed into eight, and somehow, the flow of traffic just worked! The next day, we went back to the airport and flew to Tacloban. Tacloban is a major Visayan city where you can find a statue of General MacArthur commemorating his return to the Philippines during WWII and also one of the best Filipino desserts, binagol. After a delicious seafood dinner in Tacloban, we started the three-hour drive to Guiuan. We took the San Juanico bridge from Leyte to Samar, passing through Lawaan (another place where my dad grew up). Travelling through the towns, you could feel the change of pace. Compared to the rush and crowds of Manila, these areas felt peaceful, easy-going, as if time passed slowly. It was a welcome change to feel relaxed after such a long journey!
We stayed at my Lola’s (my stepmother’s mother) gorgeous Spanish-influenced home. The open patio, courtyard, and floating gazebo provided access to cool breezes- sweet relief from the extreme humidity. The Fiesta celebrations kicked off with a dance performance in the town plaza that night we arrived. The next day, we watched a triathlon and participated in a parade featuring various schools and ending with more dance performances in the town plaza. That evening had a fundraising event, the Vesper Dance. Mass was celebrated a few times at the gorgeous historic Immaculate Conception Parish Church.
There were a couple of processions through the town displaying the Blessed Virgin on a float, and also various games, such as a basketball competition to watch. We enjoyed fireworks at the plaza and a concert featuring Nonoy Libanan, former Congressman and Immigration Commissioner, and Fame Flores (prior to her being a contestant on Pilipinas Got Talent and Asia’s Got Talent). The last day of the Fiesta was a huge feast. Everyone was invited- and I mean everyone- from Guiuan to neighbouring towns! It was definitely a time of celebration and togetherness.
After the Fiesta, we took a boat to Tubabao island and Pearl Island, also known as Katican. Pearl Island is a marine life sanctuary with tons of giant clams and is a great spot for beachcombing seashells and coral. Before we headed back to Manila to return home, we spent a night at Calicoan Island, a place known for its beaches and surfing spots, and we also went hiking.
‘Katican’ is the name I have chosen for this design which features various sea creatures. It comes from the root word ‘katinikangan’ or ‘beginning’, and means ‘to start’ in Waray-Waray. Growing up, I struggled with fully understanding the Filipino experience. I am a second generation mestiza (or half Filipina) who does not speak my father’s dialect. What did it mean to be Filipino? I had explored these questions a couple of years prior to the trip by joining Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon, a group which seeks to restore the pre-Colonial practice of Filipino tribal tattooing. Seeing where my dad was raised and where my grandparents came from helped to paint a picture of who he is and in turn, helped me further understand my Filipino heritage. My stepmother and her family have always embraced my sister and me as true family, and looking back, this trip really helped me recognise that. Their generosity towards me really exemplifies the Filipino spirit, and I hope to return again.