Senator Loren Legarda today highlights the talent and artistry of women weavers as the country celebrates National Women’s Month.
Legarda, in partnership with the National Museum, launches the “Abel Ilokana: Celebrating Women Weavers from Ilocos Sur, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Abra” at the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Gallery. It is a month-long exhibition of the Abel Iloko and lecture-demonstration of the Ilokanos’ weaving traditions.
“Today, we celebrate the strength of women and the enduring weaving culture in our country as we have aptly placed the spotlight on our women weavers from the North in time for the National Women’s Month and the International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every 8th of March,” said Legarda, patron of the Hibla Gallery, the country’s first permanent textile gallery.
“Among the tropical fabrics in the Philippines, the Abel of the Ilokanos is one of the famous pieces. Tradition has made it part of an Ilokano’s life—at childbirth, in marriage, and even in death. It is also as mundane as a blanket or a tablecloth or a purse. But behind every Abel is a great synergy of a weaver’s mind, heart and soul. Behind every cloth spun from threads of various origin and colors is a story of a weaver’s relationship with her loom. It is her craft, her passion, her life,” Legarda stressed.
The Abel Ilokana exhibit is a special exhibition within the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Gallery that aims to showcase the artistic handmade textiles of the Ilokana weavers and how the abel can be turned into fashionable clothes.
Legarda noted that while she knows of many communities that continue to practice weaving, it is quite a challenge to keep weaving traditions in the coming decades and centuries especially against a backdrop of a fast-changing globalized world.
The Senator has been engaged in efforts to revive the age-old tradition of weaving. Among her initiatives are the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Gallery; the Hibla Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines, which displayed the different weaving products made by various indigenous communities whose members also demonstrated their different weaving traditions; and the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge, which enriches citizens’ knowledge on tropical fabrics and the culture of weaving.
Legarda is the author of Republic Act 9242, the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law of 2004, which aims to promote and strengthen the local fabric industry as it mandates the use of indigenous fibers for the official uniforms of government officials and employees.
“The task before us is to help our people value and continue our heritage. We must open doors of opportunities for weaving communities. We must promote greater support for cultural enterprises and creative industries of our indigenous peoples. As we do this, we also empower our weavers, many of whom are indigenous women,” said Legarda.
The Abel Ilokana exhibit and lecture-demonstration is open to the public from March 8-30, 2014 (Tuesdays to Sundays) at the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Gallery, 4th Floor, Museum of the Filipino People, Manila.#