The stunning craftsmanship of Filipino weavers

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COLLECTIBLE Hand-woven Philippine Cotton by Charisse Tugade.

Habi advocates the uplifting of the country’s indigenous weavers from places as diverse as Kalinga, Ifugao, Mindoro, and Basilan. It has done so by convincing them to use natural fabrics

The Christmas shopping spree kicks off this October as the finest in Philippine-made textile products take center stage at this year’s Habi trade fair, Woven Voyages 8: Likhang Habi Textile Fair 2018.

The three-day trade event pays tribute to the country’s traditional weavers who hail from communities supported by Habi. Their unique skills in weaving fabrics were given exposure during the previous fairs and this expertise has since become a viable source of income for them.

“Woven Voyages: 8th Likhang Habi Textile Fair 2018” will take place at the Activity Area of the Glorietta Mall in Ayala Center, Makati City on from 12 to 14 October. It’s open to the public.

Organized by Habi The Philippine Textile Council, a nonprofit organization, the fair is designed to showcase the artistry of the country’s weavers. Habi co-founder Maribel Ongpin revealed that more than 80 exhibitors will take part in the event, making it Habi’s biggest trade fair to date. And for the first time, the show will include textile exhibitors from the Southeast Asian region, namely, the weaving communities of Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

HAND-WOVEN Filipiniana.

Habi is placing special emphasis on products made of natural fabrics and will include the colorful merchandise of established brands that use the fabrics made by the weavers. To entice shoppers are the fashionable bags adorned with the resplendent cloth made by the Yakan of Basilan. Not to be outdone are the hand-woven blankets, covers, and napkins from the Ilocos region. Toys and novelty items made by local craftsmen should also be popular for early Christmas shoppers.

Among the exhibitors are established brands and manufacturers such as Rurungan sa Tukod Foundation, Interweave, Yakang Yaka, Manila Collectible, Casa Mercedes, Filip+Inna, Gifts & Graces Foundation, Good Luck, Humans, La Herminia Piña, Liwayway Handicraft, Creative Definitions, Kalinga Weaving, Ayala Foundation, Inc., and items by noted Filipina artist and designer Ditta Sandico.

BLANKETS and covers made from natural fabrics.
INTERVWEAVE Philippine cotton scarves.

Habi advocates the uplifting of the country’s indigenous weavers from places as diverse as Kalinga, Ifugao, Mindoro, and Basilan. It has done so by convincing them to use natural fabrics. It was explained to them how using natural fabrics in lieu of synthetic ones, will improve quality, increase the value of their works, lower their carbon footprint, and enhance the sustainability of their livelihood.

Habi is also capturing a market composed of fashion-conscious female shoppers, especially the younger women.

The fair is held each year to provide a major venue for the local weavers to present their wares. It offers them the opportunity to tap Metro Manila’s consumer market by giving them free space in the show. It also allows them to deal directly with wholesale buyers, foreign buyers, and stores.

“This way, the middlemen, who had been buying the products from them at lower rates and selling them at much higher prices, are eliminated,” said Ongpin.

The trade show also opens other lucrative opportunities for the weavers, some of whom have been contracted to supply materials to prominent fashion designers, bag manufacturers, and gift and novelty shops. As a result, more indigenous people are given livelihoods. Many members of the younger generation, often eager to seek employment in the big cities, are thus enticed to stay and engage in the old tradition of weaving. Ultimately, a cultural heritage is saved from extinction and the economies of these communities are given a tremendous boost.

With the fair, Habi is also capturing a market composed of fashion-conscious female shoppers, especially the younger women.

“We also want to attract more fashion designers,” says Adelaida Lim, the Baguio-based businesswoman and an active member of Habi. “We want them to discover how these fabrics can be used for contemporary fashion, and not just for traditional costumes.”

The participation of the weavers from the Southeast Asian communities may also open new doors for their local counterparts, said Ongpin. “The weavers from each country can learn from each other and they may have the opportunity to tap each other’s markets.”

On the other hand, the fair isn’t just about selling a product, it’s also about educating the public on the use of earth-friendly raw materials, sustainability, and preserving old traditions.

During the three-day event, Habi is presenting various programs that will impart the organization’s advocacies in an entertaining way. A fashion show highlighting the woven fabrics promise to impress shoppers and mall goers. There will also be an exhibit featuring the textile art of the Filipina-French artist Olivia d’Aboville, and the works of the winners of the Lourdes Montinola Weaving Competition. Other highlights are workshops and lectures on sustainability, and a traditional food lounge.

For more information, call the Habi Philippine Textile Council at +63 927-8526955 or e-mail likhanghabi@gmail.com. Visit their website: habitextilecouncil.ph.

DITTA Sandico for Likhang Habi.

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