Tradition breeds profits for quiet town in Kalinga
LUBUAGAN, Kalinga – In Barangay (village) Mabilong here, weaving is a sacred tradition passed on from mother to daughter.
This is why every house in this remote community has women skilled enough to weave traditional garments, from which they earn a tidy profit, says Josephine Fejer, 46.
“I was in Grade 3 when my mother taught me how to operate a backstrap loom [a mechanism strapped to a weaver’s body],” she says.
Fejer’s clan is known for its members’ skills in weaving the finest Kalinga tapis (skirt), bahag (g-string) and blankets.
The Mabilong community, on the other hand, is known in Kalinga for its backstrap weaving techniques.
“In Mabilong homes, almost every member of the family helps in the weaving of garments. As soon as women finish weaving, the male family members come in and stitch the designs, which are drawn from their environment such as stars, mountains, lakes, birds and animals,” Fejer says.
Many of these designs are passed down from early generations, and the families take care not to alter them because every detail and color has a specific meaning.
“We make sure we don’t lose our [traditional] color combinations of red and black,” Fejer says.
Mabilong fabric and garments have been exhibited in trade shows in the Cordillera and Metro Manila.
The fabric has been used for other products such as bags, belts, coats and neckties, shoes and mobile telephone and pillow cases.
Goods inspired by Mabilong designs are produced by top exporters of woven products like Narda’s, Easter Weaving School and the Kalinga Indigenous Weavers’ Association, records from the Kalinga trade office show.
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