Benguet traditional weaving showcased at int’l mining conference

BAGUIO CITY — Traditional weaving of Benguet province was showcased by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company’s (LCMC) exhibition booth during the three-day Mining Philippines 2019 International Conference at Sofitel, Manila on September 10-12.

All the way from Mankayan, Benguet – site of Lepanto’s mine camp – the mining firm brought to the exhibit one of its vintage looms and its local weavers to showcase not just the traditional Benguet textiles, but the intricacy behind its production.

Handwoven bags and purses, table runners, shawls and blankets were displayed at the LCMC’s booth attracting buyers and selfie-takers and giving them first-hand experience of the age-old art of weaving by trying their hands on the loom.

Before Narda’s, Sagada Weaving and Easter Weaving in Baguio City came to be, there was the Lepanto Crafts, which tribal weavers in the region consider as one of the forerunners of the Cordillera weaving industry.

Lepanto weaving started in the early 1950s, when Mrs. Lucille Foster, the wife of Lepanto’s general superintendent then, organized the Lepanto Women’s Club and introduced weaving as one of the organization’s livelihood projects. Their woven products became in demand then, reaching as far as Baguio Country Club and Manila Hotel. It even found its way abroad, to London and the USA. Its heyday lasted for almost two decades, ending when the Fosters left Lepanto. In 2015, through the initiative of LCMC’s President and COO Bryan U. Yap, Lepanto decided to revive weaving as a livelihood program.

LCMC’s Communications Head Butch Mendizabal said that Lepanto’s booth highlights the firm’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, and weaving is just one of the many programs that the company has been nurturing over the years.

“More than just being an extractive business, mining has the heart that fosters a strong and vibrant community. We want the world to see that the mining industry is a social enterprise, helping our surrounding communities grow with us”, added LCMC’s VP for HR and CSR Knestor Jose Godino.

One of the many components of the #LepantoCares, the company’s rebranded CSR program, is about cultural preservation. Besides weaving, Lepanto also has been supporting the Lepanto National High School Gambang Theater Guild, a local school-based theater arts group that has been gaining nationwide recognition. Through their assistance, the company rolls out every summer a theater arts workshop, teaching the community children in Mankayan about the traditional Benguet dances.

“Culture will always be an integral part of our business. It is who we are as a company. Lepanto exists because of our culture and heritage and we must never forget this”, LCMC President COO Yap said. ●