Special article by Myda Prieto
A growing market of the country’s weaving tradition was seen at the recently held Likhang HABI Market Fair at Glorietta. Beautiful and labor-intensive products mostly by various indigenous tribes using locally sourced natural materials like cotton, piña and abaca were on display for clients to support their craft. A pioneer in market fair and advocacy for communities in the Filipino Artisan trade, the specialized fair highlighted some of the unsung heroes of the indigenous Filipino textile industry.
Likhang HABI Market Fair 2017 also conducted a series of lectures that helped local and global consumers understand the importance of supporting the revival of the local weaving industry. The fair also featured a talk on cultural appropriation by Marlon Martin of Save The Ifugao Rice Terraces Movement.
“More than presenting our unique and varied indigenous fabrics, we also aim to educate the public on the importance of supporting our traditional textile industry,” said HABI President Adelaida Lim. “We hope to prove to our fellow Filipinos and the global community that indigenous textiles fit very well with the modern lifestyle,” Lim added.
Launched in 2009, the three-day annual textile fair provided a venue for traditional weavers and embroiderers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to showcase their products, touch base with old customers and develop new clientele. Filipinos and foreigners as well sourced hand-woven and hand-embroidered clothes and textiles for home furnishings as well.
Habi Market featured, among others, hand-embroidered dresses and blouses from the T’bolis of South Cotabato, piña-silk caftans and cover-ups from Puerto Princesa, inabel blankets, throws, table runners and stuffed toys from the Ilocos region, and embroidered piña barongs from Kalibo. Descendants of the late Lang Dulay, a famed T’boli weaver of T’nalak fabrics from South Cotabato’s Lake Sebu area, also joined the event.
Maribel Ongpin, chair of Habi, the Philippine Textile Council said that this year they spent a lot of time traveling all over the country telling weavers to use cotton instead of synthetic materials as people are looking for and willing to pay a higher price for hand-woven products using natural materials.
Ongpin, a member of Friends of the National Museum, answered the call to organize the country’s first-ever traditional textile body during a regional symposium in Manila in 2009.
Months before the symposium, members of the Indonesian textile society came to Manila looking for their Filipino counterparts. Since there was none, they ended up contacting Friends of the National Museum, which ended up hosting the symposium.
Ongpin said that they have a traditional textile heritage and thriving industry like them, but didn’t have a textile society or group to represent their indigenous weavers.
After the symposium, Ongpin also learned that even smaller countries like Laos and Cambodia and even larger but relatively poorer ones like Myanmar and Vietnam had their respective textile societies. Right there and then, she and her friends decided that it was high time for the Philippines to have one.
To keep the textile-weaving tradition alive, they have taken it upon themselves to organize these annual fairs for which they lease the entire space and then sublease it to weavers with no profit from it.
Apart from giving them a venue to sell their products, the annual fair has given weavers a place to network. It has taught them to price, market and even display their products and to compete. Some Christmas décor using traditional fabrics were on sale at the fair as well.
Driven by its genuine desire to promote the preservation and creative enhancement of the indigenous textile industry through entrepreneurship and synergy, HABI: The Philippine Textile Council celebrates the traditional Filipino who sustain the industry with the 7th Likhang HABI Market Fair.
Furthermore, in keeping with HABI’s long-term commitment and advocacy of reviving the use of pure cotton, there will also be a lecture on cultivating and growing cotton, a fiber that is endemic in the Philippines and is very much part of the native Filipino rituals and lore, and indigenous culture.
For more details, check out website: www.habitextilecouncil.ph