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How tote-ful!

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 09, 2021 5:00 am Updated Jun 09, 2021 11:44 am

Lovely summer and beach bags bring good vibes. What seems to be a mundane and practical item to some is also a vessel of creativity, craft, and I will go so far as to say, identity for others.

I love beach bags, especially those that are unique, fun, stylish, and proudly Philippine-made. Aside from being eye candy, these bags just make me “love local” more and savor summertime in our tropical country.

I have rounded up some of the standout summer bags into an amazing list.

Filip + Inna

Len Cabili, founder and creative director of Filip + Inna, is an inspiration and makes me feel proud to be Pinoy. She is spearheading a drive for us to be more patriotic with the moving slogan “Dama ko, lahi ko.”

Through her fashion, one discovers Filipino heritage via the weaving, embroidery, and beadwork done by indigenous groups throughout the country.

Her clothes are modern and yet steeped in tradition. Len’s Vizcarra x Filip + Inna is a collaboration with the legendary S.C. Vizcarra. It is a lovely, well-designed, quality bag that is oceanside-ready. The Vizcarra x Filip + Inna bag is available in small, medium, and large sizes.

For orders and more information, email [email protected]. Check out Filip + Inna’s Instagram account.

Maison Lourdes

  Behind Maison Lourdes is Marilu Batchelor, who started her handbag line in 2004.

Behind the bespoke and limited-edition bags by Maison Lourdes is Marilu Batchelor. Her designs are stylish, using snakeskin, leather and indigenous fabrics like Tinalak, Yakan, and Ifugao.

Her bags, which she has been making since 2004, are created in partnership with communities of artisans based in Quezon City and Marikina. Her canvas tote bags and beach bags are sleek and elegant. Each feature local hand-woven textile straps and detailing from Marawi, Ifugao and Kalinga.

  Hand-woven local textile straps add a pop of color to the Maison Lourdes summer bag.

The canvas beach bags are available through the brand’s Instagram account. Other bags are available at SM Kultura and House of Laurel.

Kaayo Modern Mindanao

  Marga Nograles and her see-through Kaayo tote

Marga Nograles has been at the forefront of promoting fashion that showcases the beauty of the arts and crafts of the people and tribes of Mindanao in her Kaayo Modern Mindanao line. 

The good news is she also creates summer and beach bags. “Our Kaayo totes are made from hand-woven mixed prints and come in different shapes and sizes — all highlighting our favorite hand-woven tinalak,” she says.

They also have these chic, see-through plastic bags that are easy to sanitize anytime and anywhere, which is in keeping with the world we live in today. Each Kaayo bag is unique, as not one has the exact, same mixed-print combination.

Some pieces are on waitlist but they have new bags that come out every week. You may purchase them at You may also visit Kaayo Modern Mindanao at their Instagram account.

 The beauty of Mindanao tinalak weaving in this Kaayo bag

Adante Leyesa

Accessory and bag designer Adante Leyesa was a Fashion & Design Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Design Contest Grand Winner in 2011. He had undergone mentorship under no less than Josie Natori through Manila Wear of CITEM for designers presented during Manila FAME. He has also presented in exhibitions and business missions abroad.

  The Tisay beach bag by Adante Leyesa is made from handwoven rattan with beaded tassels.

I love tassels, so what caught my eye was Adante’s Tisay bag. Another lovely item is his Mutya bag, which is adorned with floral embroidery and beads in mixed media. It comes with detachable straps for the hand and body to serve as your all-day bag from sunrise to sundown.

My favorite, though, is the fun Miss BB, which is a colorful bucket bag and a collab with Bidibidi.

  This festive Miss BB from Adante Leyesa is a bucket bag with colorful beads done in collaboration with Bidibidi.

To purchase his designs, contact 0917-3155755 or 0917-7281622. Also, check out Adante Leyesa’s Facebook page and Instagram account 

Carl Jan Cruz Bags

  The Placemat by Carl Jan Cruz is a comeback bag from his collection two years ago.

A homegrown talent with international experience and recognition, fashion designer CJ Cruz continues with his distinctive touch in bags. His creations are fresh and contemporary and, in my view, perfect for all seasons. His products are made in the Philippines and sewn at his atelier in Taguig.

Made from soft and sturdy ribbed fabric, reversible and washable, CJ’s bag designs come in different shapes and sizes. The Kirig is a stand-alone mini-sling bag that can also work as a pouch or organizer for larger totes.

The Iannique is a versatile bag that you can use daily or at the beach. It is called a “no-fuss” bag but the design is so my type. The Placemat Bag, which was from a collection two years ago, made a comeback in a more refined form. Finally, there is the Gala, a shoulder bag that they claim is for the lakwatsera.

  The "no-fuss" Iannique Bag by Carl Jan Cruz is reversible and washable.

To purchase these bags, go to You may follow their Instagram account 


  Abaca tote with an exquisite hand-embroidered garden design by local artisans at Kultura

I could spend an entire day in Kultura. It is my go-to store when looking for exceptional Filipino items. This summer, Kultura brings a touch of the indigenous and the innovative, the exotic and the elegant to one’s wardrobe with local bags. Loving local has never been more stylish.

There are beautifully textured, unique handmade bags made from rattan, pandan, raffia, and wicker — perfect for fun in the sun and beyond. 

  Kultura is summer-ready with this abaca tote with nito accents.
Kultura's artistically designed jar-shape abaca bag with flower embroidery

The Kultura Bags collection is available at Kultura Stores. You can also shop at For delivery, call 0917-5174096 or 0967-6093407.  You can also join their Viber community.  Kultura ships here and abroad.

Exquisite finds at ArteFino

  An ArteFino discovery: The Sling Bag by Bidibidi, which is a one-of-a-kind art piece.

  This super-cute Butanding Bag by Ash & Muff is available at

I always look forward to the ArteFino fairs because I get to discover amazing, Filipino-made creations by artisans and top-notch designers. A few exquisite finds for beach bags include the whimsical Pineapple Bag by Zarah Juan, inspired by the pineapple fields of Silang, Cavite. It is handcrafted by Cavite cane weavers, weavers of Camarines Sur and assembled by Bulacan artisans.

Another obvious choice is the super-cute Butanding Bag by Ash & Muff. This Butanding tote is the result of a collaboration between the Bulacan embroiderers and Marikina bag makers. It is crafted from PVC and locally woven fabrics from Ilocos.

Another summer-vibe find is the Sling Bag by Bidibidi. It is made of sawali-woven bangkuan grass, emblazoned by the iconic Caras De Frida, and hand-embroidered meticulously and with love by the Bidibidi women.

Each bag is a unique and one-of-a-kind art piece. Last but not least is the Cacao Bag by Halohalo, which is an elegant carry-all with a long, adjustable cross-body strap and handle straps for full flexibility. You can use it on beach trips and even to the office.

  The Cacao Bag by Halohalo is an elegant carry-all and is available at ArteFino's website.

All these bags can be purchased at ArteFino’s website Shop and at their pop-in on the Power Plant Mall website,