Robredo boosts sales of handwoven pink poncho from Kalinga

Published December 11, 2021, 3:49 PM

by Raymund Antonio

After presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo was seen wearing a pink poncho with traditional Kalinga tapestry designs during her last week’s visit to Baguio City, a deluge of orders came the way of the traditional dressmaker who has been using Kalinga backstrap loom weaving to create the poncho.

Vice President Leni Robredo wears a pink poncho with traditional Kalinga tapestry designs during her visit to Baguio City on Dec. 6, 2021. (Lakbay Kalinga/Facebook)

Lakbay Kalinga, a Facebook page for the Kalinga province community, said the poncho was made by Lubuagan local weavers of Taitana’s Dress Shop in Tabuk City, Kalinga.

Owner Jennifer Pinated started calling the poncho Leni Poncho after orders came in droves from the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and France when they saw the garment on Robredo.

“She said that she is overwhelmed and proud that the Vice President of the Philippines is wearing her product and she’s willing to recommend and supply similarly-themed apparel if given the chance,” Lakbay Kalinga reported, referring to Pinated.

However, it is not easy to source the pink material used to make Robredo’s poncho, so the fastest they can complete a poncho like the one the Vice President wore would be a week.

Robredo herself commented to a Facebook post about the shop receiving orders from Filipinos abroad.

“So, so beautiful that poncho (pink heart emoji). So glad that my wearing it translated to many orders. We will get in touch with them as we have been helping many weaving communities all over the country,” she said in reply to one of the sharers of the post.

Lakbay Kalinga posted a screenshot of Robredo’s reply.

The aspiring president received the poncho, which has been hand-embroidered with Kalinga tapestry designs, when she was in Baguio City last Dec. 6 from a group of youth from Kalinga who traveled for 10 hours to get to Baguio.

“It took two months for the poncho to be completed. Along with it is a blouse with the same set of designs. She wore the pink poncho until her next activity that day,” Lakbay Kalinga said.

With 23 Kalinga tapestry designs, the weavers chose two designs for the poncho—the pink part is the “lilagtob” while the triangle blue edges are the “gilamat.”

“Lilagtob,” from its root “lagtob,” means “one after the other.”

Inspired by the honeycomb found along the riversides of Kalinga, it is also known as the “eye” design or “inammata” (eye-like).

“Gilamat,” from the word “gamat,” means “to embroider.”

Lakbay Kalinga said the “gilamat” “stands out for its initial triangle formations, diamond shapes, and zigzag patterns with the colors of black, red, yellow, white, and green implicating the Chico river, the mountain ranges, the plants, the rice terraces, and the farming culture of the Kalinga people.”

“The beads are a symbol of remembrance of the seas of the lowlands,” the post said.

The use of pink color for the traditional Kalinga tapestry is a new and modern take that “bridged the additional creativity for the textiles into the modern world.”

Traditionally, Kalinga weavers used red and black to symbolize the boldness and strength of the family as a tribe while yellow, green, and white were used to depict the cheerfulness of the Kalinga people, as well as their love for nature and faith.

Backstrap loom weaving is a source of livelihood for both men and women in Kalinga communities.