Weaving the Philippines Local textures and fabrics

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A T’boli from Lake Sebu demonstrates how ‘t’nalak’ is made from abacawoven fiber. The age-old method is widely recognized as the ‘ikat’ process

A T’boli from Lake Sebu demonstrates how ‘t’nalak’ is
made from abaca woven fiber. The age-old method is widely recognized as the ‘ikat’
process

From fibers and threads to colors and prints, weaving
speaks so much about the Philippines’ cultural narrative. Besides preserving history, the country’s weaves are also promising products that bring attention to indigenous communities via the international design and lifestyle stage.

According to the Garments and Textile Industry Development Office (GTIDO) and the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem), the 2014 edition of Manila FAME identified the weaves that are beginning to show potential in global marketability.

Manila FAME is a premier design and lifestyle event held annually at the SMX Convention, wholly supported by Citem, which in turn is the export promotions arm of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“Citem has always been committed to highlighting the versatility, viability, and global competitiveness of Philippine craftsmanship, and we are glad we were able to emphasize the fabrics that have been part of the country’s culture and artistry,” related Citem executive director Rosvi Gaetos.


He also identified the different Filipino designers who have become proponents of local weaves.

Local weavers from Aklan show how piña is transformed into traditional ‘barong,’ dresses, tapestries, bags, and furniture accessories

Local weavers from Aklan show how piña
is transformed into traditional ‘barong,’
dresses, tapestries, bags, and furniture
accessories

For the cotton and loom-woven abel textiles from Ilocos, Bungalow 300’s interior designers Marga Espiritu and Vernice Songco, the artistic duo’s exhibit at Manila FAME injected their refreshing take on vintage and modern aesthetics. This brought a new spin on the said fabric that has been a huge part of the golden age of Ilocos.

Weavers from Ilocos also participated in presenting abel as material known for bolstering the economy of the Ilocos region during the colonial times, as the products crafted from such thread were largely exported to different countries of the world.

Intricacy is a common feature among Philippine weaves

Intricacy is a common feature among
Philippine weaves

Meanwhile, the vibrant and intricate handcrafted mats that define the traditional Samar mat weaving are being advocated by painter and sculptor Patty Eustaquio. At the Manila Fame exhibit, she infused her design trademark that highlights stark contrasts between the present and the past.

Weavers from Samar also showcased how the sedge grass locally known as tikog can be transformed as mats, and how it can be crafted for bags, furniture matting, adornments for ceiling panels or walls, and other decorative pieces.

The piña fabric from Aklan, on the other hand, was exhibited through the interpretations of jewelery designer Natalya Lagdameo. The fiber used in this famed weaving process in the region comes from the mature leaves of the pineapple plant, which is scraped to extract the fine thread called liniwan.

Handcrafted mats from Samar are woven from sedge grass locally known as ‘tikog’

Handcrafted mats from Samar are woven from
sedge grass locally known as ‘tikog’

Aklanon weavers presented how this material is commonly used in making the traditional barong, dresses, tapestries, bags, and furniture accessories.

Finally, the art of t’nalak weaving from South Cotabato, was brought to life by the design sensibilities of Bong and Rossy Rojales of Heima.

The T’boli women of Lake Sebu were invited to demonstrate the weaving practice. This traditional cloth weaves are made with abaca-woven fiber, and the practice is widely recognized for its age-old method involving the ikat process, where natural dyes and threads from indigenous plants are used.

To date, the time-honored weaving is dubbed as “dream weaving” because the T’boli weavers believe that the textile patterns are lent by Fu Dalu, the spirit of abaca, which are communicated to them through dreams.

“We are thankful to the artists and designers who lent their talent, vision, and artistic sensibilities to innovate and recognize with respect the traditions woven into one of the oldest and strongest pillars of local art, weaving,” Gaetos ended.

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