Loren and Nedy bring native weavers to Rustan’sJune 27, 2016
Seated on a mat, Carina Amsiwen effortlessly maneuvers a shuttle on a small loom propped against her thigh, weaving a multicolored fabric characterized by stripes of intricate geometric pattern. A cultural master, she is not in Paracelis, Mt. Province where the ga’dang textile is the pride and unifying element of her village, but right at the heart of the financial district of Makati, on the well-lit, air-conditioned fifth floor of Rustan’s Makati.
Along with other weavers, embroiderers, and accessory-makers from the Bagobo tribe and Basey village in Samar, she is part of the grand exhibit organized by Rustan’s in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda. A weeks-long celebration that kicked off last June 21, “Dayaw: Culture and Art Exhibition” celebrates Filipino talent and creativity “with a showcase of handcrafted products and fabrics made by indigenous communities around the Philippines.”
“This passion for Filipino craftsmanship using indigenous materials has been an integral part of Rustan’s for its entire six decades that we have been in business,” said Zenaida “Nedy” Tantoco, chairman and CEO of Rustan’s. “With the opening of this exhibition, we are making a practical expression of our devotion and commitment to Philippine arts and culture.”
Given that some, if not, most of our indigenous communities are on the brink of dissolution as their members seek out more economically viable livelihoods and assimilate with the dominant cultures in towns and cities, Rustan’s commitment by offering precious retail space to their handcrafted creations is a step in the right direction to preserve what Sen. Legarda calls our “schools of living tradition” or SLTs.
“These are not organized schools as (that of) our Department of Education,” she said in keynote speech. “You would find them onsite, where beadwork, natural dye, textiles or any forms of arts and crafts (are being created). Soon, we will institutionalize the SLTs because we will create the Institute of Living Tradition so that all the SLTs, hundreds of them, will be preserved… so that the next generation will have these beads, these weaves, these arts and crafts.”
A long advocate of our indigenous heritage and responsible for creating the country’s first permanent textile gallery, the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino at the National Museum, Sen. Legarda acknowledged the concerted efforts from different sectors in extending support to our SLTs. “We thank Rustan’s for supporting this advocacy and giving us the venue, the full support for this. What better way to provide livelihood than giving support to the schools of living tradition of our indigenous peoples and at the same time making a viable economic enterprise. If we don’t take care of our nature and culture, who else will?”
Aside from showcasing indigenous products, “Dayaw” is also putting the spotlight on the recipients of Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA), or the National Living Treasures Award, which is conferred on Filipinos who are at the forefront of the practice, preservation and promotion of the nation’s traditional folk arts. Their portraits, as well as their contributions to the country, are organized in an exhibit on view until July 4, also at the fifth floor of Rustan’s Makati.
“As a group, these folk and traditional artists reflect diverse heritage and cultural traditions that transcend their beginnings to become part of our national character,” the NCCA states. “As Filipinos, they bring age-old customs, crafts and ways of living to the attention and appreciation of Filipino life.”
Together with the exhibit, Rustan’s also highlights proudly local designs from its Filipiniana line. Called Our Very Own (OVO), the collection is composed of home accents — from capiz accessories to polished wood accents — that give a unique touch to any Filipino home. In addition, the limited edition home merchandise “Rustan’s X BenCab Collection” will also be on display, such as porcelain plates, mugs, cushion covers, fans, trays, and utility boxes.
With other Rustan’s branches (Shangri-La, Alabang and Cebu) participating, “Dayaw” is a much-needed boost for people to encounter facets of our pre-Hispanic roots epitomized by the material and artistic culture of our indigenous communities, stirring Filipino pride and sparking, in the words of Mrs. Tantoco, “a deeper understanding and higher appreciation of the beauty of the Philippines.”
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The “Dayaw” exhibit is on view until June 26 at Rustan’s Makati, and until June 30 at Rustan’s Shangri-La. Live demonstrations will be held on June 25 and 26, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Rustan’s Makati, and until June 26, 1 to 5 p.m. at Rustan’s Shangri-La. Photos by WALTER BOLLOZOS