If you have been following me on social media, you might have seen my post about a cute native-looking handbag. I’m a huge fan of bags and honestly, when I saw this handbag from Hyacinth Manila I thought it was cool. Cooler than the round Bali bags that I see on my feed all the time. So I decided to check it out.

Turns out, there’s more to their bags than just looking pretty and classy.

But before I get into that, here’s the bag I got from them. It was sent via-Lalamove in an eco-bag, which I really appreciate. I was a little worried that they would send me my bag wrapped in plastic, but they didn’t which is a big plus for me.

As for the inside of the bag, they gave me the option to have it lined. I thought about it and almost decided that I’d love my bag to be as it is. However, thinking of the stuff I would put inside, I might have a hard time cleaning it in the future. So, ultimately, I have decided to have the insides lined with fabric.

It looks very simple, yet I couldn’t deny that it also looks classy and pretty. Tim actually likes it and said that it looks really sturdy and of high quality to which I agreed. Oh, and the bag also came with a note from the owner, Danielle Wassmer!

When I asked about the background of her business, Danielle kindly responded to me with this:

Hey Mia, sure! Let me know if you’d specifically you’d like to know something else. Just a backgrounder, I grew up in Los Banos Laguna. People who live by the bay actually had a reoccurring problem with water lilies. Flooding is one of the major problems in our town (and the rest of the towns around the bay).

The program was actually launched by DTI and the local municipality. They gathered stay at home moms and taught them how to create bags, wallets and baskets out of these.The fishermen are actually the ones who gets the lilies from the lake. It’s then given to moms. These moms would dry it and flatten it manually. Then the strands are weaved to these bags. 

Material is actually a little but thicker than rattan but it has its own charm. And i guess also the story that goes with every bag— we both get to help these communities without sacrificing style ❤️✨

I know this isn’t the only store out there that has done it or has a similar story, but for some reason, I fell in love with their bags and their efforts to help stay-at-home moms in Laguna, and not only that, they’re helping the entire community to rid of the water lilies that used to contribute to flooding in their area.

How inspiring, right? Well, there’s more to that! I got a little more curious, so I did a quick Google search on Hyacinth Manila and found an article from the Manila Times website that was posted last week. Danielle, if you are reading this, I apologize for the mild stalking. LOL I just wanted to give this feature the justice it deserves.

Turns out that the business is inspired by Danielle’s late mom’s former project and advocacy to help stay-at-home moms in Laguna to have an extra income. Initially, Danielle planned to have a leather bag business but seeing how risky and expensive it can be, she took a friend’s advice to check out local bags being sold at a local store along the highway.

Upon seeing for herself the native bags made from water lilies (or water hyacinths) she remembered her mom, and when she met with the suppliers they realized that she was the daughter of the late “Tita Woowoo”, their nickname for Danielle’s mom. They then shared stories about how her mom helped and taught them to make the bags and established their local business.

It was a really heartwarming story that made me cry just a little. So, I guess, in some ways, my bag is not just a regular bag… it’s a way to commemorate and pay homage to Danielle’s mom, and of course, to continue supporting the local stay-at-home moms in Laguna.

When I first saw the bags on Instagram, I told myself that the owner is probably a genius. But when I spoke to her and researched her business more, I have come to admire her for continuing her mom’s advocacy to help the local community in Laguna.

Check out Hyacinth Manila on Instagram @hyacinthmnl and see for yourself how beautiful their bags are.