The British Council and the Prince’s Foundation to map PH's 'weaving futures'

Published June 15, 2021, 10:50 AM

by John Legaspi

Ensuring the future of the country’s weaving heritage

Photo by Reginald Sarmenta/British Council

Weaving is an age-old tradition in the Philippines that was once nearly forgotten but is now gaining international fame. This textile heritage is among the beacons that shine on the country’s identity, making it a standout tradition around the globe, as well as promoting sustainable practices.

While the practice has been beneficial to the country, especially for its indigenous women, more studies are needed to be done in order to fully take it out of its “sunset industry” status. To help make that happen, the British Council is launching the “Weaving Futures—Cultural exchanges and design collaboration,” an action research project led by the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, presided by HRH The Prince of Wales, in partnership with the Enrique Zobel Foundation and Philippine Women’s University.

Echoing the reports from the 2020 study “Crafting futures—sustaining handloom weaving in the Philippines,” the latest project aims to map the communities’ distinct cultural heritage, relationship with nature, indigenous knowledge, and vision for the future.

“At The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, we offer a wide range of education programmes which help ensure that traditional arts and skills are preserved and are able to continue to enrich our changing world,” says Dr Khaled Azzam, director of The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts. “We are delighted to partner with The British Council, the Enrique Zobel Foundation, and Philippine Women’s University on this new cultural exchange and collaborative design project to support historic weaving communities in the Philippines.”

At the center of the research are weaving communities in the Philippines: the Kiyyangan Weavers Association in Kiyangan, Ifugao; the Kulibanbang Weavers Association of Bontoc women now residing in La Trinidad, Benguet; the Serukadang Menuvu Tribal Organization of Bukidnon; and the Sunrise Weaving Association of Ibaan, Batangas. Creating a new design process, the study is expected to widen people’s knowledge on the craft, and to renew and refresh weaving practices. The initiative will also bridge collaborative works across communities with designers, artisans, and makers in the UK and the Philippines.

“The industry’s potential may still be unlocked, and for that we need to develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by artisans, mostly women and mothers, and how they are impacted by global crises like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Pilar Aramayo-Prudencio, country director of the British Council in the Philippines. “I am delighted that, through this project, we are able to support meaningful collaborations that celebrate culture and innovation. This is the essence of our mission as a cultural relations organization.”

“Weaving Futures” is set to be launched digitally on June 16, 2021. For inquiries, please contact [email protected]