Interview with the rattan peddler

rattan peddler 4

“How old are you?”

“I was born in 1917.”

One of the things I love about traveling is meeting unique, interesting people. This morning, my mother came home from her exercise (she goes to an outdoor zumba class every day, except Sundays) with an old man carrying a roll of rattan on his head and other stuff hanging from his shoulders.

“I have no vice. I don’t drink or smoke and I walk/run miles every day. My only vice maybe is eating. I love to eat.”

rattan peddler 2

He is an old man (old only in age – he is 98 years old!) peddling hammocks made out of rattan (woven wicker). He has 4 hammocks, 2 big sized ones and 2 smaller ones rolled and carried on top of his head with a rolled piece of cloth to protect his scalp. He also has shoulder bags, baskets, small wallets and traditional Philippine hats called salakot. He carries these walking, selling it.


Benjamin rocking the salakot. Filipinos used to wear this during the olden times to ward off the heat, before the popularity of umbrellas.

batsee salakot

“Why do you do this? Carry all this stuff? Isn’t this tough for someone your age?” 

I love doing this. This is my exercise. I actually don’t need to do this – I am a World War II veteran and receiving pension…but this, I take pride in telling people to use Philippine products made out of local materials. And walking long distances makes me feel alive.

rattan peddler 3

We bought the big sized hammock (cost: 600 pesos or US$15) to hang by our mango tree at the back of our house. The peddler (I am so bummed I didn’t ask his name!) rolls the remaining 3 hammocks, ready for his next journey. Look at his physique. He is all muscles. Very lean and muscular, suddenly I felt ashamed I’ve not worked out for days.

I was born and raised in Samar Island but I love coming to Mindanao, this is, really the “land of promise”.

rattan peddler 5

When I was younger in the 1920’s, my grandparents told me I’d live till the day when metals could fly and float and so much more. My grandmother was referring to the big ships and jets we see now. I really lived to see them all!

rattan peddler 1

Tomorrow, I leave for Siquijor island to sell more hammocks like these. I belong to a cooperative union manufacturing these hammocks. We export them to Australia for AU$30 each. Now, the coop at Siquijor island said there’s a resort being built there and these hammocks will sell.

And off goes the peddler carrying all his stuff. I wish more people would buy those items, because as much as he says it’s no big deal to carry them all, all day and walking long distances, he’s still already 98 after all.

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