Salakot in Manila



Fellow speaker, RC Villa Abrille and I recently held an art workshop for an international school in the south of Manila. Our topic was 'Pinoy Icon'; not celebrity icons, ha? I meant icons like Filipino symbols and its various representation. I brought along my pandan salakot from Mindanao as an example. Surprisingly, not only did the kids NOT know what it is; they have no idea what the salakot was made for.

Then again we were talking to first graders; but that's beside the point.

It occurred to me that this distinctly Asian, broad-brimmed head gear isn't something you see everyday in Luzon anymore. In particular, Manila. It made me wonder. When was the last time someone wore a salakot in the metro? I can hazily recall MMDA cleaning aides back in the 90's wearing such head pieces; and that's about it. What was once a status symbol of the Filipino elite is now an oddity.

To prove my point, as soon as we got out of the school compound I started wearing the salakot. I noticed my ever loyal and very tolerant life partner started walking two steps behind me. I went inside a shopping mall wearing it. People were either blatantly staring or discreetly peeking. 

What? You think I'm enjoying this? Is it that obvious? LOL.
The best reaction I received was a high five from a complete stranger with matching, "Ganda sumbrero mo, Ate!" comment. 

I wanted to say, "Thanks for the compliment. It's a social experiment!" But we all know, malakas lang talaga trip ko. Lol. 


I only came to appreciate my salakot when we were outside though. Where I would usually sweat buckets when wearing a baseball cap- the salakot's conical top was like a ventilation shaft. And the wide brim covered my entire body from the glare of the sun. Amazing.
See? No sweat at all. :)
I can see the wisdom in wearing one all the time. But sadly, I don't think the salakot is cut out for contemporary Manila life. I keep bumping my head on doorways and jeepney ceilings with it. The constant temperature changes from going inside an air conditioned building, heat of the noontime sun then back to the cold in an air conditioned bus- took a toll on my pandan salakot. It is made of dried pandan leaves after all.

The saying is true: the only constant thing in life is change. There may not be room for the humble salakot in Manila anymore; yet I'm comforted with the idea that in some parts of the country, it is still used and loved.

Cheers to this distinctive Pinoy icon: the Filipino Salakot!
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