Weaving: dreams and aspirations

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago - Visaya - The Freeman

When my students in my college Humanities and Philippine Arts and Culture classes got into the experience of weaving puso (hanging rice), I am always fascinated by their work. They can always stretch their creativity and ingenuity with this purposeful activity. This is just one of the numerous human endeavors that necessitate weaving.

During my visits to several marginalized communities in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, I got to talk to some of the women who had been making mats for sale in the neighborhood markets. The mat weaving (Ticog) in Basey, Samar, is a living legacy that must be fully recognized and supported by all individuals especially our government. In certain situations, they relied on this activity as their main source of income to sustain their families and even pay for the schooling of their children. Women were aware that they had to undertake economic endeavors as counterpart to their husbands. True enough, the women's weaving initiative rescued the family as a whole, especially for husbands without a steady source of income or employment.

One of the unique ways that the indigenous people of the Philippines display their arts, culture, and traditions is via weaving. Every Philippine region has a distinctive handloom history that has grown to be recognized as its own brand. Similar to Aklan Province, which is well-known for producing the Piña (Pineapple) fabric, which is regarded as the “Mother of all Philippine Textile” and is frequently used to create the country's national costumes: Barong Tagalog and Baro’t Saya.

Due to the rise of foreign influences and commercialization, the T'boli Tribe of Lake Sebu Cotabato, the artisans who create the Tinalak cloth, are facing grave threats to their cultural legacy. Consequently, the handwoven legacy saw a steady deterioration and a cultural alienation. Additionally, the market for traditional hand-woven Philippine textiles is shrinking due to the availability of less-priced alternatives and quick fashion.

Given the tight ties between our histories and origins, it should come as no surprise that many of our traditions blend together. What's even more amazing is the number of women leaders leading the organizations dedicated to preserving these traditions. We hope that these women or their groups will be given the opportunity to access the international market, support their companies for long-term social impact and women's empowerment, and maintain the many cultural weaving traditions in a way that allows each to stand out on its own.

Weaving refers to more than simply physical labor --it also refers to the weaving of dreams. For their families, mothers weave their goals and hopes. With the hope that their children will live comfortably someday, they have poured their hearts and minds into what they are doing. Children would end the cycle of poverty in their generation in this way.

Nonetheless, weaving has ingrained itself into Filipino culture and psyche. As an integral component of some communities' identities, we have placed a great value on our brothers and sisters who have managed to sustain this economic and cultural endeavor. Regretfully, newer generations are becoming less interested in the traditional weaving practices of the indigenous people of the Philippines. The younger generations in indigenous communities sometimes leave for better prospects abroad or in the city due to urbanization, new technology, and employment opportunities.

In order for future generations to appreciate the cultural value of weaving, we must maintain and support it. Without a doubt, the next generation will reflect on the past and value the contributions made by their predecessors that helped shape who they are today.

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