And for the month of October, we celebrate Indigenous People's month by taking a look at some of the weaving identities that Daily Malong has continually supported and enriched.
Weaving as cultural identity in the Philippines
Weaving in the Philippines dates back to the 13th century. It is considered as an artform perfected and passed on generation to generation. And in a country with a vibrant and diverse culture, weaving has evolved as a defining cultural identity of many indigenous communities.
Today, there are about 450 weaving groups across the Philippines spread out across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Weaves typically make use of locally available materials such as cotton, fibers, abaca, and pineapple.
The T'nalak is the weaving identity of the T'boli community from Lake Sebu in Mindanao.
Handwoven from Abaca fibers, these intricate and creative patterns are believed to be from the dreams of weavers who create it. They can't create a design of the Tinalak if they haven't dreamed of it. This is why the weavers are often called 'dream weavers'.
Because of their unique patterns, authentic T'nalak weaves cannot be mass-produced. Every design is new and never replicated. Each one is one of a kind.
Inaul (also pronounced as inol) is the traditional woven cloth of the Maguindanaon. It is the Maguindanao word for “woven”.
Traditionally woven with geometric designs, the inaul is commonly used as a malong or wraparound skirt.
This has been considered a status symbol and is referred to as an object of "Barabangsa" (dignity). The inaul is commonly used in the malong, the multitasking tubular fabric.
Sometimes referred to as Abel Iloco or simply Abel, Inabel is the weaving tradition native to the Ilocos region of the Philippines. Inabel fabric is made of cotton and may be plain or patterned. The abel cloth is well known and much loved for its softness, beautiful designs, and strength.
Inabel literally translates to “woven” in the Ilocano dialect while abel means to weave.
Made through traditional wooden looms, Inabel is a weaving technique that's often described as a strong weave meticulously handmade from weaving practices passed down through many generations. It takes 2 weeks just to set up a pattern on a loom and a loom can produce only about 2 meters of fabric a day.
Weavers of Kalinga textile use raw materials from banana, cogon, abaca and maguey and braid them with polyester or cotton textile.
Kalinga hand woven fabrics are characterized by dominant red and black stripes and motifs of geometric patterns with nature symbols interlaced with white yellow and black fibers.
Considered as one of the finest textile products in the Philippines, the Kalinga weave have been continually developed with new designs and color arrangements.
Yakan hand loomed fabrics are known for their use of bold and often contrasting colours in big symmetrical patterns. As a result, their brightly-colored fabrics produce a myriad of textiles with distinct, strongly geometric, repetitive patterns, including the bunga sama (based on the diamond), the sinaluan (small bands of bisected and quartered lozenge shapes), the pussuk labbung (saw-tooth pattern) and the kabban budi (triangular-rectangular design).
Their inspiration for design comes from island living and Islamic sacred geometry.
Using herbal extracts from leaves, roots and barks, the Yakans dyed the fibers and produced colorful combinations and intricate designs.
PIS Syabit is a traditional cloth tapestry usually used as head covering. It is made from cotton or silk, square in shape and provided with geometric patterns.
The term “syabit” (which translates to “hook”) is a direct reference of the production process of inserting or hooking-in disconnected weft threads of various colors, across a generally dark yet finely striped body of warp threads.
Pis Syabit is usually seen being worn during weddings and other Tausug occasions as a symbol of colorful history and rank.
'Ga'dang', means 'higher ground', are one of the tribes with the most colorful weaving in the Cordillera region.
The weaving style uses four to five colors (white, yellow, indigo/black, and red) where red is the most dominant color of the four.
The materials are basically threads and beads aside from the ornaments being attached to the attires and accessories. These go through the process of warping, weaving, sewing, embroidery, beadwork, and attaching accessories and other ornaments.
Designs and patterns also vary. Marge explains, “The lallad, which consists of straight lines, is the simplest form of weaving. Then there’s the inammata, an eye-like pattern, the ilintuwan and the annalifambang which refer to butterflies, among others.”
Langkit is a traditional Maranao weave handwoven by backstrap loom typically utilized by the Maranao people in sewing the decorative strips of fabric onto malongs and ceremonial clothing.
'One of the many weaving styles of their community, Langkit is a Meranao word meaning a strip of multi-colored fabric.
The langkit design is particularly distinct and recognized for the intricate geometric patterns referred to locally as okir.
Ikat is a Cordilleran way of weaving that incorporates designs through dyeing threads in vibrant contemporary colors. The result of this process is a motif which is fuzzy in appearance. This blurry look comes from the slight bleeding of the dyes into the resist areas.
Ifugao Ikat is characterized by diamond stripes of white and red stripes. It is known for its colors and striking design patterns.
It's Halloween! It'll be interesting to see how this all works out with COVID-19. When I migrated, I saw Halloween as what seemed to be America's biggest costume party. Completely different vibe from the Philippines.
Image: Daily Malong Photoshoot 2017, Styled by Stephanie Gancayco (Janna San Felipe, Nathan Perucho, Kristian Ilustre, Lydia Querian, Jazlyn Pastor, Darren Garza)
Around this time, every year when I was growing up, it was a completely different mood. It wasn't too jolly. It was sentimental. It was reminiscent. I remember my family preparing for a big lunch at the cemetery where we can share a meal with the departed. At that time both my Grandmother and Grandfather on my Dad's side and my Lolo Badong from my Mom's side.
We'd get flowers, a dish per family, potluck style and We'd share it amongst ourselves. It was like Christmas where the family gathered, but a little more tame. A little more mindful that there are souls around watching us and connecting with us. We'd say a prayer (most of the time the rosary), then head back to our homes to rest and have a reflective restful weekend.
At first I thought it was such a boring time until I really understood why the mood changes around this time. It was honoring, remembering and a belief that once in a year, they are around to be here with us. The departed souls -- Our ancestors.
I wish my parents had explained better what this day was to me. But I also understand that the event is a little too washed out by different colonial belief and different perspectives of the Catholic church. However, what would've mattered is the context of it that I'm just now appreciating.
Fast forward to the recent years. I see people around me excited for it. Preparing to get dressed for what could be a massive party. I've dressed up at least twice in the last 10 years and I knew that those times were followed by a massive hangover and sleeping in the next day. Wondering how all of that halloween thing is going to play out around COVID-19.
I touched a little bit about dressing up because I know that our favorite supporters like to get dressed to represent themselves, their journey, their own story as Pilipinx in the diaspora. We are here to support you and be with you as you navigate through your stories. This support transcends through However!!! We are in the hopes that the beautiful pieces on Daily Malong are not used as "costume" for halloween.
INTENSION, RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY.
When you pick up that Daily Malong piece, think about the weavers, seamstresses and all other resources where it came from. Think about the people in the tribu whose resilience we intend to celebrate. Their attire are not of fictional characters meant to be worn around while getting turned up in the bar. We clearly don't have control over what you do with what you purchased, but we hope that this is something you think about.
Daily Malong works around respect to the best of our ability. It took many strides for us to build the relationships we have to bring you items that may support your journey. We trust in the gods that these pieces guide you to responsibility.
Wear them to tell your story. Wear them to speak about your narrative. Be the Daily Malong for your own journey. Beautiful, cozy and made with integrity.