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Special Preview of the Textile Galleries for the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Philippines

October 6, 2012

Special Preview of the Textile Galleries for the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Philippines
Old Legislative Building, National Museum of the Philippines
October 06, 2012

It is my pleasure to be with you tonight here at the breathtaking and historic Old Senate Session Hall. A magnificent feat in Philippine art, this hall witnessed the struggle for Philippine independence. Restored to its grandeur, this hall serves as the perfect venue as we renew our pride in our cultural rootedness.

Our heritage is a fundamental source of socio-economic empowerment, especially for cultural communities that have been struggling to relive traditions in this modern day and age.

But how do we preserve and sustain traditional arts, crafts and local industries deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture? How do we support our culture bearers so they do not give up their crafts and instead encourage them to pass on their skills to the next generation? How do we create harmonious connections between tradition and modernity?
Let me cite some of the ways by which we have been striving to do this.

To date, we have at least over a hundred weaving centers and communities still in existence, keeping weaving traditions alive. Beyond the intricate weaving technique and fine embellishments we find in our traditional textiles, we discover cultural expressions and visions of our history that have endured the test of time and we begin to recognize the traditional skills that gave fruit to such artistic creations.

In setting up the textile galleries, we endeavor to promote, preserve, and sustain the many weaving methods deeply rooted in the Filipino culture. Through greater appreciation of their craftsmanship, we hope that we are able to empower our talented weavers.

Apart from this exhibition, we also helped the National Museum organize the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge, which aims to enrich the citizens’ knowledge on tropical fabrics and the culture of weaving, and explore the local technology, adaptation and innovations to perform and renew weaving customs. These lectures have brought together indigenous peoples, professionals, educators, students and decision-makers who can contribute to the enrichment of the weaving tradition.

In 2004, we worked for the passage of the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law, which mandated the use of indigenous fibers for the official uniforms of government officials and employees, with the end in view of strengthening the local fiber industry. I hope that your respective organizations will also patronize indigenous fibers.

In a few months, we will launch the Baybayin Gallery, which will showcase the ancient and traditional scripts of the Philippines. Through the exhibit, we intend to feature and promote awareness of the writing systems used by ancient Filipinos, as manifested in archaeological artifacts, and we also aim to highlight the continuing tradition of script writing among a few remaining indigenous communities in Mindoro and Palawan, particularly among the Hanunoo, Buhid and Tagbanua peoples.

We have long taken our advocacy beyond the halls of the Senate and the National Museum. In Davao del Sur, we supported the development of cultural villages of the Ata-Talaingod, the Mandayas, the B’laan, and the Bagobo Tagabawas in various activities of their Schools of Living Traditions, which teach the young generation the traditional arts, crafts, music and practices of the village.

We have collaborated with state universities in the Cordilleras to document indigenous knowledge and practices, particularly in the area of agriculture and environment protection. Our indigenous peoples are the epitome of the tradition, the skill and the creativity of the great Filipino mind, and recording this ingenuity will allow traditions to stay alive and flourish.

In October 17, we will launch the HIBLA Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines at the Manila Fame Design and Lifestyle Event in SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. The HIBLA Pavilion, an initiative to make the indigenous artistry of Filipinos known to the world and valued by consumer markets, will showcase the best textiles of the Ivatan of Batanes, Gaddang of Mountain Province, Mangyan of Oriental Mindoro, Panay Bukidnon of Iloilo, Subanen of Zamboanga del Sur, Ata Talaingod of Davao del Norte, T’boli of South Cotabato, B’laan of Saranggani, among other cultural communities. Exceptional textiles and crafts from weaving and handicraft centers in Ilocos Sur, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Samar, Aklan, Iloilo, Antique, Zamboanga del Sur, and Bukidnon will also be featured in the four-day exhibition.

Through this effort, we hope to open doors of opportunities for weaving communities and Schools of Living Traditions and generate greater patronage for the creative industries of our indigenous peoples.

As the country’s business leaders, you can be the most effective and passionate champions of our culture and heritage. It is time for us to further take pride in and support our own, and to take what is uniquely Filipino to the international stage.
The rich heritage passed on to us by our ancestors should never be buried in oblivion. There is no other way for us but to preserve these treasures as they reveal the meaning of who we really are and help us move forward as one people. Together, we can usher a cultural renaissance for the country.

Thank you very much. Mabuhay ang kalinangang Filipino!