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Vitality!Weavers, culture and forests

Image credit: British Council, Woven Networks Project

Uwes-Pinutuan Isanay Ikat Blanket

The Woven Networks project tells the story of interconnecting handwoven communities across the country with the lands and forests on which they depend for their livelihoods. This includes the weaving communities of Sierra Madre, Nueva Vizcaya, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Samar, Leyte and Cebu. It aims to “strengthen the voice of local communities by highlighting sustainable practices and their important role as artisans.” Indigenous weavers also shared their stories and what weaving meant to them as part of their cultural heritage.

The Woven Networks project, supported through the Philippine Forest Foundation and the British Council’s Crafting Futures Global Program, showcased nine research grant highlights and investigative work with the craft community.

See also From the land to the loom, from the fiber to the shape, A virtual exhibition about the weaving community based on the Woven Networks project, curated by Tessa Maria Guazon. It will run until December 2nd, 2022.


Jama Mapun mat weaver

our weavers and artisans

Who are our weavers and artisans today? Weavers found in nearly every region of the Philippines are part of an estimated 450 handweaving groups, or 5,000 individuals in total. Most are women and many are members of indigenous communities. Craftsmen in their 60s and 70s are now trying to pass on their knowledge to younger families, but many find the financial rewards of such monotonous, labor-intensive work too low to continue. Not interested or reluctant to do so.

Most of the weavers work part-time and continue weaving as a source of income, albeit insignificant. Weaving as an economic activity remains far from self-sufficient. While they do the actual work, weavers are the lowest paid at the bottom of the market chain.

Hinabol and its Weaver

Dependence on forests

The natural materials collected and processed by weavers can be found in forests, nearby lands and backyards, or purchased. Tikog, yantok (rattan), bamboo, pandan, nito, yellowtail, abaca, nipa, coconut husks and fibers, annahoe leaves, bark, and morave wood.

The final products are banigs or mats (made of yellowtail, pandan), baskets, tinkop baskets, bayon, bags, furniture (bamboo), home decorations, fish traps, hats (salakot), fans, blinds, and billao or sieving baskets. .


According to United Nations statistics, 25% of the world’s population depends on forests for their livelihoods, of which 60 million are indigenous. About 85% of the Philippines’ significant biodiversity areas lie within the ancestral territories of indigenous communities.

If you look closely

Rurungan sa Tubod Foundation surveyed craft communities in Palawan, including Jama Mapun weavers in Bgy. Sofronio Espanola Isumbo makes pandan mats with intricate woven designs. At Bgy Oring-Oring, Brooke’s Point and Takin Bawat Tipo there is also a Jama Mapun weaver who manufactures pandan mats consisting of his two parts, the top and the back.prickly varieties and pandan banya It is used for the top surface because it is thinner and easier to make small strips for staining or design. The second type is pandan bakung, which is used for the back area as it is thicker and tougher.

at Bgy. Samarinya, Brooks Point, and Sabrito Cibrak create smaller versions of Tinkop baskets. No dyes are used, and patterns that make use of the original colors of the materials are expressed on the products. He gets them from plants such as Gaheed (nit), Uvaran (nit), Burdung (a type of rattan) and Busnig found on Mount Mantaringajan, the highest mountain in Palawan.

Isinay Ikat Revival

Isinay was known for producing the finest indigo-dyed kasuri weaves. However, the tradition disappeared with the conversion of the Isine to Christianity. The last known Isine-dyed Ikat blanket (Wes Pinutuandeath or travel blanket), kept by the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Dupax del Sur and created by Felipa Mayangat Castillo in the 1980s.

Ikat weaving is a tradition shared among some communities of Benguet and mountain states who speak Isinai, Ifugao, Ibaloi and Kankanai.

Proponent of the project, Patricia M. Araneta, aims to revive the Ishinai Ikat tradition at Dupax del Sur in Nueva Vizcaya. As a prerequisite for the revival of Kasuri weaving, it is necessary that the main materials, cotton and indigo, be cultivated locally. The Isinay and Ifugao communities are interested in growing organic cotton for yarn and indigo for natural dyes.

Tinkop basket at the exhibition

hinabon weaving

Hinabol, traditionally designed abaca-based textiles with colorful stripes, is part of the Higaonong lifestyle and is made by the Karandan Weavers Group within the Ancestral Domain in Mintapod, Bukidnon It is an important part of their ceremonies and gifts (weddings, tribal gatherings, community peace talks) and is also the source of their livelihood. The Higaonon practice of giving gifts (sgot) maintains and strengthens the social cohesion of the community.

With the demand for sustainable fabrics, Hinabol weaving needs to be revived to enhance its value and product range. Widespread use of natural dyes in hinaballs is encouraged. About 18 different natural dyes have been identified in this region.

Abaca does not require deforestation and provides a sustainable source of livelihood.