Weaving house helps preserve Yakan culture
For indigenous Yakan weavers in Lamitan, Basilan, nature has become an unwitting, often uncooperative, trade partner.
Working outside their homes or under trees, the weavers are at the mercy of the elements. When the rains come or when the sun gets too hot, they have no choice but to seek shelter and set aside their looms. Their livelihood is thus heavily affected; production drops, and so does their income.
All that is bound to be in the past. A weaving house is set to rise in Lamitan, providing the weavers a place where they can work in an environment that enhances their creativity, undisturbed by the weather.
On Dec. 11, Vice President Leni Robredo led the groundbreaking rites for the construction of the P2-million weaving house that would be fully operational by June 2020.
The project is part of the Vice President’s Angat Buhay initiatives which support livelihood ventures in economically depressed communities.
Robredo recalled that during a dialogue in 2017 in Lamitan, the community-based weavers expressed their need for capital and a place where they can work year-round, without being sidelined by the elements.
With their trade heavily dependent on the weather, a number of weavers have quit their looms and migrated to this city to work as hired labor in business establishments.
The vanishing number of indigenous weavers also threatens an important aspect of Yakan culture: the skill in producing intricate Yakan weaves which is passed on through generations.
A weaving house will preserve Yakan culture and maximize the market potential of local fabrics, Robredo said. While the weaving house is being built, weavers will be provided assistance in product enhancement and development as well as market access, the Vice President said, adding that weavers will be linked directly to social enterprises, such as Woven PH, Akaba, Anthill and Zarah Juan.
Robredo also underscored the need for the weavers to graduate from simple artisans into entrepreneurs so that by saving their livelihood, Lamitan’s weavers would be able to preserve a Yakan cultural legacy.
In 2018, the Office of the Vice President’s community-based procurement partnered with the Yakan weavers in Lamitan for its office holiday giveaways and the sablay (native sash) for the graduates of its program, Angat Buhay Youth Leaders in Government.
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