History and Culture

Weaving A Stronger Fabric Of Filipino Identity Through Traditional Textiles

Metro Manila

Gari Sy Rivera
Gari Sy Rivera | Sep 26, 2019

Photographs by the author

Promoting Filipino culture and heritage? This is what HABI is all about. With this year’s theme of The Highlights of our HABI Journey, the HABI the Philippine Textile Council continues to celebrate authentic Philippine textiles and products through their annual Likhang HABI Market Fair to be held on October 11-13, 2019 at the Glorietta Activity Center.

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The art of producing Philippine textile is an important part of our national identity yet it is steadily dying. This inspired the purpose and advocacy of the council. “The weavers were not doing well,” Maribel Ongpin, HABI Chairperson, shares, “People had forgotten about indigenous fabrics and therefore they were not getting enough of an income, eventually, it was going to decline.” To preserve and celebrate this declining heritage, HABI decided to shine a spotlight on the different weaving communities across the country and showcase the variety of Philippine textiles available. “That’s why we started a market fair,” she adds.

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The fair was also envisioned as a way for the weavers to gain access to a wider marketplace to learn what customers and designers today are interested in. “What's really interesting now is the interest of the designers,” HABI President Adelaida Lim shares, “that’s why we’re highlighting the textiles rather than finished (woven) products because designers now, both fashion and industrial, have interest in seeing what’s available and what can they do with it.”

[related: Reviving A Centuries Old Weaving Industry In Miagao, Iloilo]

As the organization grew, their purpose grew along with them. HABI also learned that local weavers were using synthetic materials that cost less, but do not have the value of natural fibers. Considering that usual materials aren’t exactly environmentally friendly, HABI Coordinator Kelly Mortenson shares that HABI now donates natural raw materials, like cotton, abaca, piña, to the weaving communities. This decision lead to another purpose they have today: to support and expand the opportunities of local farming, particularly cotton for local farmers and weavers. To date, HABI has contributed to the growth of approximately ten cotton farms all over the Philippines, compared to a few years back when only one was present.

[related: Aklan’s Piña Fabric: The Queen of Philippine Textiles]

As Likhang Habi continues to cultivate platforms for local weavers, farmers, they have also expanded into supporting Filipino artistry by featuring other non-woven artisanal Filipino products and activities that support the growth of Filipino culture, including cultural musical performances, Filipino art installations, talks and workshops on sustainable shoemaking, modern weaving, pre-colonial Filipino writing Baybayin.

ALSO READ: Made With Love and Indigenous Textiles: Lakhambini Shoes and Sandals

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