Just because it’s brown doesn’t make it any less techie. How else could a bunch of dried leaves be manipulated into a cleaning implement, if not for applied science?
Most soft brooms sourced and used in countries like the U.S. and Japan are made from dried corn husks. Philippine Tambo, on the other hand, comes from one of two types of reeds: “phragmites,” the English name for tambo, and “tiger grass,” also a phragmite sub species. Reeds are basically talahib that grow beside rivers, and only on damp ground. They sprout up green and are harvested brown between December to late February.
Each flowering reed measures less than 0.05 of an inch, or 1 to 0.9mm thin, with leaves that grow at least 8 and at most 13 inches in length. There are single reed flowers, and then there’s a panicle or talulot of reed flowers that together measure an inch in diameter. The reeds are harvested with a bolo, dried, then bundled together and bound tightly with a string, sheared off excess length for uniformity, and tied to a bamboo handle that’s wrapped in rolled plastic, with marks where the tambo was made (i.e. Baguio).
HOW MANY REEDS IN ONE WALIS?
By DENR’s Community Livelihood Assistance Special Program’s count, a maximum of 105 panicle or talulot of reed flowers go into a regular, below- the-waist- sized tambo. Overlapping reed strands compact the walis into a multi-layered wall that can push off most solid floor dumi not bigger and heavier than the entire walis itself.
TAMBO VS. PLASTIC BROOMS
Where the tambo is softer and more pliable to work with around tricky corners, bristly plastic brooms work and play to the same strengths as the walis tingting. Both brooms will argue cheaper sticker price, but because reed is sustainable, and plastic isn’t, Pinoy tambo manufacturers aren’t going anywhere.