When we parted ways from our getaway in Camiguin in 2011, Lorie and I felt sure we will see each other again in the future. If it won’t be in the succeeding Talaandig Festival celebration, we knew we will catch up on each other’s lives in Manila.
When she arrived in Quezon City in November last year, I was delighted to know that I was just a few blocks away from her brother’s home. This calls for a meet-up! Through her posts on Facebook, I learned about her new advocacy: helping women weavers of Tagulwanen Tribe in the trade. I was greatly impressed with their apparently tedious handiwork in each photo she uploaded. And I expected to be more love-struck the moment I see the precious mats in person.
Lorie narrated how she got involved in this project. How her eyes sparkled with pride when she recounted finding her purchased mat after typhoon Sendong! Sure, it had faded a little, but it was strong enough to survive such a disaster. That was all it took for her to decide to be the coordinator of the mat weavers and provide linkages to other municipalities and, now, other countries.
According to Lorie, the materials used in these mats are called sodsod which are endemic in Bukidnon. Manglala, as women weavers are called, only create or weave whenever it is cool (night time and rainy season) to prevent the materials from breaking. For a moment, I got interested how they determine warm weather as I recall shaking the entire time in Bukidnon. It’s probably your idea of “bed” weather.
Aside from being a profit-generating activity, mat-making is their prized way of keeping their tradition alive. The intricate designs in the mat (Magbabaya) mirrors their tribal beliefs. Unfortunately, not everyone in the family can be weavers as this practice requires persistence, focus and mental stability. What great pressure for this art form to get passed on to the next generation!
How much, you ask? Rectangular mats range from P600 (single), P800 (double) and P900 (family). Center piece amounts to P1,000. You can also have yours customized. In fact, there’s this one yogini who requested for mat as huge as her yoga studio. And I thought I was the first one to imagine a handwoven yoga mat!
Sadly, I can’t afford my own at the time. But I’m sure I’ll have my own center piece and yoga mat in the near future.
Then, Lorie showed me some kayumpidi (more like phone sleeves) that teenagers had handwoven in their spare time. While teens in the metro spend most of their time toying with their gadgets anywhere, the Tagulwanen teens create gadget-related artwork at home! Impressive!
To my surprise, Lorie asked me to choose a design. I initially can’t make up my mind since I adore the neon green and blue-and-orange designs. Thankfully, Lorie was being generous that day and gave both away! I was quick to realize I only have one phone at the moment so I might as well share the other one. I gave the other one to Waldo as our first anniversary was fast approaching. Pang-birthday na, pang-anniversary pa! Thanks, Lorie!
Photos by Gerald Rago
Kayumpidi photo by Elaine Elquiero